The Long Term Economic Solution

Our economic woes are rooted in our morally and philosophically shallow public education system. The way out is to revise our concept of public education to allow children to attend religious schools.

Politicians and talk-show hosts are engrossed in talk of foreign and domestic economic woes. As Americans, we tend to be optimistic and believe things will work out. However, history shows that this is not a “given.” Things don’t always just “get better.” The success or failure of nations largely flows from the ideas and character of its people. Unfortunately, our nation’s system of public education fails as an adequate resource for either philosophic ideas or moral character. This is not an accidental aspect of secular education.

John Dewey, the early twentieth century education philosopher, influentially argued that religions thwarted the progress of society (and liberty of the individual) by mindlessly preserving a status quo. Whereas earlier generations believed religion was a social necessity to promote both morality and a philosophic framework of reason, Dewey rejected this in favor of a confidence in human reason alone as a source of both morality and progress. Though Dewey did not invent secular education (or have the last word in its development), he legitimated it within a culture accustomed to Christian themes in education.

It is increasingly apparent that secular public education is an inadequate foundation for America. The ideas and character that have developed over time and promoted social progress are, contrary to Dewey’s beliefs, indebted to religious beliefs. Secular schools avoid the deep ideological questions (and answers) that shape the thought and character of each generation.

Our economic woes are surely linked to government policy that stems from a view of human nature, but also from the values and character of the American citizenry. There are no quick or easy fixes. A starting point will be to allow those who hold rational, defensible, and successful worldviews (ie religious communities) to have equal opportunity to educate the youth of likeminded parents. Secular public education must give way to plural public education. The status quo of elitist and bureaucratic control of education is a failure which has led us to our current morass of mind numbing testing and curricular narrowness. The way out is long, but hopeful. Education within religious contexts can be meaningful and life-giving for our children and our society.
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