Fruitless Efforts in Education Reform?

I once heard of a farmer who bought some land on which there were a number of apple trees.  Unfortunately, he preferred oranges.  So every season when the apples came in, he would pluck them, and then demand of the trees that they grow oranges the next year.  He never got his oranges.  The moral of the story was that the problem was in the tree’s roots, not its fruit.  I couldn’t help but think of that story when I read a study released this week on public education spending in Tennessee. 

The study was helpful in many regards.  For example, it pointed out that spending on administration in public education is far outpacing spending in the classroom.

Not surprisingly, the study reached a conclusion shared by many conservative politicians, namely, that there is no statistically significant correlation between spending and student achievement.

I also have no doubt that putting more money directly into the classroom instead of the “boardroom” will produce somewhat better academic results.

However, what so many want to ignore is that part of the reason education spending has increased is because it is trying to make up for something that is indispensible to a good education and something for which no amount of money can make up.  And that is a functional family unit.

The fact of the matter is that children need their biological mother and father.  Christians argue that such is true because it is simply the way God designed things, and all things, including families, work better when the instructions are followed.  However, for Christian skeptics, there are mounds of social science data to back up the point.

For example, schools spend money on character education, and well-funded organizations have arisen to support them in that endeavor.  But character is best learned at home where a mom and a dad live responsibly.  They work hard, save, spend wisely, act soberly and responsibly, and honor their commitment to one another.

No amount of money can replace what mom and dad can do for free, if they just will.

Unfortunately, too many adults have acted like selfish children, putting their own desires ahead of spouse and child.  Today, marriage has been reduced to “love,” heterosexuals having thrown the concept of commitment out the window with the acceptance of no fault divorce.

But if love is the sine qua non of marriage, then when you fall out of love, naturally you leave.  You take care of you, and the devil may care about the other spouse or the children.  And, sadly, the devil does care about the aftermath.  In fact, the Evil One loves it, because the odds go up that lives will be destroyed.

For example, the women left behind by divorce have a greater risk of winding up in poverty.  And the children, statistically speaking, will fair worse in numerous indicators of physical, emotional, and scholastic health.

With the experiment taking place with same-sex marriage, we’re now saying that kids don’t even need the value brought to a child’s well-being by the complementary natures and qualities that a mom and dad bring.  Dad can be replaced with a second mom, and mom can be replaced with a second dad.

Commentator Bill O’Reilly said the other day in connection with another national incident involving an out of control juvenile, “There’s plenty of evidence the power structure in America doesn’t want to help solve the dissolution of the traditional family which is the root from which violence and personal failure grows.”

Mr. O’Reilly is correct.  The saddest part is that liberal politicians encourage the pursuit of individual freedom regardless of the cost to others, and too many conservative politicians are unwilling to pay the cost of scorn by liberals in order to stand up for the family.  And so nothing gets done.

Until we address the root of the problem – the dissolution of the traditional family — I doubt we’ll ever see much change in the fruit produced in our public education system.