Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Case for Public Schooling...

My daughters’ mother is “saved”. She received Christian schooling as a youth and even attended a Christian college. She now insists that my children follow in her footsteps. The idea of this horrifies me on many levels. I downloaded a copy of the Student Handbook to see if my fears were justified. Let’s see what I found:

The handbook starts out with the schools “Philosophy Of Education”:

Christian education directs the student toward a life goal of walking humbly before God. Students are challenged to fulfill his will by performing that which is good, acceptable and perfect. Only Christ-centered education gives true wisdom and understanding. At Delaware Christian School, the Bible is considered the inerrant Word of God and is integrated into every subject. Our faculty prepares students for more than academics. DCS students are taught character qualities and morals that will equip them to meet the challenges they will face in the world and influence others for Christ

Not a very good start. Where is the education part of this philosophy? I don’t see my children passing standardized tests, being accepted to college, or gaining employment based solely on “character qualities” and “morals”. Exactly which definitions of education, academics, and even school are they referring to?

The handbook then goes on to a rather lengthy Statement of Faith which includes this interesting tidbit (remember, they’re teaching this to children):

5. The Total Depravity of Man
We believe that the man was created in the image and likeness of God, but that in Adam’s sin the race fell, inherited a sinful nature, and became alienated from God; and, that man is totally depraved, and of himself utterly unable to remedy his lost condition.

That’s it – make them feel good about themselves. And this:

c. We believe that the souls of unbelievers remain, after death, in conscious misery until the second resurrection, when with soul and body are reunited they shall appear at the Great White Throne Judgment and shall be case into the Lake of Fire, not to be annihilated, but to suffer everlasting conscious punishment.

So now my children know that Daddy is going to hell, and the seed of fear has been planted to ensure they never think rationally, critically, or on their own. Great. Aside from the fact that this is pure gobbledygook, and nothing a child should be exposed to, notice the grammatically incorrect presentation. From an institution of “education” (typo or not, this is not good).

We are then fed more statements of faith, but this time they’re called by names like “purpose” and yet another “Philosophy” which includes this very telling gem:

We believe that God's purpose in the creation of man was to glorify Himself.

What an egotistical bastard.

We then move on to objectives. Oh, boy…

1. h. To stress individual responsibility of Christians for world missions.

History tells us how successful a venture this is. Those damn heathen savages. Good thing God’s watching over our brave soldiers while they slaughter them. Once we’ve forced our personal choice of government and economy on them, we can shove our religion down their throats too!

1. j. To promote good citizenship through developing and understanding an appreciation of our Christian and American heritage of freedom and human dignity.

Christianity and America have a heritage of freedom and human dignity? Oh, that explains the Inquisition, Crusades, pogroms, genocides, misogyny, slavery, immense stockpile of nuclear arms, and Patriot Act, among countless other fine examples.

2. b. To foster wholesome personal relationships through development of social skills based on the Christian concept of love.

Is that the same Christian love that tells us to hate our father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters (Luke 14:26)?

2. c. To teach a realistic and Biblical view of life and work and provide skills for future endeavors in college and an occupation.

Aren’t the “realistic” and “Biblical” views of life completely contradictory? Nevertheless, a view of life populated with white, conservative, upper middle class Christians is hardly a realistic view of the world. My main issue with this statement is that it is the first with any mention whatsoever about skills, college, or occupation – and it is a full 22 lines of text into the schools objectives.

Ten lines later we finally arrive at the schools academic endeavors, which include:

3. b. To develop creative and critical thinking and the proper use of Biblical criteria for evaluation.

At the mention of “critical thinking”, my fear momentarily subsides and I crack a rib laughing. The humor is short lived, and the fear quickly returns:

3. d. To teach the basic concepts of scientific investigation and to show that all scientific facts are in agreement with God's Word.

(I’d say very basic.) Ah, yes, the flat Earth, geocentric universe, miscalculated pi, bat-birds, cud-chewing rabbits, and creation debacle of “God’s Word” are indeed scientific facts. Biblical anatomy, with its thinking based in the heart (never mentions the brain – SURPRISE!) and emotions based in the kidneys, was also centuries ahead of its time.

To my relief, I see that the school is accredited:

Grades K-12 are chartered by the Ohio Board of Education.

But after a second thought, that relief turns into bitter disappointment: obviously, standards for accreditation aren’t exactly set very high.

Further on we get into discipline. Surprisingly, they have left the Biblical standards and the children aren’t going to be put to death if they are unruly and disobedient (Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 20:9). This is good. They do, predictably, incorporate corporal punishment. I adamantly believe in discipline, received numerous spankings in school, and see no problem with this. But what exactly does this discipline entail?

(3) Teachers will be certain that the student understands what he has done is wrong and why it is sin.
(4) Teachers will pray with the student and help him understand God's forgiveness and the teacher's forgiveness.

Not only did you piss off the teacher, but God’s pretty damned upset with you too, little Timmy. Dirty sinner.

In case you’re wondering what kind of offenses are serious enough to warrant paddling:

b. Irreverence
k. Failure to fit into the spirit of the school
l. Immorality or compromising activity and pregnancy
m. Any action which may tarnish the student's testimony for Christ.

These are rather vague. For context, tobacco, drugs, and alcohol were h, i, and j, and possession of weapons is n. But the extremely subjective and broad-sweeping category of “irreverence” made number two on the list. Better to tote a pistol and pocket full of crack rocks to school in a drunken stupor than be “irreverent”.

Looking for more emphasis on actual education, I look to the section entitled “High School Graduation Requirements”:

3 units of Math
2 units of Science
4 units of English
3 units of Social Studies
4 units of Bible

Clearly, Bible is extremely important, especially when compared to something as inconsequential to academic achievement as science. Though, I guess it would be rather hard to teach a Biblically-correct science class for more than two years, since its pretty much all contained in the first two chapters of Genesis. I personally want to see the text book diagrams of God opening up the windows in the “firmament” so it can rain.

By now I see that the quality of my children’s education is pretty much on par with, oh, I don’t know – obedience school for dogs. Add to it an extremely limited representation of social diversity, a promise of naivety, and a thorough mind-fucking misanthropic guilt trip complete with promises of everlasting torture in a fiery pit, and a pretty clear picture is forming.

Yeah, horror was an appropriate response.

It gets even more interesting. In the section describing Health Policies, we see this rather vague entry:

The Delaware Christian School has adopted a policy on aids based largely on the guidelines and recommendations of the Association of Christian Schools International. A copy of this policy may be attained by contacting the school office.

I wonder exactly what that policy is, and why they don’t just come out and say it.

A bit of humor follows in the Communicable Diseases section:

2. A student may be exempted from immunization upon the presentation of the written religious or moral objection of his parent or guardian…
3. A child will be excluded from school if the principal suspects the child has a communicable or nuisance disease...

Don’t rely on modern medicine to keep your child healthy when all you really have to do is pray, but also don’t expect your kid to be welcome in school in the event s/he does get sick.

Last but not least, we come to the school dress code. As expected, the school enforces uniforms. I’m on the fence with this one. It is much cheaper for me (or it would be thought until one sees the cost of school uniforms), and it removes one of the more obvious signs of class, and thus indicators for potential harassment, but it takes away some personal identity, more firmly cementing the perception of school as a factory of conformity. Whether yay or nay, I am both entertained and uncomfortable with this statement:

The purpose of requiring girls of all ages to wear skirts is to instill in young ladies an appreciation of their femininity and their unique role in God's plan for society.

As long as it isn’t the Principal’s “appreciation” of their femininity.

This is a nightmare. To add to the mess, their mother is requesting more child support to help cover tuition. I have seriously considered seeking legal resolve for this issue, but, besides being broke, I don’t see many courts, much less one in a blue state, siding with an atheist father (race traitor at that).

I constantly remind them to think for themselves though. During Columbus Day and Thanksgiving celebrations, my daughters spoke out in class about the European treatment of the indigenous Americans. The teacher insisted they were mistaken (she also told her students that their parents should vote for Bush because Kerry isn’t a Christian), which shows the strong ethical standards the school screens for in its hiring process.

I suppose it won’t be too long before they make me exceedingly proud and raise a little hell in “science class”.


Tanooki Joe said...

I can't imagine how frustrating that must be.

addict_no_more said...

This would be amusing, except we're talking about children, and that makes it horrifying, terrifying and probably at least six other types of fying. I'm sorry that your daughters have been placed in such a school.

At twelve, I moved to an area on the wrong side of a main avenue, and the result was go to a school where I'd get beaten up, or go to a Christian school that had only opened in the last few years. I made the obvious choice. I was a willing participant in Christianity's bullshit in those days - in fact, I was the only regular church-going member of my family.

The school was a cult. The classes were grouped together, so though I was in sixth grade, I was mixed in with fifth graders. That, of course, meant I wasn't learning at the appropriate level. To make matters worse, as is the case at your daughters' school, most of the classes were tailored towards bogus Christian beliefs.

However, they weren't permitted to "paddle" us, which is a good thing. After two months there, I was suspended for playing "fortune telling" games (there were some rather naughty words in them on top of it). That week away from the school altered my perspective greatly. Though a staged exorcism (a long story I've mentioned elsewhere) made me waiver briefly, I maintained my distance and decided to transfer to a different school (by then we'd moved to the "right" side of town) after the Christmas break.

I know this comment is long, but I'm trying to do two things... first, to convey that even going to an awful school like this, your daughters may grow up to become rational, thinking beings and not just Christian robots. There's hope, and having an atheist for a father will hopefully encourage their thinking for themselves.

Also, I encourage you to seek free legal counsel. I'm not sure what's available in Ohio, but in NJ and NY there's Legal Aid, and there are options. I realize you are in a state where fighting this will be tough, but I really feel strongly that you should NOT have to pay for this.

Frankly, I don't think the courts should force any parent to pay tuition on a private school when there are perfectly good public schools available as an option. Those are funded by tax dollars, and their mother should either suck it up and pay for their BS education herself, or send them to a private school.

You should NOT have to pay for something that you a) don't believe in, and b) are worried will stunt their educational and social growth to the point that they won't be able to function in "real" life. I'm not saying the battle would be an easy one, but I think it's absolutely a worthy one. Those four months in a cult-like Christian school taught me just how scary it is on the inside, now that I can look back with perspective.

Good luck... it's an unenviable situation at best.

The Un-Apologetic Atheist said...

You have to fight this-- talk to an ACLU lawyer, anything. Being required to furnish the funds for a specifically fundamentalist religious education you do NOT want your daughter undergoing is a pretty arguable violation of your rights as a parent. At least try to fight it so she goes to a school that is not quite so overtly teaching children anti-science superstition and prejudice.

Also, as someone who does a lot of work with AIDS patients, I'd be very very very curious to see that AIDS policy-- could you get that and email it to me? I'd appreciate it if so.

Aaron Kinney said...

Wow DUB, that sucks.

I guess it depends on how much parental rights you have. Assuming you have some parental rights, you are the dad, so Im sure you can present a well argued case for putting your child in public school instead.

Supposing that you cant stop your baby's momma from sending your child to this school, then you can do the next best thing. De-brainwash the child with each visit you have. Ask them about school and what they learned, then tell your child how evil the Biblical God is for all the things he did, why you childs school is full of bullshit, and why original sin is a monstrous joke, etc...

However, that option will hae your child going against the grain of the school community. The child will become an outcast or outsider.

Either have your child become a Christoid zombie-bot, or have the child become an outsider with comflicting information coming in from two different sides.

Or maybe you could visit the school and talk to the principal about the brochure you criticized in this blog? Maybe ask them why they think teaching these things to your child is good?

Your best bet is to get her to go to a public school instead though. Youre gonna have to fight that front first. Maybe try to talk sense into the mother? Its worth a shot.

Seriously though, you owe it to your CHILD, to YOURSELF, and to HUMANITY to do everything you can to prevent this child from going to that, or ANY, Christian school. Dont let another Christbot get created! You have to protect your flesh and blood from these kinds of things. Please do something DUB!

Kansas Heretic said...

I really can't imagine your ex's request for money to pay private school tuition would hold up in court. That would be considered a "luxury", which should come out of the pocket of the parent who wants it provided to the kids.

LBBP said...

I agree with the prevailing wind of comments here. Try to seek free legal consul. Though you may not want to push too hard to keep them out entirely. That could lead to increased animosity between you and their mother. It's a tough tight rope act, you don't want to support her actions but a war between you and her is bound to confuse the children and make them pick sides. You have to be able to stay active in their life if you want to counteract the negative effects of being raised by a fundamentalist.

No matter what, I don't think you should have to pay for this. I did a quick search (Google: "private school" divorce Ohio) and found this excerpt:

"The parties' decree does not obligate the parties to keep their children in private school and, as a result, Mr. Bokeno is not legally obligated to pay the tuition. However, it is also clear from this Magistrate's decision of September 5, 2000 that Ms. Bokeno does not want the children to attend the public school near her residence and the parties agree that they should attend St. Peter in Chains. Therefore, so long as the parties continue to agree that the children should remain in private school, I find that the tuition cost should be equitably factored into the child support calculation. Mr. Bokeno shall be responsible for the actual payment of the tuition."

In this case the judge is saying that only because both parents agree with sending their kid to private school is the father responsible.

The Un-Apologetic Atheist said...

I cited you in my blog. Hopefully the word will go to someone who can help you. Some very smart people read my blog. Good luck either way.

Dan said...

That's horrible. My little sister and one of my little brothers both went to a Christian school at one time (multiple of them). My mother's a born-again fundie and she thought they deserved a good healthy Christian education.

Luckily, my brother (now 17) skipped a grade in their very sub-par education system and went to a public school for high school where he was quickly normalized. I know he's at least an agnostic now, and I know he still maintains the ability to think critically - even though he is a little too trusting of the old bag sometimes.

My little sister is the one I'm worried about (she's now 11). She spent the first 6 years of her education in a number of bullshit Christian schools and is only now going into a public school for junior high (grade 7 here). It's an all-girls school - obviously my mother is trying to keep her from the real world as long as possible.

I don't agree, and I fear my little sister will grow up without knowing how the world really works. Luckily she idolizes me - perhaps even enough that I can free her to the point where she can think for herself.

That all being said, do whatever you possibly can to keep your daughters from being sent to this centre of brainwashing. At the very least you can fight in on a financial standpoint, but I'm hoping you have more court rights than that and you can make a case against the religion part of it as well.

tigerlilly said...

I am at a loss for words. Seriously, try to speak with someone at a law school. Lots of folks do pro bono work, and your case is interesting (if not scary).

Oh, that whole girl skirt wearing feminine thing is bull. Jesus did not wear pants. You know skirts just give easy access.

And this:
"(3) Teachers will be certain that the student understands what he has done is wrong and why it is sin.
(4) Teachers will pray with the student and help him understand God's forgiveness and the teacher's forgiveness."

Can't kids just be kids??? Why does everything have to be a sin? God isn't that uptight.

Personally, I wouldn't want anyone praying with my child but me. not even another family member.

My two younger sisters went to Catholic school for K-12. They both had babies before 20. I went to one of the worst in New Orleans, and am now 30 with no kids and the only one with a degree. Private school does not make you into a better/moral person...

Patrick Brentlinger said...

I would say that the ignorance of their own faith is shocking, but it really isn't anymore. It's simply sad. You should of course fight tooth an nail against this, it just isn't right or just for you to pay for such a thing. I'm sorry that this is happening to you.

gypsy said...

This is sickening. I used to work at a Catholic school until recently my liberalness and atheism got in the way (go figure) -- but my school was nothing like this one.

My advice: contact Legal Aid, or a local University with a legal services for students office. I doubt either will be able to help you, but they will know who will.

Also, I'd suggest suing for primary custody on grounds of mental cruelty or something like that.

Anonymous said...

I went to a Christian school for grades 1-12 and am now at a Christian university (in the middle of Republican Indiana no less!) but I turned out just fine. :) I didn't live in the U.S. before I came to college so can't give any advice on the legal ways of fighting this, but I do know that your influence as a father is probably the best thing your girls have right now. If you're teaching them to think critically and not believe things just because someone else says so, they will probably naturally stay away from a Christian mindset. I hope you get them out of there, but as someone who has gone through Christian school and will continue to for the next year and a half (I enjoy being the only atheist at school although it does encourage me to see the school shrink a lot more!), trust me, they are probably a lot closer to thinking on their own than any of their classmates.

I can understand your fears though. My little sister still goes to my old Christian school. Her best friend's father is a Muslim and every day at the required chapel she ends up crying because her father's going to hell, so they say. That's why I didn't tell my sister for a while that I wasn't a Christian. Luckily, she's not THAT conservative yet so I'm not causing her any mental anguish.

Yeah, Christian schools suck, but you as an involved and caring father can counterbalance that. Your kids have a bigger head start away from religion than I ever had.

Jacquie (I used to have a blog but took it down and am going to start a new - better - one but haven't gotten around to it yet. Thus the anonymous. :))

DUB said...

This response is unbelievable. I thank you all.

First, I have twin daughters. They are in the second grade.

I'm on the waiting list for Legal Aid. I have been for almost six months (estimated wait of eight months).

I seriously doubt that child support can be raised specifically for tuition. She's smarter than that, and she'll petition for an increase for other reasons. She will probably be shooting herself in the foot if she does, because she makes quite a bit more than she claimed when support was set up. I didn't complain at that time (five years ago), but I will definitely bring it up now.

Whether my money is used to pay for it or not, I just flat out don't want them going. My biggest question is if I can have a say in this. I have essentially no rights. I am ordered to pay child support, but don't even have legally guaranteed visitation. It's a long story, but I'll let you know that laws regarding child support/visitation/custody are very, very bad for fathers.

Once again, I thank all of you. See, atheists are for the kids. We're not trying to scacrifice them in some strange ritual.

The Un-Apologetic Atheist said...

No, we only spare them so we can eat them in ritual sacrifices to come later.

Patrick Brentlinger said...

I just realized that this is also a case for home schooling considering your obviously strong desire for them to learn. I am friends with an atheist who home schools, his kids are very bright and increadibly fun to interact with. Not that you want to do that but it sure beats this private school.

Aaron Kinney said...

Well DUB you have to let us know how it goes.

Is there any remote chance that you can talk to their mom and convince her to let them go to a non-religious school? Or is that wishful thinking?

Why not show her that recent study that shows that religion is bad for society? I posted about it at Kill The Afterlife.

Shinsyotta said...

Hey DUB. Have you tried looking at some of the sources for grants listed by Matthew Lesko in his books? There are tons of grants available from the government, charities & non-profits, etc.
All the best,

Aaron Kinney said...

AHHH I need more DUBbage! Everyone chant with me: More posts! More posts! More posts!

Im such a hypocrite. I can barely manage to post once a week at my own blog.

Tanooki Joe said...

More posts! More posts!

I hope DUB is just caught up with his new job and all.

DUB said...

TY Tanooki and AK.

Actually...I quit the factory job and moved to Columbus - a much larger city with loads more opportunity for growth.

Once I am settled (and have my computer and internet access), I will be back to blogging.

franky said...

That's good to hear Dub. Can't wait till you are back blogging again.

Dani said...

See, I don't know what I want to do with my kids. I definitely don't want to send them to Christian school. My mom went to Catholic school all of her life, and my father was a Baptist. Neither of them forced religion on me. My mom says things, like, "let go and let God" when I fell like I can't handle things any longer. But that's about all she said. She says her rosaries everyday and goes to church before work. I never knew this until I saw her do it one day. I found her car in a church parking lot, and I overheard her saying her rosaries one day. She wasn't hiding it from me, she just said she wanted me to decide who I wanted to be and what I wanted to believe. That's why I don't like Religion based schools. It bothers me when parents force a certain religion on a child to the point where they have to eat sleep and speak it. It's one thing to have to go to church on Sun, but to listen to this stuff EVERYDAY!!!

Every weekend I went to my Muslim Aunt's house, and hung out with her 7 kids. I had a blast embracing their religion and doing things with them. My sister was a Jehova's witness. I loved being exposed to how people are different and their beliefs are different, but that doesn't make them wrong.

I plan on homeschooling my kids. When they are ready to go to public school, I'll send them. I want them to get the best of both worlds. I don't want them to think they have to learn what the teachers feel is what they should learn. I want my kids to have open minds and learn what is most important to them. If they want to spend the extra time that they'd spend in study hall in a public school, learning about politics or the weather, I'm not going to stop them. I don't want some school system telling me that I can't take a 3 week vacation road trip because that have school. I want the trip to be school. Maybe they'd rather travel the world for 3 weeks opposed to being told when to go from one room to the other, when to eat, when to study, when to read.

I don't know, it's just hard. I know it's harder for you, because their mom and you don't have the same beliefs, and I don't think it's fare to children to have no say at all. I know they are kids and parents want what's best for them, but it's surprising how much a child actually DOES know what's best for them.

Good luck! I miss these girls so much!!!!!