Archive for February, 2011

Written on Feb. 23:

We have some tough issues in education right now, and as a conservative, Christian, union member, Tea Party member, public school teacher, I find myself torn on many of the issues.  But what makes me really angry is that it doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to sit down and have an honest, adult conversation about it.  Instead, it seems like everyone just wants to throw fits and use dirty tactics to get whatever they want.  For example, the teachers in Milwaukee who got the fake doctor statements so that they could miss work and protest, forcing schools to close and, as Megyn Kelly points out, forcing parents to pay extra in childcare because school wasn’t in session.  Watch it here.

Then there are the Democrats who skipped work and left Wisconsin to go to Illinois to avoid voting on these issues.  And if that’s not bad enough, the Indiana Democrats have decided to join them in Illinois.  Grow up, people! 

There are different teacher union rallies taking place each day throughout the state, and there’s a big one planned for the state house on March 5.  And now the Tea Party is planning a rally for the state house tomorrow, demanding that Democrats get back to work.  I feel like the last thing we need is more rallies, but what choice does the Tea Party have at this point?  And here I find myself torn right down the middle.  I think a lot of the legislation itself is just ridiculous.  I can see and understand both sides of the argument, but I feel like most of the proposed “solutions” are the wrong solutions.   It’s like this: I feel like Republicans are trying really hard to solve some real problems, but the ideas they’re coming up with are not the best ideas (I’ll talk more on this in a later post).  They sound really great in theory but will fail horribly in practice.  That’s why our law-makers need to go to work, sit down together, listen to each other and the people they represent, take their time, and settle this like adults—with open minds and no interruptions.  That’s the only way anything is going to get accomplished. 

As for the unions, the issue is this, plain and simple:  the unions have way too much power that they abuse, and they’re out of control.  And I can’t wait until I get the chance to drop my membership.  I’m getting out, and I plan to take with me as many as I can.  With that said, Republicans need to listen to school teachers, get out in the schools, do some real qualitative (not quantitative) research, and decide how to really solve the problems, and I can tell you right now that the solutions are not going to come in the form of standardized tests or evaluating teachers based on student scores.  Anyone who steps into a public school for any length of time will see how ludicrous that is.

There’s an interesting blog post I came across that sums things up pretty well. 

If schools are data-driven, they might make decisions like keeping students who are “borderline” between algebra and a higher-level of math in algebra so that they do well in the algebra state test. Or, in English, teachers might focus a lot of energy on teaching a “strand” that is heavy on the tests — even though it might not help the student become a life-long reader. In other words, the school can tend to focus on its institutional self-interest instead of what’s best for the students.

In schools that are data-informed, test results are just one more piece of information that can be helpful in determining future directions.

I’ve actually witnessed this firsthand and, one of these days if I get the time, will explain.


Of Christians and Politics cont.

In my previous post, I mentioned that I’ve been reading Gregory A. Boyd’s book The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is destroying the Church. There is one passage in the book that really got me thinking:

Why do we not place more trust in the power of prayer to affect the world? One primary reason, I think, is our national myth. Because we think our nation is “basically Christian,” we tend to trust Caesar’s “basically Christian” power more than Christ’s. We therefore allow ourselves to be sucked into the “power over” game of politics, thinking that if only we can pass certain laws and enact certain policies, the Christian status of our nation will be improved. While we, of course, tip our hat to the need for prayer, our actions belie the fact that we generally (there are marvelous exceptions!) place more confidence in our individual and corporate political activity than we do in the power of prayer…It’s not the power of your vote—every citizen in a democratic country has this; it’s the power of your kingdom heart expressed on your knees in loving service to the world (119).

Wow! What a profound statement! I absolutely agree with Boyd on this point. While I do believe that we should be politically aware and involved—after all, there are those who, if they have their way, will silence all Christians—we must not forget where the real power of the people lies—in our one-on-one communication with God. We have direct contact to the ruler of the entire universe. Talk about having influence and connections! Let’s use it!

Of Christians and Politics

As a Christian, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the role I play as an American citizen.  Some of my previous posts show evidence of this.  I recently picked up a book at the library by Gregory A. Boyd called The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church.  One of Boyd’s main points is that associating Christianity with America is dangerous because of all the non-Christian actions America has taken in the past.  Point taken, but I don’t necessarily think that means that Christians should be silent about what’s going on in our country—and by our country, I mean the country in which we live.  Considering Boyd’s views, as well as others’, I’ve been examining my own thoughts and forming my own conclusions on the issue.   When a friend recently invited me to hear him speak on this very issue, I decided it was time to share my thoughts.  Here’s what I’ve concluded:

 It seems to me that the word politics has two different meanings: 1) the first is used to refer to governmental matters or offices and 2) the second refers to deal-making, special interests, self-interest or gain, etc.  The first has a neutral connotation, while the second one obviously has a negative connotation.  Because of the second meaning, many people, especially Christians, have come to fear the word in general.  The second seems evil, and therefore Christians don’t want to dabble in it.  Too many Christians are reluctant to be #1 politicians because they fear #2 politics or from fear of being co-opted into #2 politicians.  They’re also afraid of even following politics and voting because of the negative connotation that has been given to the term as a result of the #2 definition.  But it is because of the #2 politics that Christians need to get involved—as both government officials and active citizens.  Here’s the reason why.  Number 2 types are what corrupts the government, and the more deal making and whatnot that takes place, the bigger and more out of control government gets because it becomes an idol to these people.  In serving their own self-interests and political careers, they actually serve and become slaves to the government (spiritually).  At the same time, the common people are affected and become slaves physically/financially. 

 The government begins to get so out of control that it then has to drive God out of the picture in order to continue to function as a god itself because man cannot serve two gods, and if he’s serving the one true God, the government god will be limited.  So, God has to go.  As it becomes more and more powerful, the government god starts taking on the responsibilities of the one true God and starts dealing out rights to people and deciding who lives and dies, etc.  But then it goes even further and starts making everyday decisions for us to the point that we have no decisions left to make for ourselves.  The government would have us become robots.  This is against everything the true God stands for because he created us in his image as free-thinking beings capable of making our own decisions and governing ourselves.  That’s what makes a relationship with God so special—the fact that we choose him. 

 I read a couple of books not too long ago by husband and wife writing duo John and Stacy Eldredge called Captivating and Wild at Heart.  Captivating is all about how women are made in God’s image and what characteristics we inherited from Him..  Wild at Heart is about men.  Captivating explains how a woman wants to be sought after and fought for because God wants to be sought after and fought for by His people.  He doesn’t want us to be robots.  He wants us to be free to choose him; that’s why he made us to be free.  And a government that goes against that is a government against God.  God also wants us to fight for Him—meaning he wants us to do everything we can to guard and protect our relationship with Him.  And that means getting involved and peacefully doing what’s necessary to take our nation back for God—not so that we can establish a Christian nation or force religion on people (that would also go against God’s intentions), but so that we can remain free to love him if we so choose and, at the very least, be free to be what we were created to be.  And that’s not a slave to some false god of government.  Perhaps a better phrase would be to take our nation back for the people—for God.  So Christians need to realize that #1 political involvement does not mean that you dabble in #2 politics; on the contrary, it means that you keep #2 politics at bay for the freedom to live free lives and for the freedom to advance God’s kingdom, which is what all Christians are called to do.