A few years ago WORLD magazine’s WORLD on Campus website published excerpts from a speech by former education secretary William Bennett at Patrick Henry College. His remarks are quite incisive:
How can American education improve? Education gets better locally. The single most important adult in a child’s life is the parent. The single most important thing about the education of the child needs to be the parent, and the parent’s attitude toward education: Not how much he or she knows, but attitude. The parent can be illiterate, not able to do any of the homework with the kid, but still saying, “This is important. You turn off the TV [or today he would say, “Get off your phone!” – DB]. You do your work. You listen to the teacher.”
And does that teacher need to be good? The research on this is fascinating: There’s a ton. It’s not class size. It’s certainly not facilities. It’s not technology. It’s the quality of the adult in front of the classroom. The research is clear: You are much better off in a bad school with a good teacher than a supposedly really good school with a bad teacher. If you take kids from the 50th percentile in the third grade, and you give them a teacher everyone regards as excellent, in two years they’ll be at the 85 percentile. You give them a teacher everyone regards as not very good, in two years they’ll be in the 35th percentile. What more do you need to know about evaluating teachers and rewarding excellence?
Mr. Bennett is affirming two truths that are central to a classical Christian education.
First, it is parents who have the primary responsibility to educate their children. It is not the state, not the county, not the Department of Education, but parents who are instructed by the Lord God to educate their children for Him. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 and Ephesians 6:4 are quite clear in this regard. It is parents who are the essential component of a quality education, and to be faithful to God parents must seek out the best and most God-centered education possible for their children. Do you embrace this responsibility? Do you embrace it with more than a tuition check but with daily conversation with your child about what she is learning? Do you read with and to your children? Do you engage with them and challenge them and encourage them? God has placed you in this crucial role and loves your children through you as you care for them.
Second, Mr. Bennett affirms that skilled teachers are the essential piece of the education puzzle. Our Lord taught us that “A disciple [or student] is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Teachers model, inspire, train, encourage, correct, and embody the traits and knowledge they are striving to inculcate in their students. Please pray for your children’s teachers and ask the Lord to give them strength, courage, and consistency in this high calling. I am always so heartened when a parent speaks of his or her faithful prayers for our teachers. And then I am even more encouraged to see parents getting to know and lifting up teachers. What a blessing Regents parents are to our school’s teachers, as they strive to bless our students daily.
God is indeed blessing the work of Regents Academy, and He is doing it through people, who are among God’s greatest gifts. Let’s keep trusting Him to do His work through us. And let’s keep trusting one another and getting to know one another better as we, together, seek to fulfill our great mission at Regents.