Preparing For What Lies Ahead

Education As A Strategic Perspective

Our second presentation on Education opens the Tenth Annual Koinonia Institute International Strategic Perspective Conference in Coeur d’Alene Idaho later this month. To whet your appetite, I take this opportunity to briefly update on a few emerging issues from the past several months. This article will be the final in a series of articles included in recent editions of the Personal Update.[1]

The 2015 administration of standardized testing received record push back from parents allowing their children to “opt out” of them. New York State estimated between 220,000 and 250,000 eligible students opted out of their tests, up from an estimated 100,000 the year before. This movement has many leaders and at the same time it has no leaders. Each parent is the leader for their child or children.

The following sums it up the best: “At a time when opt outs have reached critical mass and parents across the state have pledged to refuse to allow their children to be subjected to state-sanctioned harm, both (New York) Governor Cuomo and (New York Education) Commissioner Elia confirm what Hudson Valley parents have long known to be the truth: parents have a fundamental and absolute right to direct their children’s education by refusing the controversial Common Core tests.”[2] In fact, the parents’ productive pushback pushed Cuomo to soften his support of Common Core testing by appointing a commission to review the Common Core initiative and implementation. We will track that story as it develops. We previously reported the federal government threatened a loss of federal funding when Oregon lawmakers proposed and passed a law making it clear parents have the right to opt out.[3]

The original Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was signed by President Johnson in 1965. During this summer’s debate over the “umpteenth” reauthorization of the ESEA, the parental right to opt-out was ping-ponged around by our legislators. The Senate version — dubbed the “Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) of 2015” — conflicted with the House version — dubbed the “Student Success Act (SSA) of 2015” — over several provisions, including opting out of testing requirements. “In the end, the Every Child Achieves Act opt-out provision is not stated as clearly as is the opt-out provision in the House version of the ESEA reauthorization, the Student Success Act, but it is there, nonetheless. The difference is that the ECAA opt-out is left up to the states to decide — in contrast to the House version, which has already made the decision for the states.”[4] How does any of this argument help children learn or help teachers teach? Bureaucratic reform is not educational reform.

During the late summer of 2015, parents, grandparents and teachers were joined by others in a hunger strike to derail Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s attempt to close Dyett High School.

Dyett High School is the only remaining open-enrollment public high school left in the community of Bronzeville. “Supporters say the city neglected the school for years before announcing plans to close it. Under Rahm Emanuel, the city has closed about 50 schools in predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhoods as part of what critics say is a push to privatize education.”[5] This is not the first confrontation with professionals and parents in Chicago for Emmanuel. Shortly after taking office, Emmanuel’s treatment of public school students and teachers led to the Chicago Teachers Union strike in 2012. Before that and while serving as President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff from 2008 through 2011, he pushed through the ill-conceived Race To The Top initiative which served as one of several springboards to the current high stakes testing and aggressive teacher evaluation. And Chicago is not the only current confrontation worth following. Seattle teachers are on strike as school begins in September. “Teachers in Seattle will walk picket lines Wednesday after last-minute negotiations over wages and other issues failed to avert a strike in Washington state’s largest school district. Classes for 53,000 Seattle Public Schools students were canceled Wednesday, on the scheduled first day of school.”[6] These times are unsettling and uncertain and exciting and engaging.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power,
and of love, and of a sound mind.”

— 2 Timothy 1:7

We will expand on these and so many more topics at our upcoming presentation in Idaho. For those of you able to attend or who will livestream the conference, the answer to the question which will be presented is “Malachi 4.” That’s right … when the question appears, “Which Old Testament end-times prophecy includes Jesus, Moses, Elijah and fathers?” the answer is Malachi 4. Your homework from this educator is to read chapter 4 of Malachi (any translation will do and you will never go wrong reading from the International Standard Version!) I look forward to seeing you there and hearing your thoughts on this important strategic perspective.