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Two Competing Visions for American Education

Two Competing Visions for American Education

It’s no secret that America is in the midst of cultural warfare—both sides with competing worldviews and visions for our country. But what you may not realize (or perhaps you do if you’re one of the many parents whose child recently came home from school asking whether it’s true that a boy can turn into a girl), is that our elementary school children are on the front lines.

The battle lines have been drawn between agenda-driven education vs. family-centered education.

There’s no way to sugar-coat it—the agenda-driven side is winning when it comes to public school education. But bear with me. As any soldier will tell you, situational awareness is critical—so is understanding what makes your opposition tick. So, please allow me to explain what agenda-driven education is and how it’s taking over our schools. Then I will share with you Family Policy Alliance’s vision for restoring family-centered education and ask you to join us.

WHAT DEFINES AGENDA-DRIVEN VS. FAMILY-CENTERED EDUCATION?

We’ve identified 4 key aspects that differentiate agenda-driven vs. family-centered education.

1. Children are tools to be used OR treasures to be cherished.

Those with an agenda-driven education policy are blinded to everything except their big cause—making it impossible for them to see and feel the impact on children.

The new “comprehensive sexual education” bill that just cleared the Colorado House is a perfect example of this. The bill requires that children as young as nine-years-old learn about explicit LGBT “sexual experiences.”

Our California ally warns about sexual education guidelines that require teaching children about having multiple sexual partners, allowing abortion providers like Planned Parenthood to be instructors, and warning children about “religion abuse” that would include “forcing others to adhere to rigid gender roles… . Not allowing a partner to do things they enjoy.”

It’s hard to imagine it could get worse, but it can. We’ve seen sexual education or “LGBT curriculum” legislation that specifically includes instruction about how “gender norms” are shameful and bigoted. They teach children that they may choose to “be a boy or a girl” and can access hormones and even permanent sex-change surgery that will allow them to be whatever gender they choose!

These curriculums fail to explain that hormones used in this way are experimental and can lead to problems with bone development and sterilization, that cross-sex surgeries have not proven to relieve mental struggles with gender dysphoria, or that 80% of children who struggle with gender identity but whose bodies are not altered by hormones or surgery go on to abandon confusion and grow naturally into adult life.[1]

Curriculum that advances a cause, regardless of whether children may be harmed, is agenda-driven. Children become tools instead of treasures to guide and nurture.

We envision a future where the impact on children is central to education policy and where families have access to school choice. When a school succumbs to a liberal agenda that harms children and disregards the values families are instilling in their children, families should have the freedom and financial means to select a better school. We shouldn’t underestimate the power of economic incentivization when it comes to influencing schools to do the right thing.

2. Families are excluded OR included.

Once again, Colorado’s new sexual education bill is a perfect example of agenda-driven education. The bill not only discourages parents from being involved—it’s a hostile takeover of parental rights. It provides no clear way for parents to opt their children out of the state’s agenda-driven sexuality curriculum.

Take another example. Late last year, New Jersey proposed a new Department of Education regulation that would require schools to keep vital information about a child’s gender identity secret from parents.  If a parent has a disagreement with their child’s gender identity, school staff are urged to review information on reporting child abuse.

When an agenda drives education policy, parents are simply in the way.

We envision a future where parents’ constitutional right to direct the care, upbringing, and education of their children is restored—because parents are best situated to protect and instill values in their children. We are working with state allies in multiple states to advance legislation that restores parental rights in schools, children’s healthcare, and more.

3. Faith, and even other viewpoints, are censored OR welcomed.

The sponsor of Colorado’s sex education bill admitted publicly that the legislation is specifically intended to exclude faith-based views on sexuality from the classroom. The bill is worded so that it is outright censorship of families’ religious or traditional views on sexuality—making it clear that only the State’s preferred views on sex and sexuality will be tolerated.

Children as young as kindergarteners are targeted for “a re-indoctrination of values” in agenda-driven education. For example, California’s proposed curriculum states that “Dispelling myths about gender expectations in kindergarten can lay the groundwork for acceptance, inclusiveness, and an anti-bullying environment in school…” This means that families’ faith-based or even science-based views on biological sex are “myths” in need of dispelling and have no place in public schools.

We envision a future where both students and teachers can freely live out their faith in school—not forcing anyone to believe as they do, but praying together and for their school, and sharing their faith openly with others. We’re advancing legislation right now that makes clear that students and teachers have religious freedom rights in school. Isn’t it time for more of God in our schools—not less?

4. Curriculum is rewritten to fit a narrative OR teaches historical and scientific fact.

Take New Jersey’s new “LGBT curriculum” policy, signed into law by Governor Murphy, for example. Imagine a literature or history class where students are not just taught the historic contributions of literary giants like Emily Dickinson or former U.S. Presidents—but the curriculum also questions the sexual preferences of our national historic figures.

One textbook example ponders the fact that President James Buchanan “never married [and] had a very good friend who was living with him. He may have been gay.” Because of agenda-driven education policy, a former American president is reduced to the sort of suspect commentary we find in newspaper tabloids and gossip magazines.

We envision a future where parents can trust that their children’s schools will stick to instruction and not indoctrination. We asvance legislation that creates school choice opportunities for families, allows parents to review all curriculum, and ensures parents can opt children into curriculum that may be concerning—without worrying about having to opt out.

FAMILY-CENTERED EDUCATION:  HOW DO WE GET THERE?

  1. Christ-followers must take action.

Our theme verse at Family Policy Alliance is Daniel 11:32, “The people who know their God will stand firm and take action.” We must be salt and light in our community’s schools (whether private or public), and we must advocate for policies that put family-centered education first.

  1. The Church must be united.

When it comes to advancing agenda-driven education, extreme Left groups have been unified. Teachers unions, Planned Parenthood, LGBT activist groups, the ACLU, and others work as a team to advance their agenda sharing the same talking points, goals, and strategy. Jesus completely altered the course of history with 12 ordinary men—imagine what His Church could do if we all stood boldly together for Truth and for the sake of those around us, especially children.

  1. We must elect leaders with godly values.

We are so blessed to live in a country where we, as believers, have both the opportunity and the calling to speak into the direction our government takes. We can petition lawmakers, vote for the ones who most closely align with our values, hold them accountable with our votes, seek out new representation when we need to—and even run for office ourselves. May we never take this for granted as a way to actively love our neighbors.

We are committed to advancing family-centered education. If you agree, will you take action with us today?

Here are 3 ways:

  1. Consider giving a gift to support our policy work advancing the freedom for students and teachers to pray and share their faith in schools.
    GIVE NOW
  2. Do you know a current lawmaker or candidate for local schoolboard, state office, or even Congress who should attend our Christ-centered Statesmen Academy? Contact us to nominate someone at StatesmenAcademy@familypolicyfoundation.com.
  3. There are many bills—both good and bad—pending in states across the country, including bills that may impact state schools for better or worse. Check out our action center to see if there are any bills that need your voice in your state—and take action!
    VISIT THE ACTION CENTER NOW

May God give us the courage to boldly stand firm and take action,

Autumn Leva,
Vice President of Strategy

[1] Dr. Paul McHugh, Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution, The Wall Street Journal (June 12, 2014).