First of all, no, I am not leaving Family First. I joked with the President of Family First last week, who I directly report to, that my career plan was just to wait for him to die, so get on with it. He just won’t do it.
Seriously, I have been with Family First 12 years and mostly as the Director of our fatherhood program called All Pro Dad. In its infancy, I oversaw all of our NFL events, wrote the daily email (currently 70,000 subscribers) and our school program called All Pro Dad’s Day, which is a monthly dads and kids breakfast that meets in a public elementary school cafeterias. We currently have 1,000 schools that participate and are partnered with the National PTA.
Because God has so richly blessed the program, I had to spin off the NFL events to someone else a couple years ago. And now I have to spin off the school programs in order to focus more of my time on content (though I always hope to have a part in All Pro Dad’s Day). I’ll plan to talk more about my new role in an upcoming blog, but for today, I’d like to share my thoughts on education. I make these observations solely on visiting hundreds of elementary schools and participating in dozens of educational and PTA conferences throughout the years on behalf of the All Pro Dad school program:
First, as an evangelical, it’s been as common assumption among my fellow believers that public schools exist merely to teach children how to put condoms on a cucumber and push evolution down students’ throats. And I am sure there are places where that happens. But from what I have seen, it’s almost the opposite. Faith is growing in the secular cracks of schools and I am amazed at what school officials “can get away with” on behalf of their belief in God. There is hope there.
Secondly, I have come to believe that the biggest issues schools face have nothing to do with the school. It’s with the families of their students. When a child comes from a
non-nurturing family, they enter school with a lot stacked against them. First, science shows that much of the brain neural network that gives a child their subsequent worldview is set by about 3 years old. And if a child is exposed to emotional or physical abuse, they carry around with them the equivalent of post-traumatic stress syndrome. They also lack the ability to trust adults and are unfamiliar with the concept of delayed gratification. This is something teachers cannot fix, but are essential to doing well in school. There are exceptions to this, of course, but mainly the raw materials teachers have to work with are produced almost exclusively at home.
Truthfully, the key to education reform is family reform and parents who are willing to put their own perceived needs behind those of their children and derive joy from doing the right thing by their kids. To love and equip them to be able to learn. In a word, to be less selfish. Congress cannot pass a law against the self-centeredness of parents. The Department of Education cannot write a curriculum for it. It must spring from a spiritual motive, but then the church-state tension comes back into play. Only when we see that the only solution to family/school unity is under the crossbeams will we be able have true education reform.
So that’s my takeaway on schools. Looking forward to tackling more writing, editing and interviewing. More on that later. Blessings.