The latest buzz in government education is the trial run of a Federal Department of Education program that would add 300 hours to the educational year. Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee are demoing the program but the aim is to move it into broader application. United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said unambiguously that these 5 states represent “the kernels of a national movement.” 1
Just so we’re clear, 300 hours represents an additional 37.5 school days in the year; assuming the normal 5 day school that is an additional 7 weeks of school. For comparison, and an idea of what will be trimmed to make room for the additional time, summer break typically runs for 10 weeks. Granted, schools systems are considering longer school days, more days to the calendar, or both. Nonetheless, drastic schedule changes are in the making.
Sound extreme? Get used to it. Duncan has a bold vision of how education should be done in this country: “In all seriousness, I think schools should be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day, seven days a week, 11-12 months of the year.” 2 300 hours may very well be the tip of the iceberg.
At this point it would be prudent to consider the first chapter of the book of Daniel. If you aren’t fresh on the historical context for that book let me summarize: the pagan King of Babylon subjugated the nation of Israel. Afterwards he conscripted the most promising Israelite children into a program designed to craft them into ideal servants of his royal court. What steps did the king take to accomplish this goal? He removed the children from their families into the royal household and had them educated “in the literature and language of the Chaldeans” (vs. 1-5). Apparently this program was wildly successful; based on the Biblical record only four of the subjects failed to conform to the culture of their conqueror. 3
At this point it’s pretty clear where I’m going with this, isn’t it?
Make no mistake: the federal government is coming for your children – and they are doing so in the name of education.
Again, Arne Duncan, the man at the helm of the good ship Public School, cannot be accused of being unclear about what is driving his vision of public education in the United States. Our kids aren’t performing up to snuff and the solution is to put them in the government’s care for longer periods of time: “Schools in countries that are beating us are going to school 25-30 days more than us. If you practice basketball five times a week, you’re gonna be better than the people who practice three times a week.” 4
Of course, more time in government schools means less time in the hands of their parents. That’s okay with Duncan though; the government obviously knows best how to educate children and, after all, taking care of kids is a pain anyway, amiright?
“As you guys know, our world has changed, our economy has changed,” said Duncan. “The days of telling kids to go home at 2:30 and having mom there with a peanut butter sandwich, those days are gone. Whether it’s a single parent working one, two, three jobs or two parents working, the hours from 3 o’clock to 7 o’clock are a huge anxiety, and that’s why we have to keep our schools open longer.” 5
Taking care of your kids from late afternoon through dinner time and into bed time? “Huge anxiety”; got to keep the schools open longer so parents don’t have to deal with that mess.
It seems pertinent now to take us back to the text of Scripture and this time look at the game plan God has lain out for the training of children, specifically training children for life and the love of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 11:18-21 – You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.
See the problem? Time in the home is key to training children in the ways of the Lord. Time in the home is also the specific thing the Federal Government wants to take away from parents and children in order to have more time to
learn the ways of the Chaldeans embrace the curriculum of the government school system.
It is truly amazing that the government continually proposes more of what has already failed as a remedy for that failure (rather than, you know, something different). That is, however,a different concern than we address here. In 2005 Al Mohler called for Christians to develop a strategy for exiting the public school system. 7 years later his words sound both prophetic and entirely timely.
I believe that now is the time for responsible [Christians] to develop an exit strategy from the public schools. This strategy would affirm the basic and ultimate responsibility of Christian parents to take charge of the education of their own children. The strategy would also affirm the responsibility of churches to equip parents, support families, and offer alternatives. At the same time, this strategy must acknowledge that [Christian] churches, families, and parents do not yet see the same realities, the same threats, and the same challenges in every context. Sadly, this is almost certainly just a matter of time.
It has long been time for an exit strategy. Arne Duncan and his agenda, driven by all the might of the Federal government, makes that truth ever more clear. Ironically, Duncan unintentionally makes a compelling argument for home and private Christian education. “This quiet revolution is driven by motivated parents who want better educational options for their children,” said Duncan. “They know how important education is to succeed and… they insist on the very best, and they are willing to sacrifice to make it happen.” 6
Indeed. Motivated parents, insisting on the very best for their children and willing to sacrifice to make it happen? That sounds like an exit strategy if I’ve ever heard one. Dad, mom – it’s time to get your kids out of Nebuchadnezzar’s hands.
- http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57556708/schools-in-5-states-to-add-at-least-300-hours-of-classroom-time-in-2013/ ↩
- http://dailycaller.com/2010/07/28/education-secretary-calls-for-12-hour-school-days-longer-school-years/ ↩
- That these four became such spectacular thorns in the side of Nebuchadnezzar is divinely wonderful but doesn’t change the fact that only four were able to resist the Babylonian attempt to paganize them. ↩
- Daily Caller ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- Ibid. ↩