Yet more evidence that the current administration is trying very hard to turn America into a Theocracy comes from this BP News (Baptist Press) article.
WASHINGTON (BP)—Christian values should have a place in the nation’s educational enterprise, the nation’s highest-ranking educator said.
“All things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. “Where a child is taught that, there is a source of strength greater than themselves.”
Appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2001, Paige is the country’s seventh secretary of education and the first African American to serve in the position.
“We are one year into this and it is a savior,” Paige said. “The state of our national education system is under-performing, leaving a large number of children behind—minority children, inner-city and rural children.”
Calling it a “grievous sin,” Paige said no child should be tied to a school that is failing. “A parent should be free to select a school that meets that child’s needs, whether it’s private, home school or public.”
Quality education can—and should—be modeled on religious values, Page said. “Religious values are wonderful values that we should embrace in our daily lives. I think it’s even more important that we embrace those values in our homes. We would have a much calmer, compassionate society.”
Oh boy. Where to begin with this one. I suppose it’s sufficient just to say that this whole article is just troubling, at least if you’re not a Christian.
As the chief spokesman for President Bush’s education policy, Paige shares his boss’s penchant for peppering speeches with religious overtones.
No shit. That makes twice today I’ve used that phrase.
“I believe faith is a good response to the problems we are facing in this nation,” he said. “I don’t think my job is to solve all the education problems in the world. It’s to work toward right solutions. The battle is never won. It’s only fought well.”
You would think that being the U.S. Secretary of Education his job would be to try and solve as many of the educational problems he can, but it appears he thinks wishful thinking in a supreme being alone is enough.
“My faith in God is not a separate part of me,” Paige said. “I can’t do that. I know clearly that where I am and what I do is not so much a product of my work, but a product of God’s grace.
“If it had been left up to me, I would have made a big boo-boo out of my life some time ago,” he added. “I understand what empowers me. My parents made sure it was engrained at a very young age.”
Just what the nation needs in a Secretary of Education is a man who believes it’s not his hard work and ability to fix problems that has gotten him where he is today, but the divine intervention of God on his behalf. Who needs qualifications and good ideas when you can just pray your way to success?!? Oh yeah, that’s one hell of an endorsement. Pardon the pun. I like his use of the word “boo-boo” instead of the more popular “cluster-fuck.” Nice touch.
As for those who disagree with his position that religion has a place in the nation’s public schools, Paige replied, “I would offer critics my prayers.”
I’d prefer your resignation so someone a little more Earth-bound could get in there and do something other than pray for the educational system to get better.
Found via Atrios.
Update: Looks like I’m not the only one outraged by this.
Civil liberties and education groups called yesterday for Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige to apologize or resign after he told a Baptist publication that he believes it is important for schools to teach Christian values.
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said Paige’s remarks showed “an astonishing mix of disrespect for both America’s religious diversity and the public schools.” In a letter faxed to the Department of Education yesterday, Lynn urged Paige to repudiate the remarks or step down.
Dan Lengan, Paige’s press secretary, said that the quotations in the article were accurate and that Paige has no intention of resigning.
Sandra Feldman, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a union representing 1.3 million teachers, said Paige should quickly clarify or recant his comments.
“Secretary Paige is right about one thing: Our public schools are filled with, as he said, many different kinds of kids with different values. But it is insulting for the secretary—who should be the advocate for the over 50 million children in our public schools—to say their diversity somehow compromises those schools. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is precisely what makes our public schools great,” she said.
Yeah, what she said!