Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dialoguing Abortion Part V

In which we start drifting toward a debate on education...

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

I don't disagree that pro-life advocates need to take creative and tactical approaches in fighting this issue. That has been and will continue to be done in a variety of ways. In fact, I think the battle currently lies with state governments. The pro-life movement has also done a great job educating the public at a grassroots level over the past three years. But to the point at hand: I'd agree that fighting Roe v. Wade should not be the only method for defeating abortion.

I completely agree that pro-lifers will be more successful at the state level. It goes back to my bottom-up small scale approach.

And where does the lack of engagement come from? What is it that is keeping parents from being involved?

The thinking that has evolved is, "Well, the school will teach Elijah all about sharing, and honesty, and oh good, they’re going to have the sex conversation with him too. Whew."

I would argue that it is not schools teaching all this stuff that has made parents disengaged, but a massive cultural shift in which people don't want to do anything hard. It's easier to hand off anything difficult, including parenting, to someone else. We lead escapist lives trying to hide from anything that makes us uncomfortable or challenges us. Parents not getting involved with their children's education is only one symptom of this.

Our lives are ordered in such away that neglecting the important issues with our children is becoming easier and easier. This is most evident in the portion of the population where teen pregnancy is the highest- among the poor. Many folks in this demographic have formed a “the system will do it for you” mentality in regard to just about every aspect of their daily lives, including sex ed.

I agree the welfare state is a problem. We may have to have a similar discussion about it someday. Segueing into politics, I will say that one of the things I have liked in Obama's campaign is his call for individuals to stand up and take some responsibility for themselves. Oh, I have no illusions about his desire for increasing the government's roles in many areas, but it is refreshing for a liberal politician to also be talking about people standing on their own two feet.

This approach hasn’t worked when teaching evolution or history, for example. So with something like sex-ed, which is at least AS morally charged, we can expect, and have seen, the same results. You don't give a teenager who just wrecked the family Buick the keys to a Semi.

Well, the big difference is that evolution is science. I have no problem with biology teachers mentioning that not everyone agrees with evolution as long as they also point out that the people that do have not put forward a theory that fits the evidence near as well as evolution. The good biology teachers will also have no problem saying that the theory of evolution is an evolving (hee, hee) one and will continue to evolve as our knowledge grows. As soon as IDers or YECs can cobble together some sort of real theory backed by science, I won't have a problem with it being taught in schools. Good luck on that, though.

What do you have in mind when you mention history as not having a balanced view taught?

In terms of moral or philosophic discussions in school, I think it would go a long way toward getting students more engaged. Instead of just learning something like "Karl Marx was born in the early 19-century in Prussia. He was most famous for writing a book called the Communist Manifesto which was a socioeconomic examination of history," students can have a discussion on the the influence the book had on history. What is communism? What are the pros of such a system? Cons? Can Lenin and his Russian contemporaries really be called communists? And so on. Make the issues come alive rather than being rote facts and you'll see more kids excited about school. The same can be done with abortion or any other controversial issue. Better to meet them head on than to pretend they do not exist.

You can't change a culture through the structural constructs that have helped to create and perpetuate that culture in the first place. You're trusting a broken, dysfunctional education system with providing a clear, objective and accurate discussion on one of the most morally charged and personal issues of our day.

Except the structural construct does not exist in a vacuum. It was created by people, but us. Yes, the construct has cracks and serious deficiencies, but those deficiencies were created by us as well, so we need to and can fix them. I don't expect magical solutions, but I do expect that they can be fixed.

You've stated yourself that "I think that those who oppose abortion need to take a bottom-up approach. Talk to family members, friends, fellow church goers about abortion." Sex education became an issue in the first place because healthy sexual behavior disintegrated alongside the disintegration of families. The schools see the symptoms of that, and as a reaction now mandate sex education. But the education system is only attacking the symptoms of deeper issues that must be addressed at a family and spiritual level. As a result, the school system's efforts are proving more destructive than helpful.

I didn't mean to imply that schools should not include parents in their children's education on such topics on abortion, only that kids having homework that includes talking to their parents isn't going to suddenly make parents involved. Yes, yes, yes, parents must become more engaged. There is no doubt that this must be addressed. I disagree, though, that what schools have been doing is "proving more destructive." If schools had not been teaching sex ed, parents wouldn't have suddenly stepped up and done it. My mom did not have sex ed when she went to school, but her parents also never talked to her about it. I picture the schools more as putting a band-aid on the wound which actually needs surgery. They're doing something, but it's not enough because we need societal change, not just education reform.

Also in 2004, the Attorney General for California issued a legal opinion that “California schools cannot inform parents if their children leave campus to receive certain confidential medical services that include abortion… The opinion was prompted by resistance from teachers unions and groups such as Planned Parenthood... [to a 'parent-friendly' confidentiality proposal]."

A similar confidentiality policy is currently in place in Montana.

This is asinine. I didn't realize we had that in place here in Montana. One more thing to write to our legislators about, I suppose.

And if you're interested in what the future holds, the UK teaches abortion in schools now, and as the preceding web site indicates, teachers are publicly organized to propagate the pro-choice stance within the public school system.

Well, in some respects I think UK is doing worse off socially than we are here in America. When you've got the Archbishop of Canterbury saying that the country may need to adopt parts of sharia law, you've got some serious issues.

1 comment:

Jeromy said...

I kind of feel like the debate has run its course, so I'll leave just a few fleeting comments here.

1. About my comment on teaching history- History taught in the classroom has changed dramatically, even since you and I were kids. It's been hugely influenced by special interest groups and the popular cultural trends of the day. The result is a skewed view of history, which, as you know, results in a skewed view of the current world.

2. You said that "I picture the schools more as putting a band-aid on the wound which actually needs surgery." A wound that needs surgery will only be made worse if covered up by a band-aid. The wound is festering, but people have dissented to the band-aid as a cure.

3. You mentioned that the UK is worse off than us, and that is exactly my point. Interestingly, in regard to both education and welfare, the U.S. has followed the same trends and policy changes as the UK, but the U.S. has been about 10-20 years behind the UK in its outcomes. I was simply pointing to the UK as evidence of what is to come if we continue down the path we're on.

Thanks for the conversation, Shane-defintely worthwhile.