This speech was presented at a July 2, 1996 Capitol Hill briefing regarding the Defense of Marriage Act. The briefing was sponsored by the Family Research Council.
The legal recognition of same-sex "marriage" has the potential to wreak havoc on an already failing public education system. Without a doubt, it can fundamentally affect every aspect of schooling for children. It will only further erode the moral base on which our society depends and which our young people so desperately need. How ironic that teachers are prohibited by law from sharing their Christian faith, or school from even posting a copy of the Ten Commandments at the same time that homosexuals are radically attacking our bedrock institutions. What message are we giving to highly impressionable students regarding our society's most crucial values?
Doesn't it signify that legally equating same-sex "marriage" with our most important social institution is in direct contradiction to the most deeply held beliefs and values of the overwhelming majority of Americans? When was democracy also redefined to mean that the beliefs and standards of the majority must succumb to the whims of a special interest group -- even when those whims are devastatingly destructive to the common good?
I've been a classroom teacher, reading specialist, an early childhood education coordinator, and principal in the public schools. I've taught first-graders as well as older students. I've worked the suburbs and in the inner cities. I've seen countless programs implemented throughout the years based on whatever the policymakers decided schools should teach or on the latest government- or university-sponsored ideas. Whatever the latest education craze happened to be, educators have been pressured to jump on the bandwagon.
Phonics was displaced by whole language. "Modern math" replaced an emphasis on mastery of computation and problem solving skills. Explicit sexual training replaced "family life education." Consider the recent classic example of William Spady's Outcome Based Education developed as Far West Regional Lab. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent using our children as guinea pigs and our classrooms as labs for unproved educational notions. Programs which are in direct contradictions to the values of mainstream America have been created using taxpayers' money and implemented wholesale in the schools time and time again.
As we have progressively made our schools less about academics -- only 41 percent of the time secondary students spend in schools is on academic subjects -- we have virtually expunged traditional core values from our curricula and textbooks. The most far-reaching and damaging method for accomplishing this ignominious feat has been through the implementation of values clarifications programs. According to William Kilpatrick, "For students it has meant learning to question values they have scarcely acquired, unlearning values taught at home, and concluding that questions of right and wrong are always merely subjective."
Theodore Roosevelt once said, "To educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." When combined whit the unrestrained pursuit of self-interest, the values clarification approach, also known as the decision-making model, is reaping results of violence, mayhem, and devastating of the worst kind among our students. Why would we even consider further denigration of values which have stood the test of time and opt instead for the ill-conceived supposition that all values are equal?
Same-sex "marriage" recognized by law has the mind's numbing potential to bring with it untold quantities of new and ravaging educational mandates. It is possible that classroom teachers all over the country will be required to implement any or all of a range of potential changes in our schools. They might include:
At precisely the time when schools and society are recognizing the serious need for character education -- for personal responsibility, self-discipline and other core virtues -- the most important social institution on our society is receiving the most serious threat it has faced in recorded history.
When doing what feels good matters more than doing what is right, character education based on absolutes and traditional moral standards will become a complete misnomer. Self-control and responsibility for the greater good will be a contradiction to the same-sex "marriage" value system. Since absolutes of right and wrong will be negated, cheating in schools and students stealing from each other will also have to be "tolerated," among other "values."
As Thomas Sowell has stated so well, "To teach issues instead of intellectual principles to school children is like teaching calculus to people who have not yet learned arithmetic, or surgery to people lacking the rudiments of anatomy or hygiene. Worse, it is teaching them to go ahead and perform surgery, without worrying about boring details."
Our schools reverberate with violence, declining achievement, and disrespect for authority. Legalization of same sex marriage will only further erode the morel underpinnings and the culture of the family which has been a primary source of strength throughout the history of this country and of western civilization.
At one time in the history of our country, education was virtually synonymous with moral training. The traditional virtues and cultural mores were passed down from generation to generation because they work.
Our students have been guinea pigs in Russian roulette with their futures long enough. Same-sex "marriage" is a result of a destructive, narcissistic way of thinking and of "value-neutral" curriculums. One can only shudder to consider the horrific possibilities which may occur on the sexuality continuum with the perpetuation of such policies.
Instead of "tolerance and diversity" training for teachers, we need to implement training programs where educators learn the noble facts about our country's history and how to teach them to our students. They need to become well-versed in the legal parameters for teaching about religion and the values and virtues which strengthen our society.
Amitai Etzioni in The Spirit of Community states, "To shore up the moral foundations of our society, we start with the family. Second in line are the schools. They are more than places in which people acquire skills and knowledge....Education includes the reinforcement of values gained at home and the introduction of values to those children whose parents neglected their character formation and moral upbringing. Third are the social webs that communities provide in neighborhoods, at work, and in ethnic clubs and associations....Fourth, the national society must ensure that local communities will not lock in values that we ars a more encompassing and overriding community, abhor..."
He states further, "In the 50s we had a well-established society, but it was unfair to women and minorities and a bit authoritarian. In the 60s we undermined the established society and its values. In the 80s we were told that the unbridled pursuit of self-interest was virtuous. By the 90s we have seen the cumulative results."
Where do we go from here? The destruction of one of our most vital institutions is threatened. We must protect our children now.
Linda Page is a former school principal and currently an education consultant, talk show host and writer.
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