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  • Writer's pictureShelli Owen

ACADEMICS – “Weal or Woe?” Series

Updated: Sep 9, 2023


Education Pie Chart: What's the Main Goal of a Public School Education? 45% Prepare students academically, 25% Prepare students for work, 26% Prepare students to be good citizens, 4% Not sure (Source: see Endnote #6)

“Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power... loaded down with sins and swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

2 Timothy 3:1–7 (bolding mine)


When I finally settled on a major in college in my early twenties it was in “early childhood education.” In those early years of college, the more I learned about what was being called “education,” the less it seemed like real education to me. It didn’t take me long to realize the term “education” in this academic context didn’t mean what I had always thought it meant.


Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”[1]

There was a powerful agenda in place behind the public or state education system from preschool to graduate schools in the United States of America. I saw within public primary and secondary education there were bounds within which a teacher must “play” or be “out.” These bounds still exist and have tightened since then. Later, I also learned these bounds extend to state or federally-funded universities as well. Eventually, because of them, I decided not to pursue further teaching credentials—or a degree. I just knew I wouldn’t do well trying to play within the bounds. I knew I’d never be able to conscience joining the NEA.


What is the NEA? It’s the National Education Association—the teacher’s union of the United States of America for public or federally-funded schools (universities included).[2] Teachers in the U.S. receive tenure by joining and complying with the directives and stipulations of this union. Tenure gives teachers job security or “protection from summary dismissal.”[3] And, because of the size and scope of the NEA with its affiliated teachers and leaders, and considering the amount of control and influence it wields, it may be considered the most powerful union in the world.


At first, I had a hard time articulating what I thought a good education might look like. Later this provoked other questions. For one: What is education meant to achieve?


Now that I have a much clearer understanding of how things work, I have other questions. Does present-day education in the United States accomplish its own goals? Why or why not? In keeping with the theme of this series: What does education have to do with weal or woe?[4] These are things I hope to address to some degree in this article.


First, what is the purpose of education? The answer to this question is as varied as the number of people you ask. As Sloan, a former Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) editor put it: “You might have better luck asking, ‘What is the meaning of life?’”[5] However, don’t be fooled! This doesn’t mean there aren’t set objectives or agendas behind the current education system in U.S. schools and universities. While all this theorizing is going on, there is enough consensus that very real and strong national and state policies have emerged, curriculums have been developed, textbooks have been printed and disseminated, and specific subjects are being taught or pushed in our public schools.


For this reason, let’s look at the NEA. What does the NEA have to say about the purpose of education? The NEA put forward the following introduction to their Purpose of Education statement in 2016:


Is the primary role of public education to provide rigorous academic instruction? Or is to promote good citizenship? How about creating a skilled, career-ready workforce? According to the 2016 PDK poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, there is no clear consensus on the purpose of education. Fewer than half (45%) of the respondents say that academic achievement is the main goal and only one-third of that segment believe that "strongly." Citizenship and preparing students for work were both cited by roughly 25%.


When asked to choose, 68% to 21% said they would prefer schools to focus more on career/technical skills-based classes than to offer more honors or advanced academic classes.


“The American public does not agree on a single purpose for public education,” said Joshua P. Starr, the chief executive officer of PDK International.[6]


From this declaration, it sounds like the NEA has simply been trying to defer to “the American public.” And the American public can’t or won’t make up its mind. So what has this powerful entity been doing while the American public has been so indecisive? Well, policies have still been made, curriculums have still been developed, textbooks have still been printed and disseminated, and specific subjects are still being taught (or pushed) in our public schools.


If you have been paying attention, you will be aware that proponents of Darwinian “science” and Marxist-based “social justice” movements have gained a powerful and influential national platform and training ground through the NEA, and therefore the education system in the United States of America.[7] These ideologies have gradually saturated the NEA and taken it over through the support of NEA leaders and many of its members. What this amounts to is that the NEA heads one of the greatest propagandizing machines the world has ever known—along with the “modernized” or “progressive” state-run education systems of China, Australia, Europe, Canada, and so on.


Does this just sound alarmist? Like one more conspiracy theory among many? I wish it was just that. However, it doesn’t take much to prove that all state and secular universities and most public primary and secondary schools, as of 2023, have espoused a major part if not all of the “educational” objectives (or agendas) pushed by proponents of these intertwined ideologies of Darwinian “science” and Marxist-based “social justice” through means of NEA members and leadership.


What’s my proof? Where’s the hard evidence? Again, it’s in the accessible educational objectives, curriculums, textbooks, and specific subjects being taught or pushed in our public schools. Over time, they have been aligning more and more with these agendas. You only have to delve a little into past and existing materials to witness the ideological foundations upon which they are built. Darwinian “science” or macroevolution is taught as proven, irrefutable fact. Progressivism (woke-ism, Democratic Socialism, or “social justice”) is the underlying social “gospel” or “truth” behind school teaching—social studies, history, literature, etc.; rules; and “discipline.”


If this is a bad thing, why haven’t people spoken up about it? Or why aren’t people seeing it? Maybe because most of us were “educated” by this powerful brainwashing machine and our children have been as well. The real question is: Can you see it? This would only be possible if you, having gone through this system yourself, somehow escaped becoming intellectually and emotionally influenced, attached to, or brainwashed by the underlying propaganda that has been in place for a long time and to varying degrees—as it has been tolerated—in our schools and universities. For me, it wasn’t until later, through home-educating my children, that I found I was educating myself as well—for the first time. I was unlearning “fact” after “fact” I had received through the significant brainwashing from my own public school “education.”


Still, if it is so terrible, you’d think more people would be seeing the problems with it. Many people have, but they are the minority. Why? Especially at first (in the early sixties), these ideologies were not taught (or pushed) openly, especially in primary and secondary schools where parents were most involved. Nevertheless, these ideological leanings, as they have wheedled their way into the “education” system, have grown stronger and stronger with time. They have always been the most potent in our universities, where parents are, by mutual consent, less involved. Our universities, the training grounds for the future schoolteachers of America, are the biggest advocates and have become the most powerful agents for furthering these godless “scientific” and “social justice” ideologies to the next generation. These ideologies, or ones leading up to them, and their following policies have been so gradually implemented and this push has been going on for so long now that they have been assimilated as “normal” and business has gone on as usual.


Only recently, due to our current, also evolving social-economic-political climate, have these ideologies become much more overt and complete. Nevertheless, they still must pose as more “harmless” than they are, or they would be recognized for what they are and rejected. The NEA presents the combined ideologies of Darwinian “science” and Marxist-based “social justice” carefully, with nice-sounding purpose-of-education words (taken from the NEA home page, online) that make them appear to be objectives everyone should get behind. According to the NEA, these—now their—ideologies are the way toward: “student success,” “your rights and workplace,” “professional excellence,” “advocating for change,” and being united in a worthwhile “movement,” which you should join.[8] Also (from the NEA’s home page), you can rest assured the leaders behind these objectives of education are the foremost authorities and backers of “racial and social justice,” “equality for all,” and are encouraging people to “safeguard and strengthen public education through collective action, advocacy, and policy change”.5 Who would not believe or want something so good? Who would not want to be a supporter of such a worthy cause?


Who would not? Only “evil” people, of course! Only people, for example, who believe in God rather than Darwinian “science” or the Marxist form of “social justice”; or people who are aware of the agenda behind the agenda and are deeply opposed to it.


Here’s a better question: If this agenda (these ideologies) behind the agenda (these objectives of “education”) is so wonderful, why haven’t proponents been able to be more open and above board all along? The answer? Again, people would recognize it for what it is. Generally, people reject straight-out lies and unhealthy extremes. They would rightfully be wary of yet another movement pushing a godless (amoral) utopia. If this agenda were to succeed, would our children and society receive in reality what is promised—which is social and economic “equality” and a better, more intelligent world? The answer? Only if centuries of real-life lessons from history and worldwide economic, social, and political examples end up proving to be a false barometric reading—in this single instance. Or, only if consequences for human choices are somehow suspended.


It’s not just the leadership of the NEA that has been side-speaking. Most state or secular universities are still not openly admitting their alignment with this ideological agenda yet, either. Maybe because there are still some “conservative” parents or parties footing the bill for their child’s education. (Have you ever considered who or what’s behind the push for state- or federally-funded college?) We have as a current example of “neutrality,” the following randomly chosen statement of the purpose of education from one of our state universities, the University of Minnesota:


Education is the social institution through which a society teaches its members the skills, knowledge, norms, and values they need to learn to become good, productive members of their society. As this definition makes clear, education is an important part of socialization. Education is both formal and informal. Formal education is often referred to as schooling, and as this term implies, it occurs in schools under teachers, principals, and other specially trained professionals. Informal education may occur almost anywhere, but for young children it has traditionally occurred primarily in the home, with their parents as their instructors. Day care has become an increasingly popular venue in industrial societies for young children’s instruction, and education from the early years of life is thus more formal than it used to be.[9]


Wait! What? This sounds fair enough! —But is it? Look again. Exactly what “skills, knowledge, norms, and values” are being taught? Who determines in our relativistic society what “good, productive members of society” should act, be, or look like? What exactly is meant by “socialization”? Who qualifies as “specially trained professionals”? How, or in what schools and under what ideologies, are these “professionals” to be trained?


Once more, you don’t have to dig very deep or do much comparison to find the answers to the above questions. You only have to look at the course offerings and descriptions, skim a few textbooks, and attend a class or two. The NEA’s ideological agenda to push Darwinian “science” and Marxist-based “social justice” is alive and well in practice behind this, seemingly neutral, stated purpose of education.


A person can hardly overestimate the amount of power and influence that our state-run universities and schools in the United States hold and exercise. If this kind of unelected (by the people) power and control by those shaping the minds and hearts of America’s young people—our future isn’t scary enough for you, I don’t know what would be. And, over the last decade especially, there have been indicators that the NEA is not only interested in promoting its objectives; it also wants to remove the power of dissenting voices. It seems the radical indoctrination of our young people isn’t their only “educational objective”—but total control is.


Why aren’t people concerned? Some are! But how can a majority be concerned or alarmed if they have themselves been indoctrinated to believe in the NEA’s agenda?


It's a vicious cycle. How can it be broken? What is the solution?


Let’s back up a little and look at a proposed Purpose of Education statement that was put forward when “white supremacy” and “white privilege” actually were popular and strongly, even predominately promoted—by the majority—in some places in the United States. It was written by a black man who suffered directly because of these circumstances that were very real and certainly not imagined for him. His name was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Following is an excerpt from his ideas concerning the purpose of education:


It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the ligitimate [sic] goals of his life.


Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half-truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.


The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals. (Dr. King, February 1947)[10]


I believe Dr. King would be appalled by the kind of “education” the youth of today are receiving in our public schools in the name of “science” and “social justice.” Teaching people what to think is not the same as teaching them how to think and encouraging them toward a desire to learn. Teaching and reinforcing through repetition what people “should” think is propaganda. Also, sneaking or forcing ideologies into the system behind people’s backs is deceptive. I believe pushing an agenda in place of education is what Dr. King was adamantly opposed to and what he was warning future generations against.


Through supporters in the NEA, the exclusive agendas of Darwinian “scientists” and Marxist-based “social justice” have forced their way into almost every subject taught through the “educational” systems of our schools in the United States. Paradoxically, Darwinian “science” and Marxist-based “social justice” are taught as absolute truth, while at the same time, their proponents deny the existence of absolutes—especially of God. Our children and young people are receiving almost daily doses of this purposeful, repetitive propaganda posing as “education.”


Dr. King was also aware that learning does not happen in a social vacuum. He observed that the focus of education cannot solely be on intellectual astuteness, but that there needs to be essential training in wisdom—or the right application of knowledge—and good character as well. This seemed to be at the heart of what he believed an excellent education should include. Why do you suppose wisdom and good character were such a central concern for him? In his own words:


The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.


The late Eugene Talmadge, in my opinion, possessed one of the better minds of Georgia, or even America. Moreover, he wore the Phi Beta Kappa key. By all measuring rods, Mr. Talmadge could think critically and intensively; yet he contends that I am an inferior being. Are those the types of men we call educated?


We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus char- acter—that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.


If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, “brethren!” Be careful, teachers! (Dr. King)[10]


When Dr. King spoke of wisdom—or the right application of knowledge—and character or practiced behaviors based on moral foundations, he was referring to God-given, Judeo-Christian morals put forward in the Holy Bible. Namely, as clarified, amplified, and represented through the person of Jesus. Dr. King was a Christian—a Baptist minister—who drew on the Bible as a basis for His teachings. As a Baptist, he would have considered God to be the inspiration behind the Bible, and the source of the absolute truths on which society can rely for a solid, moral foundation.


The godless—amoral—ideologies of Darwinian “science” and Marxist-based “social justice” are in stated and practical opposition to God and morality (objective truth); so they are also in opposition to Dr. King, to his God, and to his ideas concerning the purpose of education. Godly wisdom and moral character are not just unimportant to present “educators” they are antithetical—and something they are actively working against both directly and indirectly through the promotion of their ideologies. The fruits of the lack of the teaching and promotion of godly wisdom and morality in our “education” system are becoming more and more evident in our society. The evidence of this failing is in the rise of suicides, bullying, violence, crime, and other such wonders. (But this is a topic for another time.) A good education really can’t just be an intellectual exercise, it must also help prepare us for living a moral, wise, productive life in society with others.


Modern “academia” has a major flaw and paradox, similar to that of Darwinian “science” and Marxist-based “social justice.” It puts itself forward as the ultimate authority and refuses to allow anything outside itself as potentially valid or true. It rejects, halts, and even works against a true education, which includes inquiries into objective truth and the very source of wisdom and morality—God.


As people rely more and more on our schools for all “real” learning, they begin to believe that anything that isn’t believed or countenanced by accredited teachers and professors should not be considered valid. Similar to the spirit of Darwinian scientists and Marxist-based ideologues, these academics hold a naturalistic and atheistic point of view. Faith is placed in human abilities, achievements, and potential alone.


The Lord, the God of the Old Testament, and Jesus Christ are considered by them to be mythological figures among many other mythological figures. Consistent with their view, the Old Testament prophets, apostles, and so on—if they actually existed—were just writing from their own human experiences and resources. For example, Isaiah (or a school of Isaiah prophecy) is given the credit for writing the words of the passages from Isaiah, just as Homer (or an anonymous set of poets) is given the credit for the Iliad and the Odyssey. All the writings in the Bible are considered, by those maintaining this point of view, to be a bit of “classic literature” written by brilliant or depraved or somewhere-in-between human beings sometime in the past and preserved to the present.


According to this academic conception, the words in the Bible only have value—if they have any—because they are part of a volume of literature that has had a huge influence in the world past and present. These warning words hold no significance to them, though they are addressed to them: Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight (Isaiah 5:21).


The contemporary perspective held by these “educators” or academics, based on their own “scholarship,” dismisses the possibility of the Lord, the God of the Old Testament, existing or being able to communicate with or through fallible human instruments here on earth with the Bible being one result. Their view is cemented because most of God’s communications were through people without modern academic or socially acceptable qualifications. This whole attitude in academia has the effect of causing a deep disdain among its adherents towards those who do believe God exists and is the Author of, or Inspiration behind, the Old and New Testaments; or those who hold to the fact that Jesus lived (see the paragraph below) and was who He said He was.

These ideologues would also rewrite history—which is also against a spirit of truth-seeking, wisdom, and actual learning. There has been a great deal of historical revisionism done in producing school textbooks to make sure history, science, and other subjects are seen through the proper “academic” or “scholarly” lens—their own bias. And, one way or another “academia” finds reasons to refuse to acknowledge or study Jesus as the historical figure He irrefutably was. Either that, or they demote Him, despite His own claims, to a “moral teacher” whose words we can take or leave at our own whim or discretion. The same Jesus for whom many extra-Biblical sources along with archeological findings provide evidence beyond reasonable doubt (evidence acceptable in a court of law) that He was a real person and that He died (was killed) and that it was widely reported He was a miracle worker and that He rose from the dead.


Pedantic academic views, apparently, help people feel absolved in their own minds from an honest examination of Jesus’ life, His claims, and His truly beneficial and lasting effect on humankind during and after His advent (coming to earth), death, and resurrection. The same Jesus, who not only reportedly healed disabled people completely, cast out demons, and raised people from the dead; but who also taught the truth that brings eternal life while claiming the power to deliver people from sin or injustice in themselves. Jesus who claimed—and many along with Him—He was the only true Teacher, the Christ, the Son of Man (a divine title), the Son of God, the I Am (the Lord, God, and Inspiration behind the Old Testament), and God’s One True Representative on earth.


If Jesus was and is who He said He was and is, His teachings were and are not only life-changing but also life-giving and restoring. He, through His teachings and power (authority with God), offers everyone, independent of person, place, or position in life, brings the ultimate in education—eternal life! Where is there a greater purpose of education?


The current intellectual view, for itself, completely neuters and declaws the Lion of Judah —which is one title for Jesus, the One whom the Lord, the God of the Old Testament promised would come to bring true and full justice to the earth. It eliminates, for itself, Jesus as Christ or Messiah (Anointed One), the all-wise (omniscient) prophet, priest, and king of God. It keeps Jesus and His words (through the Holy Spirit and the Bible) from having any real power or hold on them or from giving any real assurances to their living, eternal souls. It also nullifies, for them, God’s pictures and promises that Jesus (Savior) would come as the ultimate, perfect, eternal sacrificial Lamb. A Lamb who would give His flesh (body) and blood and die for our sins (personal injustices), in our place. (God takes injustice more seriously than we do and excludes no one.) It keeps all of God’s purposes, promises, and words, for them, from having authenticity or being realized in their own lives.


God, Himself, has said at various times and in myriad ways that holding onto one’s own ideologies in favor of independence from Him and His wisdom will bring one eternal “woe” divorced from all that brings “weal.” Completely ignoring or rejecting a historical figure of such import (Jesus Christ), whether one believes His claims and other’s reports or not, is not in the spirit of seeking wisdom or a true education, but it is following a spirit of willful ignorance. It appears again, there is something deeper and darker at work here.


Why are people so ready to create a mental barrier to possibilities that might affect the eternal weal or woe of their eternal souls? What is so insupportable to people about even the possibility that God or Jesus Christ might be real? This must come through a great bias that is adamantly held—in opposition to the spirit of wisdom and learning. It is a spirit that refuses to believe it could be wrong or imperfect before a perfectly just God, possibly because it also won’t accept that it needs and can receive His full mercy through Jesus.


Why would academia refuse the only true Teacher and Bringer of Life? Because they can. He doesn’t force His teachings on them. In fact, He made it so that His teachings appear foolish to them while they admire their own ever-changing “knowledge” to excess. The apostle Paul taught, “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Corinthians 3:18–19a). Jesus is a gentle, humble Teacher, who can only be truly heard or understood by those who are poor in spirit and humble in heart before God.


And [God] said to the human race,

“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,

and to shun evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28)


 

[1] An excerpt from the highly quotable 1987 film, The Princess Bride. Hall, Leah, Country Living, “Our 47 Favorite (And Hilarious) Princess Bride Quotes That Prove Its Cult Movie Status: The 1987 hit has messages about love, health, and life, published: Mar. 26, 2022, accessed 6/23/2023, https://www.countryliving.com/life/entertainment/a39288479/princess-bride-quotes/ [2] In case you want to learn more, see the following article and the references accompanying it: Wikipedia, “National Education Association,” accessed 6/8/2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Education_Association [3] Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, “tenure,” accessed 6/6/2023, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenure [4] See the introductory chapter entitled, “Weal or Woe?” which defines these words and begins a discussion in relation to various topics or issues: https://www.wordsintime.net/post/weal-or-woe-an-introduction [5] Sloan, Willona M., ASCD, “What Is the Purpose of Education,” July 1, 2012, Vol. 54, No. 7, accessed 2/22/2023, https://www.ascd.org/el/articles/what-is-the-purpose-of-education [6] Walker, Tim, What’s the Purpose of Education? Public Doesn’t Agree on the Answer, NEA News, neaToday, published: 8/29/2016, accessed 2/22/2023, https://www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/new-from-nea/whats-purpose-education-public-doesnt-agree-answer [7] To see my blogs in this series on Darwinian “science” and on Marxist-based “social justice,” see: https://www.wordsintime.net/blogs/categories/considering-issues [8] See the headings on the National Education Association’s (NEA’s) website (accessed 6/6/2023): https://www.nea.org/ [9] 16.1 A Brief History of Education in the United States, Sociology, M LIBRARIES, University of Minnesota, accessed 2/22/2023, https://open.lib.umn.edu/sociology/chapter/16-1-a-brief-history-of-education-in-the-united-states/ [10] King, Martin Luther, Jr., “The Purpose of Education,” Dr. King, Morehouse College Student Paper, published in the campus newspaper: “The Maroon Tiger,” January–February 1947, Atlanta, Ga., accessed 2/22/2023, https://www.drmartinlutherkingjr.com/drking/the-purpose-of-education/; (see also: http://okra.stanford.edu/transcription/document_images/Vol01Scans/123_Jan-Feb1947_The%20Purpose%20of%20Education.pdf .)

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