Teachers in Osceola County, Florida schools were encouraged to complete an “Understanding Poverty” book and seminar. The central theme is that teachers need to understand where their students come from, accommodate them where they are at, and design the curriculum and assessment in such a way as to increase performance. Many traditional teaching techniques are self-defeating when we are dealing with students who are in poverty. The impoverished have a needs hierarchy that values basic necessities and immediate outcomes. Yet a teacher from the middle class tends to be more forward looking and seeks to impose the same standards and worldview on his students. This causes problems in connecting with students who will become increasingly frustrated and see the school curriculum as irrelevant and even oppressive to their need for social interaction and immediate gratification.
It is an oversimplification to say that kids can’t learn is because they are poor. But on the simplest level, this is the thesis of the seminar. It is reinforced by appealing to sociological theory. And I do not doubt that there are many good points of truth here. The problem with this idea is two things. First, students in poverty can learn to be forward looking. Second, the American standard for what is “poverty level” is not poverty at all compared to most of the world throughout history.
The writer of Understanding Poverty points out that poverty has just as much to do with income as an ability to allocate intangible resources, such as relationships, time, talents, etc. I wholeheartedly agree that poverty is as much of a spirit as it is a financial reality. I do not agree that teachers ought to accommodate a spirit of poverty. Every student can learn and make the most of their time. The fact that they often do not should not be reinforced with our accommodations. While it may look like we are doing them a service, we are actually training them to think that adult life is a time with few responsibilities that have hard consequences.
What we ought to be teaching students is that even if they do not have the opportunity to master the reading, writing, math and science curricula, they need to work in class, complete assignments on time and come to each class on time each day ready to work. “Eighty percent of success is showing up” does not mean they will automatically become 4.0 students and qualify for scholarships at the college of their choice. But it does mean that they will be trained with the necessary skills to either hold a steady job or succeed in some type of higher education. In today’s fallen culture, it will mean they will be in positions of leadership somewhere.
In a few years, the reality will become more apparent to many of these students. If car payments are not made bad credit and possible repossession will occur. If they do not show up for work on time, they will not keep their jobs for long and will not advance in their position and salary. If utility bills are not paid, they will have the added stress of the possibility of losing their water, heat and lights until they can make a payment.
For several months of my life, I have had opportunities to work closely with high school and college students in Ukraine, Russia, Venezuela and Peru. These were countries that had fallen at one time into a slavish oppressive society. One of the greatest problems to overcome in former communist nations is not an oppressive government, but rather a socialistic mentality of the people that expects the government to do everything. Dependence can lead to a slave mentality. The irony of this is that even in these countries, educational standards are much higher than in the United States. The United States of America is the most affluent nation in the world. We have many social programs in place that purport to provide assistance, food, education and housing to our poor. The average welfare recipient in our country has more material wealth than the middle class in many other nations. Our “poor” are materially rich. Many have cars, multi-room apartments, computers, disposable income for entertainment and food. Our “poor” are poor mainly in spirit rather than in material goods.
Bluntly put, our current system rewards the poor for a lack of initiative and industry. This indoctrination begins in school with a free education, thousands of dollars of free tuition per year and many more in resources that are wasted by educators who believe that if we only had more money, we could attract better teachers. More resources will supposedly solve the problem. The sad truth is that more money is being spent on public education than ever before. American teachers, although still underpaid, still make more than in any other nation at any time in the history of the world.
We could point to the breakdown of the family unit, but other nations that have the same divorce rate as America and a lower economic prosperity do better with their schools. The reason for educational decline among the lower income is not poverty. In my years as a teacher among lower income students, I have come across many theories on how achievement can be raised. These are the same theories I heard in the 1980s when I was an education major in college. After several years of some thought, I have reached a conclusion.
In the words of Walt Kelly, creator of the comic strip Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
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“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
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Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion
This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.
Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.
“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan
Running time: 85 minutes
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High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
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Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
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Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
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