Category archives: Education

More on the Crushing Costs of Higher Education

by Chris Gacek

December 12, 2008

As a follow-up to my earlier post on the growing unaffordability of higher education and its effects on families, I bring your attention to a Wall Street Journal article.  The author, Philip Shiskin, writes, “As the economy shrinks, joblessness expands and small-business owners lose income, many students and their parents are struggling to make payments for the second half of the academic year, which are typically due this month or in January.”  The story describes one parent who is carrying $100,000 in debt for her three children while planning to fund a fourth child.  Finally, it seems standard now that a good private college or university will be cost $50,000 per year.  In my opinion, this “business model” is completely unsustainable and is crushing parents and young adults across America.

Higher Education’s Broken Business Model

by Chris Gacek

December 8, 2008

    Jay Ambrose has written an important column about a recent study publicizing the skyrocketing costs of higher education.  Ambrose’s article discussed the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education’s recent report, “Mearusing Up 2008”.  “Measuring Up” makes it clear that the higher education business model is broken - like a lot of American institutions, it seems.  These hard realities are underscored by the current economic downturn.

    From 1982-2007, college costs increased 439% while median family income went up only 147%.  Of course, such numbers are always subject to various adjustments and corrections, but that it is a huge disparity that reflects what we have all observed.  College costs are out of control. The New York Times has also discussed the report here and here.

    Ambrose notes that some leaders in the educational establishment want more government money, but he correctly points out that “government assistance and student loan programs have contributed to the inflationary spiral at these institutions already, supporting them in their bad, old ways and keeping them from needed reform.”  There is a great deal of truth in this observation.

    Finally, Ambrose reiterates a point made by Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute, and with which I agree, that a major restructuring of college education may be in the offing.  It may be time for us to consider training professionals - like accountants, financial advisers, software engineers, nurses - with a combination of online education and apprenticeships.  A larger point is this:  the universal four-year liberal arts education may have become economically untenable given the debt levels students are being forced to bear post-graduation.  If the federal government would like to do something, it should construct aid programs that force colleges to compete for federal aid monies and students based on affordable tuition prices and cost containment.

Bob Morrison on John Adams Series

by Family Research Council

July 27, 2008

John Adams’ Pointed Prayer

By Robert G. Morrison

The great popularity of the recent HBO series, John Adams, is well deserved. The movie, unlike the fine David McCullough book, shows how good old honest John got himself in a peck of trouble as the first Vice President. He took up six weeks of the time of the first Senate with long and tedious lectures on titles. David McCullough, when he spoke at the National Press Club in 2000, airily dismissed Adams’ disastrous misstep. “Oh, he was a good, thrifty New Englander. He didn’t want to make the titles hereditary. But he knew everyone loves distinction and he thought titles would be cheap.” The HBO series shows the revulsion of many of the senators at the very idea. Adams wanted the President to be titled: “His high Mightiness, President of the United States and Protector of their Liberties.” Behind Adams’ back, the senators snickered at the portly, balding Vice President, calling him “His Rotundity.”

The series shows Adams in the best of lights, and he deserves much good light. Even when he’s wrong, even when he’s vain and prone to temper tantrums, we see the human toll of his brave labors for Independence. His son Charles dies of alcoholism. His beloved daughter Nabbie dies of breast cancer. Our hearts go out to him and to his beloved Abigail. McCullough told the National Press Club that the correspondence between John and Abigail is on microfiche—and the indelible record of their fidelity and love is five miles long!

When I take the Witherspoon Fellows to Monticello, I always speak of my reverence for Mr. Jefferson, that great defender of religious and civil liberty. But I always disagree with George Will. Will famously wrote that “Thomas Jefferson lived as a free man should live.” No, John Adams lived as a free man should live; he never freed his slaves because he never had any!

My favorite John Adams story dates to the year 2000. Then, Bill Clinton occupied the Oval Office. That December, the Clintons invited their nearest and dearest friends to celebrate the two hundred years that the White House had been the Executive Mansion. They asked David McCullough to come and read from his wonderful biography of John Adams.

As the liberal Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory reported, McCullough ended with John Adams’ famous prayer, the one FDR had had engraved in the mantle in the State Dining Room:

I pray Heaven to bestow the best blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”

Miss McGrory wrote that when the prayer was read, all of Bill Clinton’s best friends looked at their shoes in embarrassment. Honest John Adams had crafted that inspiring petition in 1800. He hurled it like a javelin two centuries into the future and he punctured Bill Clinton’s pretensions with his pointed prayer. God bless John Adams!

The Incredible, Disappearing Catholic School

by Michael Leaser

April 11, 2008

Inner-city Catholic schools are rapidly vanishing, according to the Thomas B. Fordham Institutes new report, Who Will Save Americas Urban Catholic Schools? Since 1990, 1,300 Catholic schools have closed, displacing 300,000 students and costing taxpayers $20 billion to absorb these students into public schools. These closures have had little to do with performance and much to do with Catholics leaving the inner cities for suburbia.

The report calls on parishioners, philanthropists, and others who recognize the quality educational option Catholic schools can provide, even to non-Catholics, to support these inner-city schools directly and through development and marketing plans that will ensure Catholic schools remain a vibrant and valuable player in American education.

More on the California Homeschooling Decision

by Chris Gacek

March 11, 2008

A great deal has happened since my Friday posting on the California home school decision — In re Rachel L. First, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a press release on Friday striking out at the court decision:

Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide whats best for their children. Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their childrens education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts dont protect parents rights then, as elected officials, we will.”

This opens the possibility that political action, in addition to legal appeals, may lie ahead. However, proponents of home schooling in California are wary of a legislative option because a new law might codify a set of parent-school relationships that are less friendly than those in place before the court decision. Given the liberal composition of the California legislature, that is a justifiable concern.

Second, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has taken a step to nullify the decision. While the Rachel L. family and its California counsel plan to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court, HSLDA has also posted a petition online collecting the signatures of those who would like the Court to “depublish” the opinion. HSLDA plans to formally ask the Court to depublish the Rachel L. opinion which would render it unusable “by other California courts” and eliminate the decision as a threat to other homeschoolers. By gathering signatures, HSLDA would like to demonstrate to the Court “that many other people, both in California and across the country, care deeply about homeschool freedom in California.” Depublishing would be a simple way to alleviate this crisis.

Third, Eugene Volokh, a libertarian/conservative UCLA law professor and blogger wrote about the home schooling case on March 6th — as edited by Alliance Defense Fund:

Its pretty well-settled that the parental rights cases — such as Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) — dont secure a right to home-school … .

Religious homeschooling is a different matter. Wisconsin v. Yoder held that the Amish could pull children out of school at age 14, and then vocationally train the children at home, notwithstanding a compulsory education law that generally required school attendance until 16. And Yoder survives the Courts decision in Employment Division v. Smith (which mostly holds that the Free Exercise Clause doesnt require religious exemptions from generally applicable laws, but which expressly preserves such claims in parental rights cases like Yoder).

What appears to be the crucial California case, People v. Turner (1953), has some difficult language for the proposition that there is a constitutional right to homeschool:

…, we have been unable to find a single case in which it has been held that so-called compulsory attendance statutes are rendered unconstitutional and void merely by reason of a failure to recognize home instruction as an alternative to attendance in the public schools.

Well, only one thing is certain — we are destined to hear a great deal more about this case and the related legal arguments. A great deal has changed in California since 1953, and the Court would be wise to accommodate the educational arrangements that now exist for something like 200,000 students.

California Decision Highlights Judicial Trend against Parental Rights in Education

by Chris Gacek

March 7, 2008

On February 28, 2006, a three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal handed down a ruling that may threaten the continued viability of home school arrangements in California. In this case, In re Rachel L., a lower court decision holding that parents have a constitutional right to home school their children was reversed. The appellate court held that parents do not have such rights. Furthermore, the decision appears to have rendered the vast majority of California home schooling arrangements violative of state law.

According to the Los Angeles Times, California law does not address home schooling in its statutes unlike thirty states that do. Apparently, the California Department of Education and local school districts have had a somewhat relaxed approach to home schooling. This has allowed the number of home schoolers to grow considerably. Estimates are that 166,000 children in California are taught at home, so the impact of this decision will be significant.

This case and two others of recent vintage, Fields v. Palmdale School District (U.S. 9th Cir. 2005) and Parker v. Hurley (U.S. 1st Cir. 2008), remind us of the fact that powerful elements within our society believe that parents have few, if any, rights over the educational content of their children. Once the state has spoken parents have to fall in line. In Palmdale, the Ninth Circuit used a dispute over psychological surveys that included questions about sex to assert that parents have no constitutional right … to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise…. (The parents were not told about the sex-related questions when their consent for participation was sought by the school.)

In Parker, a Christian parent objected to his young child being given educational materials promoting homosexual parenting and marriage. Here again, the appellate court affirmed the district courts ruling which stated that the constitutional right of parents to raise their children does not include the right to restrict what a public school may teach their children.

At bottom, the current case in California (Rachel L.), Palmdale, and Parker indicate that parents, pro-family groups, and friendly politicians will have to fight for the right to protect their children. They will need to aggressively pursue legislatively corrections. That may be possible in California regarding the status of home schooling, but it will not always be possible. Barring a legislative fix, it becomes clear how important it is to have judges on the bench who understand that the rights of parents are not derived from the state. Rather, parents have inalienable rights that supersede those of government — particularly when the moral education of their children is at stake.

Dr. John G. West to speak at FRC

by Robert Morrison

February 5, 2008

FRC is honored to present a Witherspoon Lecture on Tuesday, February 12th at noon by Dr. John G. West. Dr. West will speak on Darwin Day in America? This lecture is co-sponsored with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) of Wilmington, Delaware. Dr. Wests new book is an in-depth analysis of the drive to replace Lincolns Birthday with an international secular holiday called Darwin Day. Dr. West is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute. He will critically examine the movement to indoctrinate students in Darwinian naturalism. Darwin Day in America shows how our politics and culture have been dehumanized in the name of science.

Please join us in our newly redesigned Media Center at 801 G St. NW for this stimulating lecture and discussion. Hardbound copies of Darwin Day in America will available for purchase at a discounted price. Dr. West has graciously agreed to sign copies of his book for attendees. To RSVP, please call 1.800.225.4008 or register online here. The lecture will also be webcast live at www.frc.org.

Straw Poll on the Issues

by Jared Bridges

October 23, 2007

The FRC Action Values Voter Straw Poll has been making lots of news, but one of the poll questions that hasn’t yet gained as much attention was question #3, which asked participants to rank the order of importance among a set of issues. Here are the results:

Please indicate which issue is the most important in determining your opinion of the candidate that you will most likely vote for?

Here’s the statistical breakdown:

ISSUE VOTES PERCENTAGE
Abortion 2398 41.52%
Same-sex “Marriage” 1141 19.76%
Tax Cuts 626 10.84%
Permanent tax relief for families 563 9.75%
Federal “hate crimes” legislation 331 5.73%
No vote on this question 181 3.13%
Taxpayer funding for abortions 151 2.61%
Prayer in schools 93 1.61%
Reinstatement of the “Fairness Doctrine” 88 1.52%
Public display of the Ten Commandments 57 0.99%
Enforced obscenity laws 54 0.94%
Embryonic stem cell experiments 48 0.83%
Voluntary, student-led prayer in schools 44 0.76%
Total 5,775 100%

Now that you’ve got the numbers, feel free to crunch away.

Sex, Drugs, and Encouragement at Boulder High

by Family Research Council

May 23, 2007

As a guest speaker for an assembly at Boulder High School in Colorado, UCLA psychology professor Joel Becker had a surprising message of “encouragement”: Becker encouraged the studentssome as young as 14to have sex (with men, women, or whatever combination they prefer), to do drugs, and to “please masturbate.”

The following audio clips from Becker’s portion of the “sex and drugs” assembly were provided by KOA Radio in Denver:

The Slippery Slopes Of “Brokeback Mountain”

by Tony Perkins

May 16, 2007

Here’s today’s Washington Watch Daily commentary from FRC Radio:

To what extent will the public schools go to indoctrinate our children? They apparently will ford every stream and climb every mountain, including Brokeback Mountain. That is why one family is suing the Chicago Board of Education. Twelve year-old Jessica Turner was forced to watch the movie about illicit homosexual behavior during class. Her grandfather said, This was the last straw. [T]he lawsuit was necessary because… [this] was against our faith. According to reports, a substitute teacher showed Brokeback Mountain at Ashburn Community Elementary School without parents knowledge or consent. The lawsuit claims the woman shut the classroom door and told students, What happens in Ms. Bufords class stays in Ms. Bufords class. The film, which follows two gay cowboys, is rated R for nudity and sexuality. In other words, the movies hardly appropriate for adultslet alone children. But unfortunately, these are the drastic measures teachers are willing to take to indoctrinate our kids with the homosexual agenda. And unless more families tell the school to take a hike, these attacks on childrens innocence will continue to climb.

To download this commentary as an MP3, follow this link. For an e-mail subscription to the Washington Watch Daily radio commentary, go here.

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