BY MIKE HUCKABEE
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Programming Note: This week, my writers and IT person will be on a well-deserved Fourth of July vacation. But never fear, we’ve written lots of great material in advance for you, and rest assured that if anything earth-shattering occurs – like Hunter Biden being held accountable for ANYTHING – we’ll rush back to our keyboards to cover it. In the meantime, join us in taking a much-needed break from the news to relax and celebrate the birthday of the greatest nation in the history of the Earth while I’m still allowed to say that.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Why Art and Music Are Essential in Schools
Aside from letting leftist indoctrination take over our public school system, the biggest mistake we conservatives made in education over the years was in thinking that art and music classes were expendable luxuries and should be slashed to concentrate on “the three ‘R’s.” Not only are art and music classes important in themselves, but they are also beneficial to helping students excel in other subjects, including math and reading.
As the so-called “triumph of the nerds” has shown us, the twenty-first century will belong to the creative; they will thrive and prosper, both as individuals and as societies. The creative ones will be the competitive ones. This is why China goes to so much trouble and expense to try to steal our patents and infiltrate our universities and corporate R&D departments.
While you can't teach creativity the way you do state capitals and multiplication tables, you can nurture it by offering art and music to all of our students, all the way through school. I believe that our secret weapons for remaining creative and competitive in the global economy are art and music, what I call our "weapons of mass instruction."
Studies have shown a direct correlation between music education and math scores. Music develops both sides of the brain and improves spatial reasoning and the capacity to think in the abstract. Music teaches students how to learn, and that skill is transferable to learning foreign languages, algebra, or history.
Art and music education levels the differences in academic performance among students from different socioeconomic backgrounds and reduces delinquent behavior. Art and music education results in what all parents and school districts are looking to brag about: higher SAT scores. I am a living example of how learning to play guitar can take a shy kid out of his shell and set him on a path to success in life he might otherwise never have imagined. This is why I support organizations that provide instruments to underprivileged students.
Some children decide early on that they're not good at school and they hate it. Art and music can save these children and keep them in school. For them, biology may be broccoli and Spanish may be spinach, but when they get to art class or band practice, that's a hot fudge sundae. If it weren't for these opportunities where they feel successful and worthwhile, where they're enthusiastic and engaged, many students would drop out of school. According to research by the Education Commission of the States, there is an established correlation between art and music education and high school dropout rates.
It infuriates me when people, especially my fellow conservatives, dismiss art and music as extracurricular, extraneous, and expendable. To me, they're essential to a well-rounded education.
In reality, creativity doesn't really have to be "taught" because it is naturally "caught" by every child.
Do you have to beg a three-year-old to sing or a four-year-old to draw pictures or a five-year-old to playact various roles when playing fireman, doctor, or parent? What happens between the naturally creative early years and the bored-to-death teenage years? Those years are spent in a classroom in which students are told to sit down, be quiet, face forward, get your head in the book, and be still.
Students today aren't dumb. The people who run the educational establishment, who want to create a conveyor belt that treats students like parts in a manufacturing plant (like the one in the Pink Floyd video for “Another Brick in the Wall”), are the dumb ones. And there's no reason to let it stay that way.
America the Beautiful
God's creation is all around us. We are blessed with his bounty. Take a moment to enjoy it.
A blank book of pages
The first school in which we enroll, and the most important in shaping our future, is our home. A casual view of modern TV shows might lead us to believe that parents don’t matter. I contend that nothing matters more.
When Benjamin West was a boy, his mother left him in charge of his younger sister, Sally. Benjamin found bottles of colored ink and painted Sally’s portrait. When his mother arrived home, she discovered spilled ink and ruined paper. But before she had the chance to scold Benjamin, she saw the picture. Then she planted an encouraging kiss on his cheek. He would grow up to become of the greatest painters of historic and religious artworks, a teacher of many other famous artists, and a major force in launching Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts, for which he served as president. Benjamin West would later say, “My mother’s kiss made me a painter.”
Every child’s life is like a book of blank pages waiting to be written on. Something is written each day. A parent who exposes a child of hours of television, video games, unsupervised time on the Internet, and an occasional trip to church is not likely to raise a child whose value system will mirror that of the parent. The child will probably reflect the value system of the entertainment industry.
While researching for a book I co-wrote on juvenile delinquency (“Kids Who Kill”), I became aware that children need parents who are informed, involved and (yes) invasive in their children’s lives. There is no single fact that will explain why a child as young as eleven would commit mass murder, but one thing seems certain: the likelihood of this taking place decreases drastically when children have a stable home, good role models and parents who are clearly more afraid for their children than afraid of their children.
Too many parents fear angering or alienating their children. They convince themselves that love means avoiding asking their children questions about how their time is spent and who their friends are. They fool themselves into thinking they’re being good parents when they don’t hold their children accountable for their schoolwork and other activities. On the other hand, we shouldn’t be “helicopter parents” who are so overprotective that our children turn into a generation of “snowflakes” who cannot learn through their failures or develop a healthy maturity and independence.
The requirement of parents summed up in Ephesians 6:4 is simple yet profound: “Do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Children should not be driven to exasperation by parents who make demands that are so difficult to achieve that the children are prevented from succeeding. There’s a vast difference between breaking a child’s rebellious will and breaking his or her spirit.
As parents, our goal should be to channel the energy of our children, rather than destroy their creative and curious natures given by God that motivate them to discover their unique purposes. We are further admonished to bring up our children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” By both example and exhortation, parents are to nourish their children. Most values are caught and then taught. Our children are more likely to imitate what they see us do than what they hear us say.
We live in a world where a meal can be microwaved in seconds, and an Internet message can be transmitted around the world almost instantly (another reason why it would be nice if they were fact-checked before hitting “Send.”) But part of the legacy we must leave is raising children who understand that some things can’t be rushed. Patience is a virtue as well as a pathway to victory. Things of great value take time.
If the thing to which you ascribe the greatest value in your life is your children, then don’t they deserve the greatest amount of time, nurturing and guidance you can possible give?
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The Value of an Education
As a rock music fan, I enjoy Pink Floyd. But “We don’t need no education” is bad advice for life.
When our kids graduate school, they no longer just have to compete with each other. They now compete in a global marketplace. Not only have low-skilled jobs moved abroad where labor is cheap, but to attract new high-paying, tech-based jobs to America (or even to work online), our kids need an education as good or better than students get in China, India, Israel and other nations. Sadly, our schools are not giving them the tools they need to compete in the 21st century.
I have a friend who owns a printing business. He gives job applicants a pencil and ruler, and asks them to mark an eighth of an inch, a sixteenth of an inch and other simple measurements on a piece of paper. He tells me that no more than one out of ten even has a clue what he’s talking about. If America’s students can get a high school diploma without knowing basic fractions, then all we’re equipping them to achieve is a fraction of the American Dream.
Of course, the cry always goes up, “We need to spend more on education!” But we already spend over $550 billion a year, more than 4 percent of the gross domestic product. If money equaled results, then Washington, DC, should be crawling with junior Einsteins. DC public schools spend over $30,000 per student per year, or $10,000 more than the tuition for an in-state graduate degree from the University of Virginia. Yet DC’s reading, writing and math scores are well below the national average. Money alone doesn’t fix the problem.
Those who are obsessed with “income inequality” want to tear down those who earn more, but have no ideas for helping those who earn less. Well, here’s one: finish high school! Nearly a third of US students drop out. Over their lives, they’ll earn, on average, a quarter million dollars less than high school graduates. They’re also more likely to suffer ill health, get involved in drugs and crime, and die nine years younger. Staying in school benefits both them and society.
But if we want students to learn, then schools have to make them want to learn. To ignite their curiosity and turn them into lifelong seekers of knowledge. That takes both involved parents and competent teachers who are rewarded for good results. Kids need to be taught how to think, not just memorize standardized tests. They also need to be taught real facts and real history, not trendy racist, socialist and anti-American propaganda.
Dropping arts and music classes is the most short-sighted budget cut a school can make. Studies show that music class helps kids do better in other subjects, develop social skills, and stay in school longer. It might also improve the current dismal state of pop music. We must remember that schools exist for the students, not for the teachers’ unions or the education bureaucracy (so open the schools and stop letting the unions keep them closed.) And we need to keep most decisions about education at the state and local levels, with close parental involvement, so they’re made by people who know the students best.
If you think that doesn’t matter, look at all the home-schooled students winning academic contests. Home is as local as you can get, yet those students are more than ready to compete on the world stage. Don’t you want your kids to be?
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