Have we improved?
When I grew up, there was prayer in schools asking God to bless our school, our teachers and our families (who wouldn't want that?). We said the pledge of allegiance every day and there was a general consensus and understanding that there was a Creator God of the human race to whom we owe our respect and our life.
I was aware of ethnic differences, but I never considered that my “race” was different than any other “race” because we didn't talk much about race. As far as I knew, people were all part of one big family called “the human race.”
No specific Christian denomination was allowed to be taught in school, and it wasn't taught (unless someone attended a denominational school), but most agreed that there was a Creator God, and we knew that Jesus was our savior. We believed that all humans had an equal right to life, education, and success.
I can't help but wonder if the way of community life back in the late 1950's and early 1960's contributed to higher tests scores. There was more respect in the family, in the classroom, toward teachers, the Principal, and toward one another. It appears that education has taken a downward spiral since those years.
I looked back into our American history to see what education used to look like. There were ordinances in place for America's territories due to the expansion westward. The federal government regulated those territories before they were settled and joined to the union as separate states. The federal government made basic laws regarding education within the territories.
It was written that: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged” (Northwest Ordinance, 1787).
Historically since 1962, the educational system within America has been removing every possible reference to its Creator God, contrary to the important role that God played in our foundation as a nation. In 1787, religion, morality and knowledge were combined for educational learning and for the happiness of mankind. I have read about the educational reach that our young students in grades 6-8 grasped during America's early years. It was beyond the level of learning that the majority of our high school graduates attain to today.
Most of America's teachers began teaching in school with their 8th grade educations. Students were able to recite from memory presidential speeches, facts and proclamations that some students may never even read today.
I fear that America has lost her moorings in religion, morality and knowledge, which has had a profound impact on the education that is now taught and how it is learned. American culture has changed and it affects both America's children and those children who are immigrating into this nation. The moral fabric that held our nation together is raveling and it affects multiple areas of American society, including our children's education.
When divorce is rampant; when fathers are absent from the home; when parent(s) rely on drugs or alcohol to cope; these issues effect our children and often, they are a symptom of the health of our society.
Our founding fathers knew that religion, morality and knowledge are to remain together in educating our youth. Without religious moorings, there is no basis on which to hang morality or ethics. To incorporate these values into our schools will provide better and lasting results for America's students.
Northwest Ordinance, 1787. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, accessed from www.ourdocuments.gov.