All of the recent discussion regarding teachers, unions, and education has been very interesting. Unfortunately it has not been very enlightening. It seems as if the conversation has divided into two sides that are pitted against one another. I find it very disappointing that while both sides have good points both sides also wildly manipulate information. In addition, they use biased information. It is supposed to be research but it hardly qualifies as such. How a union gains credibility by promoting “research” put together by their own self-funded organizations is beyond me. How legislators can promote the value of charter schools when they score among the worst, at least in one state, is also beyond me.

I believe the best comment about education was stated very clearly in a recent broadcast by personal finance leader, Dave Ramsey, well-known for helping people get out of debt and “act their wage.” His comment went something like this, “The best indicator of successful schools is the involvement of parents.”

Yes, yes, yes! Absolutely! Active involvement by parents is the deciding factor in a child’s personal growth. Parents cannot rely on schools, the church, the government, or anyone else to do the job they have been given to do.

What kind of change would we see if our conversation was not about unions and test scores and charters but about how to help parents be wildly successful?

A brief comparison, and a lot of questions, about public education and health care for all:

Is health care for all going to be like public education for all? Will there be high expectations and rigorous accountability? If so, by whom and for whom? Regulation of institutions? Medical personnel?

Will there be promises of money to go along with these expectations? Who will provide it? What will happen when the money isn’t there? Where will the cuts be then? What staff will go? What taxes will be raised? What services will be cut? What corners will be cut? Is there a bailout package that will be prepared when (not if) this happens?

Will this actually improve the current health care situation? For some? For all? Will it be mandated for all? Will we have to keep the same records for every patient at every institution like schools have to do now? How will incremental improvement be measured?

Just something to think about…

Check out this thought by Jeff Myers from the book Handoff (ht: Dan Burrell)

“In the 1400s a weakened Christian culture found itself under constant attack by a growing Muslim culture. As Amurath I, rule of the Ottoman Empire, conquered more and more territory, he decided that if one-fifth of the spoils of battle were the Emperor’s share, he should also have a right to one-fifth of the captives.

Amurath instructed his troops to choose the smartest and strongest of the sons of Christian families he had captures. These boys — as young as seven years of age — underwent training in everything from agriculture to statesmanship.

Many Christian parents voluntarily turned their sons over, treating such slavery as a “scholarship” that would guarantee food, supervision, and education to their children. What they didn’t seem to realize — or just ignored — was that the young men were being indoctrinated in a fanatical ideology and shaped into a brutal fighting force. They were called the Janizaries.

Over time, the power of the ottoman Empire grew, while that of eastern Christianity declined. In 1453, hordes of Muslim Ottoman Turks surrounded Constantinople, the seat of the Eastern church. Sultan Mehmet II. a ruthless and shrewd commander just 23 years old, led the siege with 100,000 troops, including 70,000 trained infantry and cavalry, 20,000 skirmishers known for the love of raping and looting, and 10,000 Janizaries.

A mere 7,000 tropps rallied to the defense of Constantinople. They were well trained and desperate to protect their families, but weeks of pounding attacks made Mehmet’s victory inevitable.

Just as the exhausted defenders steeled themselves for Mehmet’s final onslaught, they were frozen by the blood-curdling screas of thousands of young voices: Mehmet had unleashed the elite Janizaries. These young warriors swarmed against the walls, found a breach and charged through, wreaking havoc and slaughter.

The Janizaries had no idea — or didn’t care — that their swords were drenched with the blood of their own families.

Someone will train the next generation. The question is who, and for what purposes. “ (Handoff; Jeff Myers, pages 45-47, Legacy Worldwide, 2008.)

Or how about this one from Mark Batterson’s new book, Wild Goose Chase (ht: thoughts of a student pastor)

What is most lacking in the church of Jesus Christ is not education or resources. Keep learning, but we are educated way beyond the level of our obedience. And keep giving, but we do not lack the resources to alleviate poverty or fight injustice or spread the gospel. We are the most resourced church in the most resourced country the world has ever known. You what is most lacking? Good old-fashioned guts.

The will of God is not an insurance plan. It’s a daring plan. And more often than not, the will of God will involve a decision that seems unsafe or insane. Dare I suggest that the twenty-first century church needs more daring people with daring plans?

In the words of a daring twentieth century missionary, C.T. Studd: “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”

The church needs more Studds! And you can quote me on that.

I haven’t read either of these books but these short pieces certainly have me thinking. I hope they have you thinking too!