Articles From the June 1994 Unification News


American Education

by Ken Hendricks

Naturally, as parents, we should be concerned with the overall quality of education presented in our public schools, since it is integrally related to the education we give our children in our homes. We as parents believe that our children will receive an education which is in line with our own personal and collective views. We all want our children to be smart. But we also want them to be good. We want them to achieve high intellectual scores. But we want them to develop the "heart" to help us too in our endeavor to raise our families. Parents expect a lot from their children.

Today's parents do not accept the false notion that society is to blame for an individual's failure. I personally came from a poor background. I distinctly remember seeing my parents' income tax form one year sometime back in the '60s. Together they had made less than $6,000 that year. We lived in a three-room house made from railroad ties and mud, which sank about two feet into the ground so that the windows were at ground level. There was no running water. There was no indoor plumbing. We used an outhouse in back for which my father dug a new hole each year, and my brother and I carried water in our little red wagon for drinking and washing on a daily and weekly basis respectively. All of this I did until I was sixteen years old, until I was a sophomore in high school. That was 1965. Throughout all this my parents made very clear their expectation of me. In retrospect, I'm sure I disappointed them, sadly. But that's a different story. Today I believe the education I got at home thirty years ago far surpassed what I learned in any school I've attended. My poverty didn't lead me to crime. I respect elders even now greeting them with a yes, sir or hi, ma'am, and I will never allow my integrity to be compromised. That is me. But what about others?

Violent crime has been on the rise in America in epidemic proportions now for the past couple of decades. Why? I don't believe it has peaked yet. Many of those involved in drug dealings and violent assaults were not uneducated. In fact, those who have taken to crime are very aware of what they're doing.

So, what of their education? Just last week in our local newspaper, another study revealed once again that American students were at the bottom of the list (on the average) in math and sciences, as opposed to Asian and other foreign students. (However, some of the top scorers came from North Dakota.) This downward trend in American education is frightening. It leads us to really question the validity and integrity of the contents of that education and of those who make the decisions concerning the education of our young. Perhaps some of those very fundamental decisions were wrong, or at best, were inadequate in dealing with the problems. The true judging of it all lies in the results-the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In addition, we parents have not always been as active in the educational process as we should have, leaving much of the work to others whom we have trusted to make the right decisions. However, parental involvement is absolutely essential in securing the welfare of our children. I believe that it is because of our own indolence that we have become a second-rate nation morally, spiritually and educationally.

The budget we discuss here tonight is not really the concern. Although to some taxpayers, it's a big concern. However, if moneys spent were producing an outstanding result, we would hear very few complaints. Therefore, we would like to make this suggestion: Hold the budget. Freeze it. Make no more increases for up to five years if necessary. More money does not equal more education. In fact, it probably exacerbates the problems we are facing. Stop it now. Then together with a group of citizenry representing parents (PTAs), businessmen, city council, school board officials, teachers, clergy and students, whomever, let's work on improving the contents of the curriculum until there is an increase in our efficiency output in all areas, not just one.

On this same note, the education of our young is not something for profit or for one's own interest. It is a service paid for by the public taxes in hopes of attaining the greatest benefit, the education of our youth. Public education is not a business. In business, if an employee doesn't perform well or put out, he or she is usually let go. Tenured employees tend to slacken in their performance over the years. Unreasonable pay hikes for mediocre performance go against the basic economic principles this country was built on. Misappropriated funding breeds corruption. Taxation without representation breeds revolution. Unprofitable businesses manufacturing inferior products usually shut down or are run out of town. Without a doubt, the future of public education is in jeopardy. Mind you, we are not against pay hikes, tenured benefits or the like. We only ask moderation and quality performance for the money invested. You must patrol yourselves and bring back integrity to education. If anyone is here just for the job or just for the money, then get out. But if one is sincerely concerned with raising our young to be the best that they can be, then by all means bite the bullet together with us and let us all sacrifice a little more to make success happen.

Now may I address our second point-the quality of curriculum? The primary concern for us tonight should not be placed on the dollar amount of the budget itself, but on the contents of what the budget is funding. What is that budget being used for? Where is it going? Are we paying $2,000 for a $20 hammer? Are we providing our youth quality or waste? Are all courses taught suitable for our children? Which courses are X-Rated, and which are not?

Granted, some aspects of the budget are absolutely necessary. Maintenance or the addition of teachers for greater classroom efficiency are entirely reasonable. Mandated salaries in periodic increments? Well, most parents I know don't have THAT kind of financial security. Ethics. Ideals. Morals. Principles. Standards. Where are they? Today a child is taught to read, write, count, compute, draw, sing, formulate abstract thought, etc. But after that, then what? Houses made of mediocre wood and stone are not good houses. A society made up of mediocre individuals does not garner a better society.

Of course, the argument goes like this. Children should learn those values in their home (and I believe most do). Most parents teach their children to be loving and compassionate. Most parents teach their children to respect parents and elders. Most parents teach their children to seek peace, not war. Most parents teach their children prosperity as opposed to poverty. Most parents teach their children not to have sex before marriage. Parents do not hand over condoms to their children. Yes, I believe that most parents teach their children various forms of ethics, morals, ideals, principles and standards. These are the most natural things that a child learns from birth. Why then are they not being reinforced in our school systems? Basically, our schools should be extensions of our families on a larger social level. Why should the standards, morals and ethics at school be different from those at home or-the worst-case scenario-nonexistent? It leads us to believe that the individualism expressed in America today is very wrong. It is deceptive, coercive and self-destructive. Public schools are not the place to teach this kind of individualism. Why am I dwelling on these points? Well, primarily because what I'm saying is directly related to curriculum. Most school curricula do not support the standards and mores taught in a home, and therefore the result is a confused child and an abnormal amount of unproductive individuals. I believe that this aberration is directly related to America's most serious problem, namely, its insatiable preoccupation with sex and sexually-related activities. Let's face it, ladies and gentlemen, we cannot teach children to beware of society's dangers if we are teaching them to deviate from accepted norms and standards. Please excuse me, but I must ask each one of you these questions:

1. Do you have young children?

2. Do you personally know what is being taught as sex education here in our district?

3. Have you seen the materials?

4. Would you encourage your teenage children to go out and have sex?

5. Do you advocate abstinence as a deterrent to AIDS?

6. Would you encourage your 10-, 11-, 12-year-old to masturbate?

7. Do you believe that homosexuality is normal?

8. Do you use condoms as a preventative to AIDS?

9. If you knew someone was HIV-positive, would you still have sex with them, protected by a condom?

Why then in God's good name would a board of educators elected and appointed by local citizenry allow things to be taught which they themselves wouldn't think appropriate for themselves or their own children?

In an article in the Unification Church newsletter HeartWing, Mrs. Hope Igarashi, a mother of four, mentioned that masturbation was condoned in so-called health videos presented in her son's school in Weehawken. I don't believe that the integrity of human beings has to be reduced so low as to sit around and masturbate every time one has a sexual urge. Whatever happened to self-control? If masturbation is such a cure-all for sexual tension, then perhaps we should have public forums where we all masturbate together, then begin our meetings. Perhaps fathers and sons and mothers and daughters should masturbate together as a means to deepen parent-child bonding?

I won't go into the whole sexual catalog of activities under consideration to be taught even at the kindergarten level, or now being taught in public and private schools. The truth of the matter is that premature sexual activities do not enlighten a child's character. Rather, premature sexual activities demean a child's character, confusing the individual and inhibiting normal growth. We see this all the time in child-abuse cases. If we were to reveal the contents of what is being taught in public schools as sex education, we would find the materials bordering on the pornographic and the advice abusive. The truth of the matter is that the human being is a spiritual being first, and a physical being second. Our mind is our subject. Our body is supposed to be the object to our will. We are meant to control ourselves, not succumb to ourselves. Integrity and pride are spiritual elements, not sexual elements.

A second case in point which illustrates what I've just said occurred at last month's PTA meeting. There we received a condensed version of a guidance course called "Risk Behavior," primarily concerned with individuals plagued with suicidal tendencies, but a crossover for other problems such as sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, family problems, etc. There we saw a 40-minute video about some very destructive messages in rock music and the power they have over our teens. At the conclusion of the program, the parents expressed dismay at the contents, but not alarm. The consensus of the twelve or so parents there was: "each parent was shocked at what they saw and heard, but each parent was not alarmed because he or she felt that one's own child would not participate in those forms of aberrant activity in particular."

In essence, the feeling I received from these parents was that they had enough confidence in their children to believe that they wouldn't do such a deviant thing as take drugs, date rape, or fornicate. These were the opinions of parents of children going to our schools. Therefore, reciprocally, don't you think we should reinforce those parents' beliefs that their children have the integrity to want to fulfill their parents' will first and their own wills second, even if it means denying themselves? We should not be afraid to ask our youth to sacrifice themselves for a higher purpose. In the case of sacrificing sex, is it too much to support the notion that the ultimate outcome would be a stable marital relationship and the fulfillment of their ideal of love? For a child to know that his or her parents expect the highest forms of integrity and obedience is a blessing, not a curse. In reality, for a parent to place limits upon a child is truly an act of love from the parent.

If parents aren't giving their children condoms, why then in God's good name are school boards doing it? If parents aren't telling their children to masturbate, why in God's good name are school boards doing it? Why would a school board allow something to be taught which their constituency wouldn't think appropriate for their own children? I'm not making these things up. In New York City they're handing out condoms as a preventative for AIDS. In fact, it's a law there. Sounds good. But no one tells the kids that condoms were never meant to prevent AIDS. They don't tell kids that the size of sperm is about 10,000 times larger than the AIDS virus. They don't tell kids that abstinence is the best surefire way to deter AIDS. By giving kids condoms they are placing our children at lethal risk. In light of AIDS, giving kids condoms is worse than child abuse. It is akin to manslaughter, if not first-degree murder.

My suggestion is this: this year initiate new courses on ethics, morality, spirituality, religion and the Divine. These classes do not have to violate any form of constitutional rights in that they can be formulated and agreed upon by us, ourselves, for our community, in an attempt to deter further negative results due to the lack of these disciplines. Since we are created beings unable to create ourselves, unable to pick and choose our parents or our dates and places of birth, these courses should emphasize the characteristics and nature of an omniscient, omnipresent Creator. And what's the harm if that Creator should be called God? These courses should underscore the necessity of virtue, respect and honor. They should accentuate the expression of goodness, decency and morality. They should emphasize abstinence as the absolute deterrent to AIDS.

Health classes should deal with anatomy from purely a biological viewpoint. Genuine sex education along with its spiritual aspect should be taught in a religious context, not a secular one. Virginity and chastity should be held up with the highest integrity. Excess and overindulgence should be treated and labeled for what it is: substance abuse. Promiscuity, adultery and infidelity should be treated like any other disease, with serious consequences for character unbecoming. Self-control, not self-indulgence, should be the focus and goal. Homosexuality should be labeled just what it is: an aberration with no place in a godly society. Children emulate what they see. Without clear values and role models to learn from, they grow up at a severe disadvantage. If we are to change the way we've done things in the past, we must do it now.

Therefore, these ideas should be religious in nature and can be formulated by a host of local parents, clerics, social workers, psychologists, etc., through the consolidation of basic principles, non-reflective on any one denomination, but uplifting to all. Denial of an all-powerful creative being preexistent of our existence is fundamentally wrong. Such a godly being must be included in all we do in order that we have a standard toward which to strive.


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