My oldest daughter graduated high school recently, and at the small ceremony we had, I offered to her the following charge. Because of time constraints, I had to edit the original piece down a bit to make it fit with the time we were allotted. I present the unedited version here with her permission.
Just start talking about what people ought to do with their children and sit back and watch people bristle and fume. Now enter the federal government. Uncle Sam, cloaked in the garb of data, speaks and tells parents, teachers, and administrators to simmer down and listen, “Listen to the all-benevolent Uncle Sam because I know what’s best for your children.” The problem Uncle Sam is running into nowadays is the bloody wake of children laying lifeless in his shadow. Despite the best efforts of so many parents, teachers and administrators, you just can’t revive the husk of a child who has had all the love of learning and knowledge drained from their humanity by the vampire that is Uncle Sam’s educational machine. This vampiric machine has been churning away since Horace Mann took a page out of the Prussian education system, but until recent decades, Uncle Sam has had enough sense to keep his machines behind closed doors and out of the public eye. But with the advent of outcome-based education (i.e. SOLs in Virginia, EOGs in North Carolina, etc.), No Child Left Behind, and the most recent Common Core, Uncle Sam has dragged his machines out on the front porch for anyone who wishes to take notice of the pile of children who have been drained dry. A steady stream of families have been rescuing their children from this gruesome affair, hence the blooming home-school movement among other educational venues. But now there are multiple stories of teachers who are jumping ship, especially in secondary education. Here’s the most recent piece of news of a teacher taking her last bow on the stage of government education. Parents, thank you for all the hard work you do on your children’s behalf. But remember that regardless of what educational method you choose for your children, please know that your children’s education is ultimately your responsibility and not the government’s. Maybe that seems too simplistic to even say, but my three years as a public educator taught me not to take this point for granted. Teachers and administrators, thank you for fighting the good fight from within the system. We will salute your endurance if you choose to stand and fight but will also respect the desire to leave and be educationally engaged in another venue. In the end, we all need to tell Uncle Sam to stop trying to tell us that he knows best and to get his bloody mitts off of our children.