I'm always amazed at the hatred the Religious Right aims at America's public school system.
Last Thursday, Concerned Women for America (CWA) sent out an email with the subject line: "Please Help Our Children." At first, I thought maybe the group had come up some sort of assistance program for needy youngsters.
What an incredibly foolish thought!
CWA Founder and Chairman Bev LaHaye instead was on the warpath against public schools.
"Forty million of our nation's children are returning this fall to a system that is broken," she growled. "They are entering into a culture that has been stripped of all notion of right and wrong. They are sitting down in classrooms designed to educate in math, science and English, and instead are being taught about 'alternative' lifestyles and lessons that promote sex to our youngsters. So how can any of us be shocked when they engage in outrageous sexual behavior? The schools all but endorse it!"
Continued LaHaye, "How could our school system have fallen from being the best in the world to a broken system that is turning out kids that not only have no moral foundation, they can't read, spell, add, or find Iraq on a world map?"
LaHaye blasted the National Education Association, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network as "the greatest enemies of our children."
That list really cuts to the heart of LaHaye's problem. She despises the public schools because they welcome students of all faiths (and none). They do not indoctrinate students in LaHaye's fundamentalist religion, and many schools teach comprehensive sex education as well as respect and tolerance for gay and lesbian students. (I wish more did so.)
America's public school system serves some 90 percent of our nation's youngsters. By and large, it does a pretty good job. Schools take kids from a wide range of backgrounds, including the severely disadvantaged, and do their best to provide a good education. Public school teachers deserve our gratitude, not vicious lies.
Is every school doing as well as it should? No, of course not. But where schools are not succeeding, we need to fix the problem, not attack the very concept of religiously neutral comprehensive public education.
Our school system is a vital national resource, and we must make it as strong as possible. We must also make sure that we keep people such as LaHaye from destroying it.