Thursday, August 31, 2017

"So", they asked me, "What is Eagle Forum?"

Eunie Smith on the far left and Phyllis Schlafley on the right
Eunie Smith and Anita Hogue
"So," they asked me, "What is Eagle Forum?"

How shall I answer that, I wondered. I thought for a moment before replying.

Once a group of women were strolling by a rushing river. They heard a cry from the river and saw the head of a small child bobbing about in the waves.

"We must save him!" one exclaimed.

"But the river runs swiftly there," someone else said.

"Look there comes another!"

Without another thought they clasped hands and walked out as far as they could in the rushing water, grabbing each child as they drifted by and passing the child back down the line to the safety of the shore.

More and more children were caught up in the current. Their numbers grew until they could not save them all. The women's shoes got lost in the flood as they frantically passed one child after another back to the safety of the shore. Others joined them and vast numbers strove to save the children cast into the dangerous waters. 

Finally one woman broke away from the human chain and turned barefoot to head back up the river.

"Where are you going," the others demanded. "There are more coming down the river that must be saved."

"I am going back upstream to find out who is throwing them in!" she responded.

That is the Eagle Forum.

It was the illiteracy of the students in my classrooms that caused me to turn away from the efforts to continually remediate the flood of children who had not learned to read by middle school to find out who had thrown them in. According to their records, many of my students who were having trouble reading had made As and Bs in elementary school. And yet they could not read their secondary textbooks. So I went to the local college of education library and did research on the books teaching teachers to teach reading. My own children attended a private school using the ABEKA curriculum and were reading in four year old Kindergarten using Phonics. Yet those books teaching teachers had few mentions of Phonics.

But how does an individual stand up to a well-funded, circle the wagons educational establishment? The professors in the colleges of education have careers built upon the methods taught in those hallowed halls. Administrators then use children in our schools as guinea pigs for these methods to advance their own careers. Money from the federal government is tied to certain curriculum despite the fact that that curriculum promotes a political agenda and not academic excellence.

With a story to tell about what I saw in my classrooms, I answered a call by the Alabama legislature to address a Committee that claimed to be interested in grassroots voices speaking on what works in education. The legislators could barely keep their eyes open and got up and walked around or rudely turned and whispered to their aides while citizens spoke. Regardless of the many voices that came to speak, the Alabama First plan promoting Outcome Based Education in our schools became the official document. It was written by David Hornbeck who wrote Human Capital (something I have written on in other posts).

So much for grass roots. We were merely processed under the pretense that public input was wanted.

How do I know Hornbeck wrote the document? While we were in Montgomery participating in that supposed "grassroots meeting," the friend who came with me to Montgomery, said, why not go try to speak to the Superintendent of Education and tell him what I was seeing in my classrooms? Naive as we were, we thought he might simply not be aware of something that was so obvious to those of us brave enough to come and speak. Apparently many others saw the same thing because they also testified at that hearing. I must say I was discouraged.

Though discouraged we went to seek out the Superintendent of Education. Unfortunately, he was out of town, but the Assistant Superintendent of Education spoke to us. He pointed out a man he identified as David Hornbeck who walked in and out of the Superintendent's office. He was waiting for something to come in over a fax machine. It was no doubt the plan that got promoted as our "grassroots" education plan. I think it was actually the Kentucky Plan rewritten for Alabama coming in over that fax machine.

But, at that meeting, I met Eunie Smith, now the president of the National Eagle Forum. She came up to me after I spoke and invited me to share what I had said at a meeting of an organization with which I was unfamiliar. There I was introduced to other women who shared my concern about education. This group of women constituted the Eagle Forum of Alabama. They were an impressive group of college educated or extremely intelligent self-educated women who actually did research to find out what really works in education and just why it isn't making its way into our schools.

But there were so many more issues. These dedicated woman spent hours doing research at their own cost to track the source and consequences of curriculum choices, social, governmental and cultural issues. Thus armed, these women (and many men, as well) travel to legislatures throughout the country to lobby our representatives. They are not paid lobbyists. They pay their own expenses. They are patriots who love our country. They are Christians who love our God.

Progressive education has fallen prey to the bigotry of low expectations. But, even more, the schools are now hotbeds of demagoguery promoting radical ideology.

Who will stand for the children? Who will write? Who will call? Who will persist until our legislators listen?

A group I truly admire.

The Eagle Forum.

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength 
They shall mount up with wings of eagles 
They shall run and not be weary 
They shall walk and not faint. 

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