By David Hegg
I read with interest two recent Signal articles. The first reported that English proficiency in our district was above the state standard while student math and science scores were below the standards. And, keep in mind, the standards have been lowered over time.
The second article spoke to the reality of declining enrollment in our local schools. This is particularly alarming given private schools in our area are bulging at the seams and have waiting lists. And the number of families choosing homeschooling is on the rise.
But it causes me to wonder what declining enrollment numbers in the public school system signify given that new home construction is on the rise and our valley’s population seems to be increasing. I’m not ruling out the possibility that there are several reasons for declining academic efficiency and enrollment, but one strong possibility is a prevalent culprit known as “missional drift.”
Missional drift occurs when, over time, incremental influences combine to move an organization away from its original mission. And, because it happens slowly, usually through leadership decisions, new emphases, and the introduction of a competing ideology, the true effect is often not recognized until it is too late.
I believe there is every reason to think public school education has drifted away from its original mission and become an entity that parents no longer trust to educate their children. It is quite probable that, while there are other factors in play, many in our valley no longer trust public education.
Before going further, I must stress that in our local schools there are many great teachers and administrators who are valiantly trying to remain “mission focused.” However, many of them are tired of struggling against the cumulative compromises of a progressive ideology that have significantly changed the ethos of local, public education.
Why is that? Simply because public education has drifted away from its primary mission of teaching and training students academically.
Today, public schools are seen by those promoting a “woke” ideology as fertile fields into which they can sow the seeds of diversity, equity and inclusion without parental interference.
However, more and more parents are “waking” up to the reality that the governing powers behind public education now see our kids as belonging more to the state than to the home. Kids leave the classroom fully indoctrinated into the progressive narrative but can’t write a usable topic sentence. They may know all the reasons for Pride month, but they can’t speak knowledgeably about the U.S. Constitution.
So, here’s my plea to those in our valley who are responsible for our public schools. Get back on mission. Be courageous enough to buck the progressive ethos that ties the hands of our teachers, overrides parental authority and turns out students who may know all about progressive social causes but have no idea how to write topic sentences let alone coherent essays. It sure looks like Edwin Newman, in his 2010 book “Strictly Speaking,” was prescient when he asked, “Will America be the death of English?”
If things don’t change, we’ll have to answer a resounding “yes.”
We need our educators to prioritize academic excellence over cultural relevance and refuse to compromise the educational process to placate those who see our kids as pawns in their social movements.
Lastly, if my thinking that many are abandoning public education for the academic prowess of expensive public schooling is correct, we may be witnessing the genesis of another horrible division between those who can afford private education and those who cannot. Frankly, gaining a good education should not be a matter of finances.
Public education can and must instill the academic foundation it was always meant to provide. But to do so, our public educational system must get back on mission. To be sure, regaining lost ground will be difficult, but anything worth doing demands focus, courage and that perseverance called grit. Those unwilling to fight for our kids should start writing their resignation letters. After all, this is, and ought to be, all about providing our kids with the academic experience they deserve.
Ethically speaking, it’s the right thing to do.
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.