CEE's Education Newsline
Taken from the Spring 1998 issue of Education Newsline.
What to Watch on the Education Scene
This year of 1998 should provide plenty of battles to keep you on the edge of your seat. Are the President's budget promises just a bunch of empty words? He aims at classroom reductions, a 25% funding increase for Charter Schools, a huge increase in after-school community "learning" centers, recruitment and training of 100,000 new teachers over the next 7 years, a $30 million increase (to $175 million) for "innovative" new school reform programs, and more. But this budget with the greatest funding increase in 30 years looks to anticipated federal shares of tobacco industry litigation settlements--a tentative source.
And what of Clinton's national testing program? It's not quite the "done deal" he touted in his State of the Union Address. In fact, Republicans are hard at work trying to prevent it from ever being completed--and they may succeed. In February, the House passed a bill banning any further test development (past the end of this fiscal year Sept. 30) which is not explicitly authorized by Congress. And the National Assessment Governing Board, which now has control over the test, signed a test development contract that pushes back the starting date of the test until at least 2001 (not 1999 or earlier, as hoped). In fact, Acting Deputy Secretary of Education Marshall Smith said, "I don't think [the national tests] will ever come about." Though he quickly tried to backtrack on his indiscreet remark, many share his opinion.
Achieve, a group formed to help national business leaders and governors see comparable national assessments, has put forth the idea of "imbedding" a core set of questions into existing off-the-shelf and state assessments--that's one option, and many others are already being suggested.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are busily putting forth a slate of their own education budget favorites, including charter schools, block grants and A+ Education Savings Accounts which would allow parents to invest post-tax moneys into interest-free accounts for private, religious, public or home schooling expenses. This bill should come up for a vote on the Senate floor any day, as we go to press.
Expect Goals 2000 to figure into national debates again as its federal funding authorization expires September. 30. Although extensions are usually routine, we may have a chance of stopping this one--few programs have garnered so much opposition!
The players in these political battles may be changing slightly as the nation's two largest teachers' unions--the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers--have tentative plans to merge by 2002. Their combined membership of 3.2 million and their $1.3 billion war chest would come under the influence of the AFL-CIO (something new for the NEA). And with no need to spend money battling each other for members, all resources can be channeled into an even more powerful political presence nationally and in all 50 states.
Check our web site www.nace-cee.org for updates on legislation and news. We'll keep you posted!
An Open Letter to the Public Schools
(This letter is a condensed version of a longer message sent to national public school leaders with whom Dr. Bob Simonds, president of NACE/CEE, has been working on conciliation efforts for the past several years.)
Dear Public School Colleagues,
Loving and sincere greetings. Perhaps you are already aware that I am now urging Christian parents to leave the public schools. We have always told Christians to work sincerely with our public schools to have their concerns and deep fears for their children's souls and their safety dealt with through proper channels in our schools. We have always said that if there is no other response, then put them in private or home schools. This has helped for a little over 1,000,000 Christian children. Twenty-three million Christian children are still unprotected.
In view of your publicly-declared interest in finding COMMON GROUND between parents and our public schools, it appears desirable to apprise you of the reasons for CEE's rather dramatic departure from our long-standing (15-year) policy of attempting to work within the system. Let it be very clear--we are NOT out to destroy the public schools; we are out to PROTECT our children.
CEE has responded to every invitation to represent the concerns of traditionalist Christian parents in leading journals, at national, regional and local professional conferences, and in various consensus-building forums.
In each venue we have repeatedly asserted what we perceive to be exceedingly modest and reasonable requests such as follows:
We believe we have been clear in expressing our needs. We believe we have been forthright in responding to the concerns of our public school colleagues. We also believe we have been open and above board, and very explicit in stating our positions in the various arenas of discourse. It is our assessment that, in response to our efforts, we have received nothing but lip service in return:
No organization has endorsed our efforts--or even suggested that our concerns be seriously considered.
No officers of any organization have offered to assist us in presenting our concerns to decision-makers at the local level, while CEE parents and many Christian organizations responded to our desire for conciliation and common ground, by not opposing local school people--for almost four years now. (I must now take the heat for my misplaced confidence.)
Very few officers (exceptions noted) of any government organization have encouraged their members to consider our needs and perspectives, which could have encouraged our constituents to stay in public schools.
To the contrary, in response to our concerns, we have been consistently rebuffed with non-substantive arguments based on pragmatic concerns: that is, that what we are proposing would be very "inconvenient" or "more work." The merits of our proposals have never been debated on ideological grounds. We have been listened to, but not heard; patronized, but not respected. We have given the "Common Ground" thesis our best effort. Prudence dictates that we direct our energies to other fronts that would better achieve our goal, which is to protect our children from any and all ideologies that would weaken or destroy their faith in God and His Word which teaches right and wrong.
Let me be clear in where we are going and where we are staying. We are staying in the public schools in that we will urge all Christians left in public schools to step up their effort to stop the psychological abuse and oppose atheistic doctrines in the schools; and we will apply political pressure at all levels to assure all children receive SAFE PASSAGE. We are urging all religious and moral people who can to exit public schools. This exit will begin next year, weakly, and by 2010 it will be complete, as much as it will ever be. We will help them in their transition. We will continue our efforts to find common ground with public schools. We will participate in nothing that is not substantive, sincere, and without deceit--and in the best interest of children, not the system. We continue to thank the Lord for those of you who have met with us in sincerity. We regret those in charge have not opened their eyes and hearts to children and their parents. Lip service is dead--the games are over. America has been patient. We wish you all well.
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