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Education Reform & School Choice

Our country desperately needs a system of education that brings the basics of morality, common human decency, and a focus on the principles of God’s Word, back to the classroom. For the most part, the classrooms in our public schools have become void of the spiritual nourishment needed to sustain a healthy and vibrant society. We see the atrocities occurring across our country at an alarming rate. Undeniably our educational system plays a role in some of these results. Prayer in public schools and an increased awareness of Christian history, including the Ten Commandments, should all be part of a student’s educational exposure.

1.  What is the purpose of education? The primary purpose of education is to train our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Parents have a stewardship responsibility to make sure their children are productive, law abiding, God honoring, and concerned members of society that want to positively influence others and impact the culture.

2.  What is the role of the Federal government in education? The Federal government should not have any authoritative or decision-making role in the education system. The Department of Education should be disbanded and the responsibility should be given back to “We the People” at the state level. We must allow parents the ability to craft the educational experience fit for their child’s specific needs through school choice initiatives.

3.  What is Common Core? Common Core is nothing more than the Federal Government indoctrinating our children with Secular Humanist values. It is a standardized form of teaching where students march in lockstep with federally mandated propaganda. The things being taught, amount of class time, types of testing, accountability practices, and teacher evaluations are all designed to create human robots that support a statist worldview. The humanists (anti-God faction) want to secularize our country through education and currently have free reign in doing so. A common-sense approach to education that de-institutionalizes and de-standardizes the experience will allow teacher and student the ability to form the sacred bonds of trust, as it once was in our country.

4.  Why are standardized testing practices harmful? Standardized test practices are a poor judge of students’ abilities and harmful because teachers start teaching to the requirements of the testing, versus preparing them with real world skill sets. We need to return to classical forms of education where the basic fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic are the foundation upon which higher levels of thinking are taught. It is critical in the current era of knowledge that our children are taught to think logically about what they are seeing and are encouraged to test those boundaries with debating skills. This helps challenge and inspire students to think and reason for themselves, compared to the rote memorization approaches in our current school systems.

5.  Why is school choice important?  School choice is important because it brings the responsibility back to the parents and allows them to design just the right education for the individual needs of their children. This choice helps craft and stimulate a thirst for both education and excellence. Technology has opened a very wide door for school choice to flourish beyond our wildest imaginations. We believe that school choice, inclusive of technology, has created a pathway for everyone to have access to the key learning principles found in the highest quality educational systems. 

6. How Suppressing Freedom of Religion in Schools is Harmful to Education. A great problem to our education system and the moral well-being of our children is that schools have removed all traces of spirituality in the classroom. We need to allow Biblical principles to be taught in the classroom and we need to allow prayer back in our public schools. We continue to be the mouthpiece for bringing the Released Time programs in our state from the shadows of obscurity to mainstream USA. Faith-based training during the public-school day is a tremendous tool that is both underfunded and underutilized.  The Supreme Court has ruled that the Released Time program is constitutional. When conditions of faith are removed from the classroom, you are left with worldview teaching that aligns with both the Secular Humanist religion and the Democrat Socialist political ideology. The strategic endeavors of both are to control all aspects of society with uniform thinking and practice. This is extremely harmful to the developing minds of young children.

7. Thoughts on non-ideological content in schools. Personal bias and ideology play a huge role with individual teacher’s methods of educating. We have a responsibility to allow students to understand life from a variety of perspectives. Children should not be constrained to accept a secular humanist worldview only. What we have now is a slanted perspective in education content. There is no way to strip all ideology from the teaching environment. Every teacher has a worldview of some type that will influence their teaching. What we do know is that we need to “crowd in” the principles of common human decency to include a respect for God, country, and family. Pragmatically, the best thing that we could do is to have a proper balance.  While in the Bible-belt, we certainly have pockets of both secular and spiritual worldviews being taught, unfortunately that is not the case in every school district. We must fight to broaden our student’s exposure to various ideologies. We must also be careful not to confuse ideology with religious (Humanistic) intent and undercurrents. School choice helps “smooth away” the preconditions of unwanted ideology.

8. What can we do to reform education and put a healthy balance back into schools? First, we need to put prayer back in our public schools. We believe that this is a critical piece of any educational legislative initiative. Second, we need to pass legislation that allows Christianity to be taught with equal weight and measure in the classrooms.  

Third, we need to pass legislation holding our public universities accountable for “truth filled” identification of course content.  I believe that we have one of the largest cases of “consumer fraud” going on in the history of the United States of America. We are allowing our public university professors the ability to misrepresent the underlying educational theme, through improper naming conventions (course titles) and misrepresentation in the syllabus. Unfortunately, I have had firsthand experience with this type of fraud. Parents and students need to know EXACTLY what they are going to be taught.  

Fourth, we need legislation to decrease the Department of Education over a 10-year period and push the educational responsibility back to the parents at the state level. “We the People” must be in charge of our children’s education. I would leave nothing at the Federal level except 100 representatives, (2 from each state), as an administrative body, with ZERO decision making authority or influence. Their only job would be coordinating, so that the states would have the benefit of being able to learn from one another. In other words, no federal authority standardizing educational practices, but a communication channel that can share state of the art approaches to education. Finally, it’s time to restore the wisdom of the Ten Commandments to the walls of our educational facilities, at all levels of education. Scripture says that the Word of God shall not return void. With all of the messaging that our children receive, shouldn’t they be allowed to also learn the simple truths of right and wrong?

9. How is leadership accountable for these changes?  We need to consult a broad range of parents, students, teachers, professors, pastors, Christian educators, businessmen, and other faith-based organizations who are connected to the educational space. We need to take a methodical and studied approach to how we can de-institutionalize and de-standardize our educational system, while looking to energize the parent/student/teacher relationships. These traditional relationships were once the backbone to developing the next generation of genuine and diverse leaders.

10. What about a State Superintendent of Education? While the office of the U.S. House from SC has no official decision-making authority in this matter, I would advocate for an appointment.  We must hold our Governor accountable for getting results relating to education. Furthermore, those holding the position of Secretary of Education typically manage educational standards and standardized tests that support Common Core standards at the federal level. We need to go in the opposite direction and hold our local school boards accountable for results. We need to put our local school boards in a glass house and expect results. However, if the Department of Education and Common Core were dismantled and a State Superintendent of Education’s job responsibility was defined (by law) to support school choice alternatives and effectiveness, that is another conversation entirely.

11. Should we increase taxes to provide more funding to local school districts? No. Taxes are not the answer to the educational dilemma in South Carolina. The reform needed in South Carolina is foundational and throwing more money at current practices, would deliver the same results. Ramping up school choice to a high priority level will produce the results that we desire. Florida is a prime example of this. Over the past twenty years, Florida has been focusing on allowing students the freedom to choose which schools they attend. The outcome is that their students have improved drastically, and their high schools currently rank 6th in the nation (according to the U.S. News & World Report), compared to our ranking of 30th. We could learn a few things from our neighbors in the south.  

Committee to Elect Michael LaPierre
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