Can you have educational excellence without God? On a superficial basis you can. For example the two killers at Columbine High School, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, were excellent readers and writers. They were intelligent, clever, and self-motivated. In their senior year Eric and Dylan began a video production class. They made movies. Dave Cullen writes in Columbine:
Eric was gobbling up literature: Macbeth, King Lear, Tess of the d’Ubervilles. He could never get enough Nietzsche or Hobbes. Once a week, he wrote a short essay for English class on one of the stories or sometimes on a random topic. ... In September, Eric titled one of his short essays, “is Murder or Breaking the Law Ever Justified?” Yes, he responded — in extreme situations. ... The law must bend. Eric made the same case in his journal but took it a step further: moral imperatives are situational, absolutes are imaginary; therefore, he could kill anyone he wanted.
In other words, the moral absolutes of the Bible had no meaning for him. “Thou shalt not murder” was imaginary. Morals are situational. That’s what our humanist-atheist schools teach these days, and Eric agreed with what he was being taught. There is even a book on the subject, Situation Ethics, The New Morality by Joseph Fletcher, published in 1966, written for use by pastors and educators. On the matter of stealing, Fletcher wrote (p. 59):
It cannot be said that it is wrong to take away a man’s possessions against his will, for that would condemn all taxation — or the removal of a revolver from a homicidal maniac; neither of these is stealing — which is always wrong; though high authority has held that a starving man may steal a loaf of bread rather than die of hunger, because life is of more value than property and should be chosen first for preservation if both cannot be preserved together.
An extreme situation is always used to justify disobeying “Thou shalt not steal.” If the starving man were a believer, he would ask for a loaf of bread, for in civilized society people are always more than willing to help a starving man. He would not have to steal the bread.
But the educators always put the student in an extreme situation. For example, the lifeboat survival game requires the student to choose whom to throw out of the lifeboat so that the others can survive. The lesson is stacked so that there are always a few socially useless people on board whom no one would miss.
And so, can there be educational excellence without God? It is a valid question when you ask, what is educational excellence? The answer is that without God there can be no educational excellence. Thus, the present atheist American public school system is incapable of producing educational excellence because of the absence of God in its curriculum. High literacy without biblical morality does not equal educational excellence, which must include a sense of meaning to one’s life. Life without God is life without purpose.
Thus, educational excellence can be achieved only in a godly context. A student not governed by moral law can become what the two Columbine killers became: suicidal murderers who hated life and loved death. And the reason why their parents suspected nothing is that they could not imagine that their perfectly normal, intelligent sons could do what they finally did. And they could not imagine that atheist, humanist, nihilist education could have such an evil influence on their sons. They had grown up in the belief that the public schools were morally safe places for their children, and therefore could be trusted to protect their children’s welfare.
When Dylan’s father was informed of what his beloved Dylan had done, he said, “That was not my son.” Had he homeschooled his son the massacre would most likely never have happened. But the school created this gap between father and son that contributed heavily to this tragedy. Indeed, few parents understand the gap that atheist schooling can create between them and their children. No one in the school was held responsible for turning Eric and Dylan into killers. Yet it was the entire atheist system — which includes not only government schools but the entertainment industry and the popular drug culture, as well, with its hatred of God — that was to blame.
One teacher did come forward. He was Mr. Tonelli, Eric’s government class teacher who greatly admired Eric and was totally taken in by his lies. Cullen writes (p. 267):
Months after the attack, following a briefing on the killers, Tonelli went to see Fuselier [the psychologist in charge of analyzing the crime].
“I have to talk to you,” he said. Fuselier sat down with him. Tonelli was racked with guilt. “What did I miss here?” he asked.
Fuselier assured him that he hadn’t missed anything. Eric was simply clever enough to pull the wool over his teacher’s eyes. But no one asked why Eric was given Nietzsche to read and how the absence of God influenced the killers’ behavior.
Parents are puzzled by what goes on in the atheist schools, and they can’t figure out what is wrong with their children. They don’t realize that when their children are deprived of a godly purpose, they are living at an animal level and are bound to do foolish and even criminal things. Were condoms distributed at Columbine? Premarital sex has created more social dysfunction than any other teenage activity. Sex education has no place in educational excellence.
That is why Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education can never achieve its much-vaunted goal. Without God it can never succeed. Its mission statement reads: "Our mission is to ignite a movement of reform, state by state, to transform education for the 21st century."
Their reforms include using advanced technology in the schools:
Digital Learning Now is a national campaign to integrate current and future technological innovations into public education to better prepare students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and careers.
Bush is also recruiting Chiefs for Change: "Chiefs for Change is a coalition of state school chiefs that share a zeal for education reform. Together, they provide a strong voice for bold reform on the federal, state and local level."
And what is the Reform Agenda?:
The Foundation supports performance-based promotion, particularly in the third grade for students who can’t read. [How can students reach the third grade without learning to read unless they are being taught by whole language or some other faulty method? In other words, the Reform Agenda will not address the problem of teaching methods in the primary grades.] Digital Learning: The Foundation supports the use of technology to provide a customized education for each and every student. High Quality Teachers and Leaders: The Foundation supports an end to tenure, data-based evaluations and compensation, and alternative paths to certification/licensure. Rigorous Academic Standards: The Foundation supports academic standards that are aligned to college and career readiness, including Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and math. School Choice: The Foundation supports policies that empower families with the financial freedom to attend the school of their choice, including public, charter, private and virtual school.
What about sex ed, death ed, obituary writing, values clarification, sensitivity training, psychological testing, student data collection, and other aspects of the Affective Domain? The Common Core State Standards have already been criticized as being unimplementable by establishment educators and administrators. Yet implementing these standards will cost billions of taxpayer dollars, and there is no guarantee that they will work any better than previous reforms.
In short, true educational excellence is achievable only by believers because they know that life has a purpose, and that the most important task for the individual is to find that purpose. The knowledge that God exists and that human beings are beholden to Him for their life and blessings is what makes children believe that their own life has importance. Digital technology, quality teachers, rigorous academic standards cannot take the place of God in a child’s life. Without that essential divine purpose, children wonder what is the purpose of everything that goes on in the atheist school. They go through the motions in order to please their parents and the community. Occasional church attendance on Sunday is supposed to supply what the schools cannot. But the schools are not neutral. They deliberately undermine a child’s belief in God by teaching evolution, situational ethics, moral relativism. And when the children are not in school, the undermining is continued by the drug-influenced entertainment industry, whose most conspicuous contribution to today's popular youth culture is "gansta rap."
And while Jeb Bush’s Reform Agenda speaks of rigorous academic standards, it is unlikely that they will teach the Three Rs as they should be taught. To achieve excellence in education the child must be taught our symbolic systems as effectively as possible. Children learn to speak their own language without the help of a certified teacher. They are dynamos of language learning. Language is a symbolic system in which speech sounds stand for objects, feelings, and ideas. A good school will help a child master his own language. Learning to read is part of the process. The child must master the alphabetic system comprised of 26 letters and 44 language sounds. These symbols stand for speech sounds. Then the child must master our number system — the 10 symbols that are used in arithmetic and higher mathematics. Mastering symbols is the essential work in the primary grades.
Once the child has learned to read then he must learn history, which begins with the Bible, the story of man’s relationship with God. History must then be learned chronologically so that the student can learn the causes and effects of historical events. This means studying the history of America in great detail, understanding how our government was formed and why this form of government was the best ever devised by man. This also means studying the lives of the men and women who created this great country.
In a school governed by God’s presence, we don’t learn Social Studies, which were developed by socialist educators. We learn separate subject matter, such as history, geography, economics, art, architecture, invention, etc. All of this can be taught at home by parents using good books and programs.
In the course of all of these studies, the child will begin to develop a sense of purpose, that this pursuit of knowledge and development of skills with symbolic systems is preparing him or her for a purposeful life. That is the essence of an excellent education. But that is only the beginning. Formal education provides the child with skills needed to fulfill one’s purpose. But the learning process goes on as the child achieves adulthood and begins to pursue a career in a field he or she has chosen.
Some individuals become aware of their purpose early in life. Others go through a long soul-searching period asking God in prayer: “What do you want me to be?” But generally it is one’s God-given talent that leads to a purposeful life. We are all different. A professional musician is different from a professional golfer. A writer is different from a ballet dancer. Each profession requires a different talent, and God-given talent creates a fulfilling sense of purpose. Our public schoolers emerge from their atheist schools as dumbed-down animals. They can find their purpose only by throwing off what they learned from their humanist teachers. Unfortunately, not many can do it.