(Missouri conference) What Is The Role Of Public Schools

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download-23-540x297After sev­er­al years look­ing at Com­mon Core; where it came from, who sup­ports it, how it is being imple­ment­ed, its impact on teachers/students/parents, and lis­ten­ing to the com­plaints of parents/the gen­er­al pub­lic about it, I view Com­mon Core as a symp­tom, not the cause of the pub­lic out­cry over edu­ca­tion. I believe the rea­son most par­ents are becom­ing more and more unhap­py with Com­mon Core is not sim­ply because the stan­dards are bad or the les­son plans are bad. Both those state­ments are true, but again they are symp­toms, not cause. When both sides of the com­mon core issue come togeth­er to dis­cuss it, it is almost as if they are speak­ing two dif­fer­ent lan­guages and nei­ther side of the table has a trans­la­tor. The result is that both sides label what the oth­er side says as “talk­ing points” because they make no sense and appear to have lit­tle empir­i­cal sup­port. Par­ents are labeled as emo­tion­al if not irra­tional, and edu­ca­tors are labeled as push­ing the cor­po­rate agen­da. What I real­ly think is hap­pen­ing is that both sides are argu­ing for dif­fer­ent visions of pub­lic edu­ca­tion. If every­one has a dif­fer­ent goal, time spent argu­ing on how to go about achiev­ing that goal is wast­ed. The debate that needs to hap­pen now is, “What is the pur­pose of pub­lic edu­ca­tion.” Until there is a com­mon under­stand­ing of that pur­pose, there will con­tin­ue to be argu­ments about what is being done to deliv­er pub­lic education.

We have stopped deliv­er­ing edu­ca­tion as the founders of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca and even the founders of  Mis­souri envi­sioned it. Our state con­sti­tu­tion says right at the begin­ning of Arti­cle IX on education,

A gen­er­al dif­fu­sion of knowl­edge and intel­li­gence being essen­tial tothe preser­va­tion of the rights and lib­er­ties of the peo­ple, the gen­er­al assem­bly shall estab­lish and main­tain free pub­lic schools for the gra­tu­itous instruc­tion of all per­son in this state.

The goal of pub­lic edu­ca­tion was to teach peo­ple not only how to read, write and do math so they could enter freely and knowl­edge­ably into con­tracts, both finan­cial and social, but also to teach them about their rights and lib­er­ties so they would know the impor­tance of pre­serv­ing them.

We now have a pub­lic edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy that says its goal is to pre­pare work­ers for the glob­al econ­o­my. What a slap in the face to the founders who estab­lished a gov­er­nance sys­tem unlike any oth­er in the world and who knew that it was impor­tant to teach peo­ple about their gov­ern­ment if they were to be entrust­ed with it, to have the schools now focus on teach­ing stu­dents they are “glob­al cit­i­zens” and the high­est aspi­ra­tion soci­ety has for them is to get a job.

We lost this focus decades ago, thanks to the pro­gres­sives. The aver­age per­son is now woe­ful­ly igno­rant of how their gov­ern­ment is sup­posed to work, let alone how it actu­al­ly works. This has led to a “farm sys­tem” for rep­re­sen­ta­tion where peo­ple lit­er­al­ly need to be trained and sea­soned for many years in low­er lev­els of gov­ern­ment (school board, city coun­cil, etc.) in order to be pre­pared to serve at the state or nation­al lev­el. And they need sev­er­al years at the nation­al lev­el to learn how that sys­tem oper­ates, offi­cial­ly and unof­fi­cial­ly, in order to be an effec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tive either of the peo­ple in the house, or their state in the senate.

All of this has led to a gov­ern­ment that con­trols more and more of our lives, because we haven’t been teach­ing how impor­tant it is to con­tin­u­al­ly reign in the nat­ur­al ten­den­cy for gov­ern­ment to devolve into a total­i­tar­i­an state. When gov­ern­ment takes over more and more of our lives, the qual­i­ties we look for in the peo­ple who rep­re­sent change. We want them to have knowl­edge or exper­tise in the areas they are try­ing to con­trol. The more they try to con­trol, the less like­ly it is that any sin­gle per­son pos­sess­es a broad enough knowl­edge base to have this exper­tise. This in turn leads rep­re­sen­ta­tives to trans­fer the pol­i­cy mak­ing author­i­ty to those who claim to have such exper­tise, the bureau­crats, which puts us all in the posi­tion of being ruled by peo­ple who are not account­able to the people.

If you believe in the lan­guage of the Mis­souri Con­sti­tu­tion, that the role of schools is to pre­pare peo­ple for lead­ing a life of lib­er­ty, then you should con­sid­er attend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Coalition’s Edu­ca­tion Pol­i­cy Con­fer­ence, tak­ing place next week in St. Louis at the Fron­tenac Hilton (Jan­u­ary 29–31st).  The con­fer­ence theme this year is

Rule of Law vs. Chaos and Anarchy: The Role of Schools and the Community

This year will be the 26th year of this high­ly enrich­ing con­fer­ence that give you insights on a broad range of top­ics relat­ed to edu­ca­tion from fab­u­lous speak­ers around the coun­try and even the globe.


Spe­cial Din­ner with Keynote Speak­er Judge Jea­nine Pir­ro – Under­stand­ing The Faces Of Chaos And Anar­chy, Thurs­day, Jan­u­ary 29, 7:00 p.m.

Din­ner with Keynote Speak­er MEP Daniel Han­nan – How and Why Words make Free­dom Pos­si­ble, South East Eng­land Mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Fri­day 7:00 p.m.

Ses­sions Fri­day, Jan­u­ary 30, 2015 at 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Ses­sions Sat­ur­day, Jan­u­ary 31, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

Ses­sion Top­ics Include:


There will be many oppor­tu­ni­ties to meet and net­work with speak­ers and atten­dees from around the coun­try. We must have the nation­al dis­cus­sion about the pur­pose of pub­lic edu­ca­tion and come to some mutu­al under­stand­ing before we can reach any con­clu­sion on things like Com­mon Core, School Choice, Parental Rights, Cur­ricu­lum, Test­ing and Gov­ern­ment Data Gath­er­ing. I encour­age you to join that dis­cus­sion at EPC.

To reg­is­ter go EPC