The Miseducation of America's Youth
Dr. Bill Bennett’s resume is full of incredible experiences — but it’s not everyone who gets confirmed to a department your boss has openly tried to abolish. That was the unique situation Bill found himself in when Ronald Reagan picked him as America’s secretary of education. The 40th president believed control over schools should be returned to our states and local communities. Reagan never got his wish, but what he did get was an agency transformed by a man who believed in unlocking students’ potential. Thirty-five years later, it’s a cause the beloved author — one of the most important cultural voices of our time — is still championing.
After a lifetime in education, it’s hard not to take the latest news on test scores personally. And Dr. Bennett, like so many people who’ve devoted their careers to learning, is no different. The headlines about America’s reading and math levels are, as current Secretary Betsy DeVos agreed, devastating. “Two out of three of our nation’s children aren’t proficient readers. In fact, fourth grade reading declined in 17 states and eighth grade reading declined in 31. The gap between the highest and lowest performing students is widening, despite $1 trillion in federal spending over 40 years designated specifically to help close it.”
What’s happening in America? Thursday, Dr. Bennett joined me on “Washington Watch” to give his take on where the country has gone wrong — and what parents and communities can do to fix it. There are a lot of problems facing this country, Bill agreed, but “in the long run, the failure of our students to be able to think, to read, to count is potentially catastrophic.” “We’re going backwards 10 years, even 20 years,” he said soberly. And that matters especially to kids where education is their only lifeline. In homes where the family doesn’t value education or parents don’t read to their kids or do homework with them, he explained, “school can be the difference.” But unfortunately, Bill pointed out, those are also the schools that are failing America the most.“
And it’s not just reading and math scores that are taking the hit. "We do worse in American history than we do in even those two. It’s our worst subject. Our students do not know who they are as Americans.” If there is history being taught, he explained, “it’s left-wing, tendentious, and politically correct. It’s a terrible situation,” he lamented. And it’s one of the reasons he keeps writing books. His latest, an updated version of America: The Last Best Hope, is what he calls “the real history of the United States.” “This country is the greatest political story ever told,” Bill said. “We are uniquely blessed and we have taken unique advantage of those blessings. And although it’s the greatest political story ever told, our children have not been told that story.”
And the evidence of that is everywhere — from polls showing an uptick in pro-socialist millennials to the lack of patriotism plaguing our culture. “If they do not know what they came from, what their legacy is, what their inheritance is, how will they support or defend it? Well, of course, they’re going to follow the temptations of socialism and big government… We did it right,” Bill points out. “We avoided the siren calls of communism — although this generation is buying into it [out of ignorance]. And, you know, if this is not an emergency — an intellectual, moral, and political emergency — I don’t know what is.”
That emergency, Dr. Bennett says, is one of the reasons he’s spent 40 years pounding the podium for school choice in education. “[You must have] the ability to educate your child the way you want.” Without it, entire generations are at risk of never learning anything but far-Left propaganda. While America is wasting its time on gender-neutral pronouns and sex ed and revisionist history, “What do we think China’s doing?” Bill asked. “While we’re fooling around with this stuff? They’re teaching the [important] things.”
Obviously, that’s part of the underlying problem here. American schools are spending so much time and energy on this parallel universe of make-believe that they’re not teaching the fundamentals that will help children. And the tragedy of that is it not only affects us as a nation, but also these disadvantaged children whose futures depend on having the building blocks of an education. They’re being denied that because our focus is elsewhere.
“We’re hurting them,” Bill agreed, which is another irony of liberalism. The same Left who says it has “so much sympathy and empathy for the poor are putting them in schools [that do them a disservice].” If you want kids to be lifted up, Dr. Bennett insisted, education is a great equalizer. “And we know how to do it, but we refuse to, because we bow down before political correctness, instead of doing what we know should be done and what will be successful.”
Make sure the kids in your life understand the incredible blessing it is to be Americans. Pick up a copy of Bill’s updated version of America: The Last Best Hope and teach them the lessons so many schools are not.
Originally published here.
The Impeachment Sideshow
When moving boxes started showing up in about 20 Democrats’ offices Thursday, it was supposed to be a joke. But after Thursday’s impeachment resolution, some House members might want to hang on to the supplies. “Get packing!” the label told vulnerable Democrats, who voted to make the sham probe official. “Since day one, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Washington Democrats have sought to remove this president from office,” Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) argued. But based on the latest battleground polling, the real question isn’t whether Donald Trump will lose his job - but how many Pelosi “moderates” will lose theirs.
After weeks of speculation, the only bipartisan vote on impeachment, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pointed out, “was against it.” With the help of two Democrats, Reps. Colin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, House Republicans sent a resounding message that the case against Donald Trump is rooted in nothing but politics. “They said they wanted to impeach him before he was even president of the United States…” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said on Thursday’s “Washington Watch.” “This isn’t about violations or crimes — which, by the way, is what the founders warned against.”
“If you look at where we are at right now,” Scalise went on, “we’re at an important point in history. Clearly, there are people that we serve with that don’t like the results of the 2016 election — that’s their prerogative — but [next year], the country… will be deciding who our president is going to be. It should not be Nancy Pelosi and a small group of people that she selects that get to determine who’s going to be our president.”
What this is, at its core, is a vote to deny Americans theirs. Democrats “don’t trust the people” to elect a president, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) argued. Why? Because they’re scared out of their minds about who the country would pick if they have the chance. Even Democrat Al Green (Texas) was blunt about the motivation behind this circus: “If they don’t impeach the president, he will get reelected.” But that’s not why we have impeachment. “Only in extraordinary and extreme instances should it be applied,” Congressman Darin LaHood insisted, “and as a former federal prosecutor, nothing in the facts or evidence presented so far supports [it].”
And everything leading up to this point proves it. “The Clinton and the Nixon impeachment were televised live,” Scalise reminded everyone. “Both sides had the same set of rules — fair rules. Republicans and Democrats could both call witnesses. The president was able to have legal counsel in the room. That’s not the case today. And in fact, we’ve seen what’s gone on in [Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) little secret chamber, where he’s hiding — literally having meetings in secret — and that’s [not justice]…” This is the very thing Alexander Hamilton warned about in Federalist Paper #65, Steve went on, that “he was concerned the power of impeachment could one day be abused for political purposes as opposed to for criminal acts. And unfortunately, today on the House floor… Democrats [did] just that.”
It’s easy to understand why Pelosi and her party are threatened. This is a president who was elected by promising to do very specific things — and he’s doing them. In the history of this country, the Left has never experienced the kind of resolve of a Republican president like Donald Trump. Unlike his predecessors, he isn’t yielding to the pressure of the Left — but moving forward, changing the way American politics operate. He’s in touch with the people and following through on an agenda that’s a slap in the face to the socialists in the House. And that’s what’s driving the Left crazy — not these phantom crimes and misdemeanors.
At the end of the day, Scalise knows, “They can’t beat him at the ballot box,” so “they’re trying to throw everything at him today.” And even that’s not slowing him down. While they’re wasting their entire majority on a political vendetta, the White House is hunting down terrorists, destroying ISIS, nominating judges, making trade deals, boosting the economy, and protecting innocent Americans. If they want to impeach the president, fine. But impeaching his conservative agenda will be next to impossible.
Originally published here.
“Lean Into God”: A Pastor’s Prayer for the Persecuted Church
Pastor Andrew Brunson spent two years locked inside a Turkish prison, falsely accused of being a spy. His true “crime” was spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in one of the largest unevangelized countries in the world. It was a brutal ordeal that we Westerners can scarcely imagine going through ourselves as we enjoy the material comforts and religious freedom that only a fraction of the world’s population shares.
But to hear Pastor Brunson tell it, he was actually blessed during his 735-day torment by the sustaining knowledge that a multitude of believers were praying for him, something that many other prisoners of conscience do not enjoy. As he told me Thursday on “Washington Watch,” “I know that many who are suffering for Jesus in prison are often alone. They are often believers who have come over from a different religion, often from a Muslim background, and many of them have been rejected by their families. It’s so important to be supporting them in prayer.”
Prayer is real. Just as Pastor Brunson was sustained by the “worldwide prayer movement that poured into Turkey,” as he describes it, so too are we believers called to pour prayer into all the places in the world where our fellow believers are being persecuted for their faith. This Sunday, November 3rd is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, a perfect opportunity for our churches to become bastions of prayer for the estimated 245 million Christians in the world who are harassed, imprisoned, tortured, and killed for simply believing they have a Creator and Savior.
As Pastor Brunson describes in his new book God’s Hostage: A True Story of Persecution, Imprisonment, and Perseverance, when we turn to God at our most desperate hour, He does the miraculous.
“I was really broken in prison by the conditions,” Pastor Brunson told me on radio. “I turned to God in desperation, and he began to rebuild me in the second year [of imprisonment].”
But it was by no means an easy process. “I thought, ‘I don’t measure up.’ I told my wife Norine so many times, ‘God chose the wrong man for this.’ I just don’t measure up to the people who have gone through these things before. And over time, I came to think, well, I think God chose the right man because he wanted a weak man who could then be an encouragement to other people who are weak.”
He went on: “Many people who I have heard since getting out of prison, I thought it was unique to me, this weakness and brokenness, but many people who have been in prison for Jesus — most of them are non-Westerners — they have said that they have an experience similar to mine where there are rays of light — things that God does that encourages them. But for the most part, they experience sometimes the silence of God and that feeling of abandonment. He doesn’t abandon, but we sometimes feel that way, and we need to learn to stand in the darkness and lean into God even when we don’t feel him.”
This is a profound lesson for all of us, and it gives great hope to those all over the world who are being persecuted for their faith: that when we lean into God during our most difficult trials and when we are feeling our weakest, God always responds.
“I found that God allows his children to be tested,” Pastor Brunson told me. “When we go into the valley of testing, we can feel very alone and despondent. I found that as I focused on him and decided to lean into him, I made a decision with my will, not with my feelings, but with my will to say, ‘whatever you do or don’t do, God, I am going to follow you.’ And as I did that, he met me at that point of weakness.”
Andrew and Norine Brunson recently shared their story more in depth at FRC’s Faith, Family, and Freedom Gala.
To watch videos and download resources for International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, visit rememberthepersecuted.org.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.