Noah Webster, father of American scholarship, asked these three questions. He believed that these were the three most important questions one would answer in life, and that these questions were critical to discovering the unique purpose and fulfillment of every individual. However, the most critical time in life to answer these questions, he believed, were during the formational years of youth.
So, Webster set about establishing and producing tools for education that provided instruction for over 100 years—from colonial home-educated boys and girls, to those in log cabins in the wilderness, to those crossing the continent with their families in covered wagons—that would prepare them to answer these questions. His “blue-backed speller”, accompanied by the Bible, taught Americans “skill in letters” while underscoring the fundamentals of our Constitutional Republic. The first American dictionary, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language, defined words Biblically and through the lens of a self-governing people.
Webster’s philosophy of education was planted in three simple principles:
First, the Bible must be at the foundation of every subject and the cornerstone of all learning. He famously said, “Education without the Bible is useless.”
Secondly, every student must demonstrate proficiency in the three basic subjects: reading, writing and mathematics.
Thirdly, he was adamant that every student be taught Christian history, because Webster understood if we do not know the past, we cannot govern for the future.
These sound educational principles produced a good result for America. The first 100 years of our national life, public and political leaders were prepared to govern with principles honed by a Biblical worldview, a deep moral foundation discerning right and wrong, and a clear understanding of the place and purpose of America in the world. The youth were prepared for their roles as the future leaders of our Republic and at the end of the eighteenth century there was 70% to 100% literacy.
What has changed?
In the late 1830s, Horace Mann, the “father of progressive education”, was opposed to the fundamental conceptions of our American Constitution, namely, property, self-government and voluntary union. He advocated abandoning the Bible as the textbook and heart of curricula, and supported systems to develop government directed education. Then in the early 1900s, John Dewey continued this pathway by promoting schools as vehicles of progressive thought. The concept was introduced that education was merely academic or vocational, not moral or governmental.
What are the results?
Today, most Americans admit that there is a catastrophic failure of government education as observed in public schools.
By the government’s own standards of measurement we discover how ruinous this collapse is:
60% of fourth graders and 67% of eighth graders are not proficient in mathematics; 64% of fourth graders and 66% of eighth graders are not proficient in reading (National Assessment of Education Progress, NAEP, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, 2015 test scores)
The U.S. ranked 27th in mathematics and 19th in reading among international comparisons (NAEP 2015 test scores)
Only 18 % of American high school students are proficient in U.S. history (NAEP 2014 test scores)
88 % of elementary school teachers consider teaching history a low priority (Perspectives on History magazine, University of North Carolina professor Bruce VanSledright, 2012)
These abysmal scores, low international rankings and the attitude towards teaching history should cause us to wake up to the state of American public education.
But another article crossed my desk that was even more alarming.
“Students’ Broken Moral Compasses” published by The Atlantic in July, 2016 posited that the national adoption of Common Core standards has elevated standardized testing to such a level that character education has been pushed out of the classroom. A gaping chasm has opened, exposing a generation of young people unable to grapple with “the big questions about values, character and right versus wrong…”. The article goes on to state that schools have been forced to track and measure unrealistic academic achievement while sacrificing teaching principles such as honesty, moral courage and empathy.
How can the next generation of Americans be self-governed? What will be the outcome of our Christian constitutional Republic?
Maybe Noah Webster was right.
Looking at the above statistics and what they reveal about the state of education, it is apparent that we have abandoned the three simple principles highlighted by Noah Webster: the Bible as the foundation, proficiency in basic literacy skills and teaching history. We can also observe without too much trouble the correlation towards growing trends in socialism which have resulted in: immobilizing national debt, lawless rioters, corruption at the highest levels of government, socialized healthcare, unsecured borders and illegal treaties with foreign entities.
We do have a reason for hope!
There is a sea of change in Washington, D.C. and riding in on this tide is a “new” solution to the woes of failing education in America. Parents of all economic groups might no longer be at the mercy of a federally-controlled school district, but may have the opportunity to choose a private, charter, Christian school or home education for the teaching and training of their children. This is not only good news but has the potential to bring an avalanche of positive change in the direction and character of our nation!
Why FACE holds the answer to education reform in America
Over 53 years ago Verna Hall and Rosalie Slater published the answer to education in America. They rediscovered the remarkable principles and simplicity in Noah Webster’s philosophy of education. Today, the Foundation for American Christian Education (FACE), incorporating those same principles, assists parents, schools, pastors and patriots. We have the resources, tools and training, but most importantly, we have the historic method that taught many generations of Americans and prepared them to take on the full meaning and responsibility of Christian self-government.
Our phones are ringing!
As Christian parents observe a changing educational landscape, they are seeking alternatives in educating their families. We are providing tools that equip teachers, moms and dads, to reclaim the original excellence and purpose of American education. We provide the beginning steps to take, training in successful teaching and learning, support for their efforts, and curricula materials firmly grounded in a Biblical worldview. We are leading parents and educators in renewing the nation through education.
Resolute in safeguarding, teaching and planting the bedrock principles that sustain liberty
I’m sure Verna and Rosalie dreamed that their vision would become a movement that would restore our nation to its original purpose. They were pioneers, just as our forebears, spreading the story of our Christian heritage that is the foundation of American liberty and exceptionalism.
However, unless we heed the call to safeguard this knowledge through education and ensure that our next generation of American citizens have a clear understanding of how and why our system of government protects liberty and property, we are in danger of losing it all.
May I count on you?
That is why I am writing to you. I want every child to answer Noah Webster’s questions: Who made me? Why was I made? What is my duty? These questions lead us to the discovery of the key to Christian civil liberty, and my hope is that every young person in America will have the opportunity to ponder and answer these questions for their own life.
Will you consider a gift today? A donation of $100, or any amount, will ensure that we can always provide answers, assistance and support to schools, families, churches and patriots preparing our youth to become instruments of Christ, grow in character and become the leaders that will advance Christian self-government and our Biblical Republic. Your gift will be deeply appreciated and gratefully acknowledged.
I would like to close this letter with a quote from Verna. She had a way of bringing our focus to the most important concepts, what she would call “leading ideas”. She wrote:
The Bible is the only source of man’s knowledge of how to obtain and maintain Christian civil liberty, and history shows that according to the degree the Bible has been received by the individual and its contents related to all aspects of his life, has Christian civil freedom risen or declined. (Consider and Ponder)
We must be vigilant and wise in upholding our youth, parents, teachers, pastors and all those who desire to learn the truth of America. We must diligently teach the Bible as the source of our Christian civil liberty in our homes and schools. This, and only this, will protect our Christian civil freedom.
Thank you again for your prayerful support and generous gifts to the Foundation for American Christian Education. It is by your continuous efforts that we are able to sustain and expand this noble work and message for America.
For Christ and His Story,
P.S. Your gift today will help our children answer Noah Webster’s three critical questions. The education of this generation will form their worldview and in time will become the political and governing viewpoint. Please join us in our three-fold mission: safeguarding His Story, teaching Biblical principles that formed our nation and planting seeds of Christian self-government.