Continuing College Woes – Debt, Irrelevancy, Entitlement, Etc.,

As I looked across the countryside from my patio. I marveled at the beauty. How could a country girl from Iowa be so fortunate? Somehow my mind went back to the first school I attended on the Sand Cove, a country school near New Albin,Iowa. I was just four, but I didn’t know I was too young for the first grade. I loved it. I found a gold mine. I had a teacher and big kids to answer my many questions about my world.

I rather quickly traversed my early school experiences; my teacher’s faces had the same smiles; the wonder of the books and maps and the globe was still vivid; I could place my finger on the globe and dream. All held memories of excitement. High school in Lansing, Iowa, where my coach, Eddie Albertson, and the other wonderful teachers worked their magic, was small. The superintendent had a sign in his small office that read: There is always room at the top. It just added confirmation to what I already knew. I wasn’t staying on the bottom rung of any ladder–my own or any ladder placed in front of me.

And then I went to college. What an opportunity. I had no money; I had no job. I certainly did not have a college wardrobe. I didn’t have any idea what that might even be. But I never allowed those facts to cloud my screen of opportunity. I had the most important ingredient. I had faith. I did not have to see the entire path before I took the first step. And my experience and heritage taught me that hard work produced answers to dreams.

My mental journey stopped. I was back in the reality of today. I listened to the news while I was eating my breakfast. There were the college audiences gathered to hear the campaign rhetoric. These young voters are being trained better each year to believe that a college education is their right. But that’s not where the entitlement stops. They want grants. When there are no grants available, they are convinced that they are entitled to loans. They are convinced that the money they borrow is a good investment for their future. They get deeper and deeper in debt. Each loan, they think, will get them closer to the pay-off of their investment.

Colleges set a great table of choices; students can feast at the table no matter the cost since most are not spending their money. Tuition costs have risen sharply. College debt of students has become enormous. Young people finish a degree or two or even the terminal degree for a profession, and find themselves with staggering debt. They remove their cap and gown, say goodbye to their college buddies, and head out to collect on their investment. They have the piece of paper that says they’re ready. And maybe they are, but for what decade.

Educators have a thing about relevancy. We spend vast sums of money to make curriculum relevant for our students. But somehow while we fiddle with the same set of stuff, we haven’t noticed that the music is the same. We have the same disciplines in our colleges, the same teaching methods, the same kinds of classroom, and professors with tenure and their disciplines to protect to keep it that way. I hate to say this, because I love books and I have a lot of them, but our libraries are filled with books that will never be used again.

But back to our college students who are campaign targets. So far what I have heard is what they are entitled to have, including current talk of forgiving student loans. They are being trained to become permanent members of the culture of entitlement.

I want to hear some talk about students being responsible for their choices. I want to hear some straight talk about jobs. Tell them to be careful about their choices; check the economy. Tell them to ask the professor or advisor who is recommending  college majors to them, to give them the name of five recent grads of the program so they can check out where they work and what their pay is. Tell them to keep track of technology. Ask the young people who graduated in the last couple of years what the future holds for them. Ask them if the field they chose has any relevancy in this decade. Ask them if they need the expensive degree they have to do the job they are doing. And what about parents who held two jobs so their kids could get not only an irrelevant education but also were probably taught values that are contrary to parental values and to our founding principles.

In the past couple of years, I have talked with so many of my friends who have children or grandchildren with expensive college educations who are working for minimum wages in retail or fast food places. They have no chance to pay off their debt  with minimum wage.They feel cheated, deceived, and discouraged. Their hope is for change.

Don’t misunderstand me. I still believe in the value of a college education. And I have respect for the degrees people earn; I am proud of my doctorate from UCLA.  And if someone wants to study one of the great disciplines for enjoyment and knowledge, that’s great  But if they hope that their education is directly job-related, there needs to be more “truth in lending,” and colleges and universities need to have more job-relevant majors. If colleges and universities are to exist in the future, they must serve this generation and the generations of the future rather than the tenured professors who occupy their hallowed halls. I mean no disrespect for those many great and noble professors at our universities; I was a tenured professor at major universities. But I truly believe that our colleges and universities must become relevant, and they must be totally honest about how they fit into the future of this great republic.

A Second Letter to My Young Friends: Your Freedom is Slipping Away

Now that we’re back in the election season for 2020, we are again at work capturing the minds of the young. So much of the political jargon is used to accomplish this: cancel the college debt, free tuition, free healthcare, free housing, guaranteed job and income, or a check whether you work or not. All of these are the additions to political discourse to the young from 2012. The following excerpt is from a blog published in 2012.

“There is such a push in this political season to capture the vote of the young people. Of course, there is always a push to capture the minds of the young. And I chose the word capture very carefully. That is what I mean. If you can be indoctrinated to hear only one side of an issue, to think in only one direction, to believe the passionate message of a speech or presentation, and if your education does not help you to become an independent, critical thinker, the task of the politician becomes relatively easy. You are a life-long this or a life-long that.

Last night I heard soaring and passionate rhetoric about working hard, moving forward, not back, about opportunity and the American dream. I heard about love, compassion, grace, about health, and education. My goodness! The filing cabinet in my mind is full of this utopia that is yours with the right decision on your part when you vote.

This morning as I sat at the end of my driveway, I cleaned the files. I cannot push the save key when things don’t make sense. When I see the national debt at 16 trillion and I’m hearing about all the things my government must provide, I cringe. It seems like a ball hit out of the park when we talk about hard work; I call foul ball to all that jargon when I know that almost half the population of this great land is on welfare and the work requirement tied to a welfare check has been altered. And many continue to collect unemployment for weeks on end .

I definitely have to remove the files about honesty and integrity and promises kept. Promises broken are promises broken. Trust is gone; I do not know many young people who act like ostriches with heir heads in the sand. My young friends, do you trust your parents, your teachers, your friends if they lie to you?  Why would you trust politicians who have broken their promises?  Those broken promises are lies.

You may be young, but I know that being young does not prevent you from knowing truth from falsehoods, honesty from dishonesty, joy from anger, hope from despair, and a hand-up from a hand-out. Truth should be the currency of your politicians who become your leaders. You must not continue to elect people who are bankrupt–their  truth currency has all been spent.”

Today June 2019, the debt is much higher, the student debt is much higher, the push for free things is much higher (health, income, jobs, housing, etc.,), but the purpose is the same – capture the vote of the young. My real worry is that we are transforming a generation or two to believe that there is real potential of socialism. We are creating class envy; an entire youth culture of ungratefulness, entitlement, unfairness to the extent that they are experiencing nothing else. Our young do not experience our true history; many do not know about our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and other founding documents. When it becomes all you hear, all you see, and all you experience, a diverse way of thinking is no one where in your life. The conversation is largely about the free things and the entitlements that are our rights – not even an addendum on responsibility to maintain our Great Republic. Unless we change, we will surely lose the Republic our founders gave us. I believe the transformation of the culture will be evident on the stage tonight in the first political debates.

When I was a Little Girl: The Lessons I Learned

I walked to school in snow that was occasionally quite deep. When I got to school my feet were cold, my mittens were wet, and my hands were very cold. The schoolhouse was nice and warm, heated by the pot-bellied stove that the teacher had started a fire in much earlier. I don’t know what time the teacher had to get there.

Now, when I was your age or when I was a little girl are statements that can produce the closing of the ear passages. The words can bring a sigh or at least non-verbal behavior that indicates disinterest. Or it might even bring the statement, “Well, would you like to go back to those horse-and-buggy days?”

No, I don’t want to go back to freezing hands and feet. And I don’t want my grandchildren to have to walk in deep snow to school, or run behind a horse-drawn bus to keep warm, or sit on the cold wood seat with a bag of salt or a hot brick to moderate the cold just a wee bit.

However, I wouldn’t mind going back to some other things I learned.

I appreciated the heat because I knew the cold. I appreciated the snow and the warm summer days because I knew both. I appreciated the teacher who went early to light the fires for her kids; I never heard her say it wasn’t in her contract or that her day started fifteen minutes before the kids arrived. I never heard one of my teachers say she had to go home when I wanted to stay and read a book; she knew I didn’t have books at home. She would just put more wood in the stove.

I learned character from my family and from the great stories with a message in my readers. I wasn’t separated from the concepts of our Founders that have made a great nation because of the “establishment clause.”  I read about our history as it really happened. I learned about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They were there to guarantee the freedoms that people fought and died for. It was presented as the lasting document that it must remain if we are to survive as a republic. No one suggested modernization to “fit the culture and the times.”  I learned from the writings of the Founders that they sought Divine Guidance in their work.

Yes, I learned to appreciate, to be grateful for the opportunities, to love my country and understand what has made it great. And I didn’t expect anyone to shovel a path in the snow to make my trek easier. In the process of it all, I learned to serve, to shovel paths that make it easier for those who follow.

 

College Debt–An American Tragedy

More than a trillion dollars in debt hangs around the necks of our young people in this country. How sad, we proclaim and go about our business. It’s too bad, we say, and allow our colleges and universities to continue their self-serving practices of allowing students to borrow and borrow until the sum of the debt seems to be meaningless. They borrow more. These institutions continue to offer majors that offer no career paths for those who carry the yolk of the debt. They will be saddled with debt that has no end when a job after college pays a minimum wage.

These young people cannot buy a car, a house, or take the vacations they dreamed about taking when they finished college. They often cannot even afford their own place to live. We have heard much about them living with their parents. These young Americans went to our vaunted colleges and universities with great hope and expectation. This journey was a big part of their American dream. A college education was just a part of their itinerary. This piece of their life was on the main highway to reaching their dream. Instead, for many, it has become a seemingly permanent detour.

But that is not the worst. Now we are being told that young people are selling their bodies to help pay their college debts. If this is true, it is a tragedy. How can we look in mirror?

Yes, the students should take more responsibility. But for those of us who have spent a lot of time at a college or university, we know the environment is very enticing, particularly if you can borrow money so easily to stay there. Because so many have grown up in the entitlement culture, it is easy for them to feel okay with borrowing the money. They feel someone else will pay my college debt.

 

Free College–A National Nightmare

There was a time when a college degree really meant something. There were great publications about the value of our investment in education. Many years ago the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had a great publication delineating clearly the return on an investment in higher education. It was clear to me as a young person making decisions about my future, that I had to “go to college” if I wanted to “better my circumstances and change the direction of my future.” You see, there were not too many opportunities in a small town in Northern Iowa.

So, off I went with enough borrowed money for tuition, very few clothes, and one pair of shoes. My American Dream was within  the walls of Iowa State Teachers College, my energy and will, and the angels along the way. The only thing free was the opportunity.

Fast Forward! Now we have many college students saddled with enormous debt and no prospect for decent jobs because they have majored in a curriculum that is almost or totally “careerless.”  As long as students can borrow more and more to stay in the womb of our colleges and universities, they will do so. It’s a great place to spend wonderful years. But the money they “invest” in their future is not theirs. There is no thought about whether one class is more valuable than another to them personally. There are all kinds of values that we gain from our college experiences, but how it fits into the mix of how we finance our futures ought to be among them somewhere.

I can guarantee you that when you work two or three jobs to get through college, you even question those “required.” You come to understand the “fight of the disciplines” in our educational system, particularly in higher education. I have listened to it and participated in these discussions ad nauseum–how much of what creates “an educated person.” They are usually devoid of the question, “What will help me get a job?”

It makes me sad and sick when I hear the words “free college.” They are the words of the transformers, those folks who want to change our great nation from one of freedom to slavish dependency. Free college would allow unneeded and not useful courses,  disciplines, majors, etc.,  to prey on young minds as they entice, indoctrinate, preach and sell their wares. We will have more unprepared young people leaving our colleges and universities; they just won’t have to carry and be responsible for the debt they created; we will.

Why should they care. It’s not on their credit card. Free college is a horrible idea for our nation and a destructive idea for our youth.

George Washington–Lest We Forget Who He Was

From the time that his mother sent him off to war and commended him to the providence of God and reminded him to private prayer, Washington continued to give testimony to his belief in the providence of God. He became a legend, as a warrior, even to the Indians; it seemed impossible to kill him. He believed that he “was protected beyond all human probability and expectation, for I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on  every side of me.”                           .

There is too much in Washington’s own pen and those who were close to him, for the revisionists version of him to have any credence. He prayed regularly. Each night at nine o’clock he would go to his library to pray; people who had to seek answers in case of an emergency would find him on his knees praying in front of his open Bible. He did the same thing early in the morning. Washington also kept the Sabbath; he attended church, he did only those things that were absolutely necessary. He was a pious man

 Washington even conducted worship services for his troops when there was no chaplain assigned. During the French and Indian War when he was in charge of the troops defending the country, he led the troops in religious services. He was a man of such honor, he conducted a burial service for General Braddock who died in the French and Indian War. Washington was just a Colonel, but he carried a small Anglican book of worship and prayer. Washington would retire to his tent each night for prayers, or go into the woods if he couldn’t get away from people.

 Washington believed in Divine Providence. When Washington became commander in chief of the American forces in the Revolutionary War, an order to the troops confirmed his belief.

 The General most earnestly requires and expects  a due observance of those articles of war established for the government of the army, which forbid profane cursing, swearing, and drunkenness. And in like manner he requires and expects of all officers and soldiers, not engaged in actual duty, a punctual attendance of Divine service, to implore the blessing of Heaven upon the means used for our safety and defense.

 This was a most remarkable man. He was a noble and pious gentleman. Assassination of character would seem impossible as you come to know this man. Perhaps it is because his life was lived in such a devout manner to religion and civility, that the efforts to destroy him are so brutal and untrue. He must become know again to our young, those in the middle who have learned the distortions, and a reminder must be given to those of us who are seniors lest we forget.

                          

 

 

Religious Freedom and Our Schools

One of the more amazing things that I have come to examine more and more is how cleverly the transformers have used “religious freedom,” one of the great tenets on which our Founders based everything. Diabolically, they have taken this great foundation of tolerance for all religions and turned it on its back. They used our deep desire for tolerance of religion to preach to us about tolerance in all areas. While they are extracting tolerance from us, they are free to practice intolerance. If we show the least bit of resistance, they know how to make most of us feel guilty. They have most certainly used all areas of our society when and how ever they could.

They have flooded our schools with multiculturalism. They have used our national instincts for tolerance to promote their agenda. While they have been removing more and more Christian ideas and ideals from our books, they have been putting more and more about other religions in our school books. While they are teaching our kids more and more about tolerating other religion, they have been distorting the historical facts about the religious content of our beginnings.

Universities, where I have spent much of my career, are the worst offenders. To find a conservative professor is quite a task. I have taught my classes during student strikes; I was told by my peers that I must not do that. Opposing the strike was not a good political move. I insisted that I was only conforming with what they were striking for—freedom of speech and assembly. If the students who were striking had the right to not attend class, then the students who wanted to attend class must have the same right. Oddly, no one seemed to be able to dispute that logic.

Universities are populated with boatloads of Marxists. Many don’t outwardly admit to the name, but they teach and indoctrinate their students with those ideals. Most young people who attend the liberal colleges, most are, come home after a short time to discuss with their parents if conservative, how wrong they are. “You don’t understand. Your way of thinking is old fashioned. There are more modern ways of thinking about our political system and our economy.”

The change in many, including my own, occurs when they get their first pay check and discover how little “they have left” after all the deductions are made. “Mom, this is not fair.” It’s a natural place to take them back to what you taught them in the first place. They find an eternal truth. Old doesn’t mean bad or outdated. So it is with our Founding Documents, our founding ideals, and our God given rights. They are no more out of style than the Bible is for a Christian. .

Churches have been used extensively to fight the battles of the transformers. The strange part of this is that one would expect most religions to want to keep Christ in Christmas, would want to keep our Christian beginnings in the textbooks and in our teaching, and our God given rights ever before our student’s eyes as God given rather than government given. I suspect that sometimes our church people are the most vulnerable to the tolerance pleas and the subsequent guilt that follows if they don’t succumb.

Our School Boards that succumb to the distortion of the holidays, who don’t follow what’s in their textbooks or what is being taught in their classrooms, are also at fault. It is difficult at that level to know. Often you are “protected” from knowing for the fear of “micromanagement.” Our young people are in school many hours a day during their formative years. The battle that Texas and other states fought and are fighting, belongs to all of us. The inclusions and exclusions in our textbooks are critical to our future. As McBrien said in America First many years ago, “There must be the right material on which the American youth may settle their thoughts for a definite end in patriotism if our country is to have a new birth of freedom and if “this government of the people, by the people, and for the people is not to perish from the earth.”  This is so true for this day.

 

 

 

 

Is the United States Exceptional?

Yes! Definitely! You Bet! Absolutely! Without Question!

Start by asking yourself a question. How could so young a nation have become what we have become, and how could such an upstart do all that we have done in such a short period of time if we were not exceptional? Our history is minute in time in comparison with some other countries, yet we have done so much. Being exceptional doesn’t make you better than others; it makes you different with different gifts and different responsibilities. And we are different, or at least we were at our inception. So what makes us so different?

Our Founders were very special people. They created a new nation that would have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Many leaders and nations claim this, but our Founders did it. They created founding documents that could correct the evils they had experienced with government interactions with its people, and documents that would assure the  “of, by, and for.” They understood the nature of human beings and the temptations and foibles that accompany power. They understood the corruption that often follows power. They created a system of checks and balances. They meant to have a citizen government; unfortunately, we have nearly come to have a government of political professionals.

They created a Bill of Rights, a set of guarantees that would assure liberty and freedom for all its citizens then and now. They could not possibly have created what they created if they had not been futurists as well as realists. They did everything that they could to secure for the generations to follow what they fought and died for. These founding documents were not fashioned from thin air. A look at the governments of the various colonial states tell much about the breeding ground for the thoughts, deliberations, and actions of these incredible men. And they did all of this at their own peril and the peril of their families.

Think about this. Our founding is unique. It is exceptional. No nation before or since our founding has been given governing documents like those  that created our republic. Our Founders knew this was a job bigger than all of them. That’s why they acknowledged the presence of Divine Guidance. They knew that they had to have their God in the middle of the circle. So many of the principles and values found in early governing documents came from their strong Christian heritage, from their Bible. That’s how we became “the shining city on the hill.”

The light of that “city” is what makes us exceptional. We are willing to share that light. That’s why we try to shine the light of freedom, even in the most difficult of circumstances. We fight and die for our freedom and the freedom of others. We believe our rights come from our Creator, not our government. We believe in small, citizen government. We believe in limited government. We believe in hard work, self-responsibility, honesty and integrity, in serving and helping those in need, in being frugal, and in individual rights. And so much more.

We are exceptional. Not better than, but exceptional. Others saying it is not so does not change that. Only we can make us not exceptional by forgetting what makes us exceptional or destroying what keeps us exceptional.

The Pesky Establishment Clause

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Bill of Rights was passed in 1769 following the Revolutionary War. Freedom was won from the United Kingdom where the Anglican Church was the state religion.  The First Amendment, quoted above, has been and remains a social and political football.

The arguments center around three philosophical points of view. There are those who believe that the establishment clause prevents any government support or endorsement of religious establishments. A second point of view holds that the establishment clause prevents the formation of a Church of America, a national church, and maintains that the Founders were clear in their endorsement of Christianity. There is a third point of view that maintains that the government may support  or even endorse religious establishments as long as it shows equal treatment.

Thomas Jefferson is often quoted to suggest a wall of separation between church and state. “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

It is certainly an indication of intent of the Founders that the same First Congress that proposed the Bill of Rights opened its legislative day with prayer. It must be noted that this same Congress voted federal dollars to establish Christian missions in the Indian lands.

Supreme Court interpretations of the Establishment Clause began in 1947 with Everson v Board of Education. The Court, in a 5-4 vote, upheld a state law that reimbursed parents for the cost of busing their children to parochial schools. It was thought that if the reimbursement had taken place, that the state would clearly have violated the Establishment Clause. Subsequent cases would indicate that even small factual differences make a difference in the outcome. Justice Black stated with one case that the Constitution did not require, “callous indifference to religion.”

It wasn’t until the 1960’s that prayer in the schools was outlawed with a new interpretation of the Constitution. Prayer and Bible readings were used in many public settings including the public schools. In 1782, the United States Congress passed a resolution recommending and approving the Holy Bible for use in all schools.

The question of school sponsored prayer has been and still is a hot item. Schools have done away with baccalaureate services even when the service is conducted in a church and attendance is optional. That is a narrow interpretation as a result of the assault on Christian beliefs using the Establishment Clause.

The McGuffey Reader was used for over a 100 years in the public schools of the United States. McGuffey declared the Christian religion to be the religion of our country. Many passages in the Reader were drawn from the Scriptures. Lincoln called McGuffey the “Schoolmaster of the Nation.” McGuffey spent his lifetime trying to instill his strong beliefs on the next generation. He believed that religion and education needed to be related to have a  healthy society.

The Readers were filled with stories that reflected the importance of religious values. The stories were about allegiance to the country, the importance of work, the need for an independent spirit, strength, character, and truth. The Readers helped to shape America’s character and standards for morality for more than a century.

The Readers followed the values and moral character found in many of the early documents of our Country. Some founding State documents talk of integrity, trust,  industry and mirror the standards of the Bible from which the ideas came. The importance of the Readers was extensive; it is estimated that 120 million Readers were sold between 1836 and 1960. They remained in use in some schools until 1978.

Clearly, there was not an issue with the Establishment Clause. To the contrary, it was deemed necessary to co-mingle education and religion to maintain the tenor of our nation, to maintain the principles upon which we were founded. ,

The history of these issues and decisions surrounding the Establishment Clause are co-mingled with the freedom of speech issue in the same amendment. Both are protected by the First Amendment that prevents the government from establishing religion and also prevents government interference of privately initiated religious speech and activities. Finding the clear distinction between the two is not always easy. The Supreme Court has made clear, however, that private religious speech and secular speech are equally protected

The Establishment Clause has been used for different causes and reasons to eliminate the use of religion and the practice of religion in any public situation. It is being used to try to remove God from any public area. There are efforts to remove “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. Perhaps the largest effort now is to remove “In God We Trust” from our currency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Proud Moment

It was a proud and satisfying moment when a reporter asked me whether I was a conservative or a liberal. Great! He couldn’t figure out what label to attach to my candidacy. The question came during the campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction in California in 1970. It is by design a non-partisan race. Campaigns are supposed to be about education, about kids and learning. Those educators running for election should be presenting their ideas, concepts, philosophy, research, and their proposals to improve the quality of California public schools. Their assumptions should be devoid of politics.

The reporter continued after his question. ,He said, “Sometimes you sound like a flaming liberal and sometimes like a staunch conservative. Where do you position yourself?”

That was perfect. When I walked into a classroom, sat in my  counseling office with a student, planned learning experiences, wrote curriculum, or did research, it was not as a politician. It was as an educator. It was, and is, always about learners, teaching, and learning. It was, and is, always about being the professional who can help to keep politicians out of the decision-making roles in education. It is bad enough to fight the rules and regulations imposed by state politicians who have acted to gain and maintain the support of political groups. It is more difficult to witness what happens from the federal level. Programs spring up and millions of dollars are spent to promote one group or another. Administrators spend hours and hours filling out forms and keeping records. Things that are birthed from political pressure usually end from political pressure. And we try another idea, or we wipe off an old idea, give it a new name, and find out that it was no better the second or the third time. When you take your eye off the ball, you can’t get to first base, let alone hit a home run.

When you think, act, dream, and implement only those ideas that are best for learners, there are no conservative or liberal labels. When people are free to become all they were created to be, there are no political labels.

Yes, there aren’t even any politically correct conversations.

Maybe the Presidency should be non-partisan