By Gary C. Young
In my years in teaching and as a parent, I have noticed the gradual and continuous decline of values and behavior in our public schools.
One can discuss many causes for this decline in behavior. However, by reflecting upon the past when our schools were the envy of the world and the model for excellence in education and civility, several events are clearly related to eroding behavior in our schools.
1) These among the Ten Commandments were listed and stressed in our schools:
l Honor thy father and thy mother. Would children be prone to attack their parents if this was stressed in the schools as it once was?
l Thou shalt not kill. Would the young boy have killed the students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut if he had at least some concept of “thou shalt not kill?”
l Thou shalt not steal. Would students be less inclined to steal from others if our schools stressed the Ten Commandments?
l Thou shalt not bear false witness. Would students be more honest if our schools stressed the importance of telling the truth?
l Thou shalt not covet. Would students strive to accomplish great things rather than be envious of other’s accomplishments?
2) Life has been cheapened by mothers killing their children by abortion, more than a million per year in the United States. Wordsmiths cleverly use the label “pro-choice.” Really, hasn’t abortion been used more often as a means of birth control, and consequent killing of a baby cheapens life throughout our society? Killing is killing regardless of the clever use of words.
3) Why do administrators/bureaucrats continue to promote “zero tolerance” rules for student behavior? Although well-intentioned, administrators seem to suggest their voluminous “zero tolerance” rules with additional curative approaches, like metal detectors and arming teachers with guns, are solutions. Why not have simple rules like the “Ten Commandments” stressed at school, home and at church like in the past? It has worked before; why not now? It is no wonder that more schoolchildren have no clear sense for established rules of behavior.
We have changed the rules of behavior for our children over the years and we are now getting the disastrous results. Why not get back to the days when communities stressed the sanctity of life?
Let us be unmistakably clear to our children what is expected of them.
Gary C. Young, a chemical engineer/consultant from Cedar Rapids, was an undergraduate and graduate teaching assistant at the University of Nebraska for nine years. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org