Is it ethical for the federal government to mandate the content that each school child is taught?
Also, the one size fits all mentality will, can, and has never worked. On a personal note, I have nine brothers and sisters, all of which were home schooled (yes, we fit the stereotype). None of us learn in the exact same way. In math especially, we all work out our problems using different rules, different techniques, and different thought processes altogether. For example, I used to do my multiplication upside down, no joke, and yet I multiplied my problems out faster than several of my siblings. This past semester, I took calculus with my sister. When given the choice, she will always take the derivative using product rule, while I would much rather use the quotient rule. If there is a ton of diversity in learning techniques amongst just ten kids... multiply that by a couple million.
Besides the fact that previous involvement in the arena of education has been a complete mess for the federal government, Common Core itself is impractical. Without diving into too many of the details of the law, this is my reasoning.
I gladly accept the challenge and look forward to a good debate.
As the pro side, I will refute my opponent's arguments and show exactly why it is only correct for the federal government, and indeed, any government to mandate content being taught in the educational program.
Con offers certain assertions as to the competence of the federal government to achieve certain goals, and due to its supposed incompetence, concludes that "it can be reasonably asserted that the federal government has no business in the education of children or the policies surrounding the education of children".
However, this assertion is completely false.
Firstly, we must analyze the role of the government when it comes to education and the educational system. The role of the government (any government) in general is to protect certain rights of its citizens, to offer them security, a chance to prosper etc. To do this, the government, or the state (as you will), must mandate certain things towards its citizens. A standardized edcuational system represents the values and the knowledge the state requests from its citizens so they will be able to work at the desired level and contribute to society. Through their contribution, the state prospers and has more resources and capabilities to invest in its citizens, and the circle continues. For this to be possible, every government must lay out certain expectations its citizens have to fulfill in order to keep this circle running. Therefore, we can safely conclude that it is not only justified, but also necessary, to have the government create a standardized program with standardized content.
Since the motion is about whether or not it is ethical for the federal government to mandate content that children are being taught, it is unnecessary to indulge in analysis concerning the competence of the federal government, for to prove the motion correct one needs only prove that it is indeed ethical for any government to do so. As far as the federal government is concered, I shall only say the following: the federal government is not eternal and it can be changed via elections. Whether or not the federal government is competent is a matter of the choice that the electorate makes in the elections and a matter of the political situation. Therefore, this is completely irrelevant as to whether or not the federal government should mandate content - we are not talking about this particular federal government, we are talking about any federal government.
This served to prove than on a general level, due to the relationship of the government to the educational system, it is necessary to have the government mandate educational content. Now I shall refute some of my opponent's more specific points.
My opponent claims that simply because the educational system is standardized, this implies hindering individuality and therefore it can never work. However, a standardized educational system only means that there is an equal set of general knowledge and principles for everyone to learn, and everyone will be graded accordingly. This does not exclude the fact that the educational system can offer programs concerning specific fields for individuals with specific interests, that it can individually approach certain children according to their preferences and generally maintain a more interactive policy. One cannot claim that standardization definitely excludes individuality. This is a matter of how a particular educational system approaches its students. I shall offer the example of Finland, which was rated as having one of the best educational systems in the world - they maintain a standardized program but with a heavy emphasis on individuality. 
This proves it can be done. Electing a government that would pursue such a plan, or actively lobbying for reform is the next logical step. Whatever the next step for the USA might be, I repeat - standardization does not exclude individuality.
Finally, my opponent brings up the example of him and his siblings who were homeschooled and it worked well for them. As much it might have worked for my opponent, many problems would be encountered if homeschooling was to be implemented as the general principle for educating children. I shall analyze this through the aspect of functionality on two different levels.
a) the state
If homeschooling was used as the general principle, the state would lose absolutely all control over how the educational program is being implemented, and consequently, it is very possible that this would lead to unequal and dissatisfactory results. Because of the fact that these citizens, the future workforce, do not meet general criteria, a lack in quality contribution, necessary to the state at the given moment, is a distinct possibility.
b) affordability and opportunity
Homeschooling is, and always was, far more expensive than state education. The government strives at least to provide basic education to everyone, therefore protecting the right to education and to equal opportunity. If my opponent wishes to propose homeschooling as a general principle, he would do well to explain how this would be affordable to everyone or to most people, and consequently, how this would serve to protect the right of children to be educated equally and to, as much as possible, enjoy equal opportunities - in short, how this would be ethical for the government to do.
Having said all this, I have proven that it is necessary for any government to mandate educational content, that standardization does not exclude individuality and that homeschooling is by no means a functional or affordable option - in doing so, I have completely refuted my opponent's case.
I stand firmly in proposition.
Nevertheless, I will try to give the best rebuttal I can.
In part "a" of your argument, you state that the state would "lose all control," and I welcome that day gladly. Are we so unmotivated that we need a government to "control" us? The state has far too much control, but that is another debate for another day.
You stated the standardization does not exclude individuality, I must contest that statement. Standardization is defined as - To cause to conform to a standard. The definition of individuality is - the quality that makes one person or thing different from all others. But let us not argue petty definitions.
The rise of Hitler was greatly aided by state schools (and yes, I did just pull the Hitler card). Prussian schools are one of the oldest public school systems in the world. These schools, though still respected today, were known to teach ideas of racial superiority among other things. "German anti-Semitism survived and, during the mid-1800s, began to increase. - See more at: http://alphahistory.com...; We know that much of this anti-Semitism was propagated by the Prussian government itself. In the early 1900s, a man who worked for the Prussian Secret Police, under the alias of Sir John Retcliffe, plagiarized and publish a work which he entitled "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Eventually this book would be used by the Nazi Party under the direction of Adolf Hitler. The same Prussian government that educated the children was inciting violence against Jews. When Hitler Came to power, he used the schools to not only spread his racist ideology, but also find the families that were not on board with his administration and eliminate them. In the case of Prussia, racism had been taught to the child a generation before Hitler came on the scene.
This is my fear with nationalized schools. Whatever agenda the current administration adheres to will be pushed down the throats of impressionable children. This has already happen in America in the realm of science. Even though approximately half of America strongly believes in intelligent design, it is not taught, and barely receives mention. Evolution on the other hand is taught as a fact, and those who are "creationist" are branded as narrow-minded flat earthers, most likely to be birthers, and probably a hick somewhere who owns fifty guns. This has also happened with homosexuality. When my fer went to high school, he believed that one of the teachers at his school was gay, but no one talked about it. Virtually everyone was either against it or had no clue what it was. Today, it is taught, it is encouraged, in our public school system. It is not a matter of whether sodomy is right or wrong, now, we are debating gay marriage. This is not progress, it is agenda that is being spread through the public school system.
I believe that the government should stay as far away from children as possible, not just schooling. Even in China where there was no public education system, Chairman Mao won over the hearts of the young people (children and teens) and the rest is history. An army of children, incited by Mao Zedong, brutally bludgeoned and slew millions of elders and learned Chinese in the Cultural Revolution. Today, the Chinese government is so involved with the children, that it even dictates how many children there will be (One Child Policy).
Outside of the fact that were brought up previously, public schools have been used and are being used to spread harmful agendas. Schools have their place, and I firmly believe that every child should have some form of schooling; however, neither the federal government nor the state government should not dictate what our children are taught, or how they are taught.
I thank my opponent for his rebuttal and will now offer mine in turn.
I will also reflect on the example my opponent offered about creationism barely recieving mention despite the fact that roughly half of the American population believes in it. By offering this example, my opponent has unwittingly proven exactly why school content should be mandated by the government.
Finally, my opponent claims he believes every child should have some form of schooling. This is interesting, because he hasn't in any way shown how this would be possible if the government "stayed away from children". State schools serve to preserve the basic right of education, and how this right would be preserved without them was never mentioned by the con side.
Besides the fact that I am deeply religious, I completely disagree with evolution from a stand point of science and common sense. Allow me to appeal to your more intellectual side. Think for a moment, if we either come from primates or have a common ancestor, then we have the same thought processes, needs, and goals, though theirs may be more primitive. Correct? I you agree with my reasoning thus far, I will take another step forward. According to the third chapter of the Origin of species, the goal and aspiration of all animals is to survive and propagate. To put it in simpler terms, animals will fight to eat (survival of the fittest), they will resort to eating each other before they die. This is a fact. I am currently hired as a farm hand, and already, two chickens have been eaten... by the other chickens. The other point that Darwin made was propagation (i.e. sex). Animals cannot resist their urges, they do what they want all the time when it is mating season. If humans are truly an animal, then this is also our only purpose in life. But seriously, do you truly believe that your only purpose on this earth is to survive and propagate? If you do, I would have to conclude that there is something deeply wrong with your thought processing. If my life can be summed up as - the fight for food and an insatiable desire to have sex - then I would just as soon commit suicide. Besides this, man can discern right from wrong, animals cannot. This was not derived from evolution. If it was, then at this point in time we are in a process of backwards evolution because murder and rape rates are the rise world wide. Creation is fact, there are many scientific proofs of it, regardless of what all of your books that you spend so much time reading may tell you. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty - 2nd Corinthians 3:17. Do you ever wonder why America is so prosperous and why all you tiny Balkan state keep on fighting each other? It is because Americas has stood on the principles of God's word and your countries do not. The history of the Balkan peninsula is stained with blood, and if I am not mistaken, is not Bosnia and Herzegovina engulfed in civil war as we speak? That was enough Bible thumping for today, now on to the next rebuff.
I think that you and I may agree with each other in the concept of material that children are taught. I took the liberty of taking this exert from your former rebuttal - This does not negate the fact that governments in general should mandate school content, it simply proves that certain governments need to be changed, deposed, or prevented from taking power. - So, you believe that unless a government is perfect in thought and in practice that it should not be mandating the content that children are taught. I have news for you, there are no perfect governments. And also, I believe you to be a revolutionary. A very dangerous thing to be, indeed. You should reconsider your violent stance of overthrowing governments. Have you no knowledge of the French Revolution? Do you not know the horrors of civil war on the Balkan? America has never heeled completely from its civil war, even one hundred and fifty years later.
You also believe that in a government that is considered by many to be democratic, that the peoples wishes and beliefs should not be conveyed to the next generation? How else can Americans pass freedom down to there children but to teach them what has made us free thus far? In all your readings, surely you have learned that all thing left to themselves tend to decay. Governments decay faster because there is money involved. A government, and indeed every government is, that is corrupt should not be teaching children, let alone saying what every child must learn. I will concede, if it were possible to have an idealist communist country - which it isn't - then in theory there could be a perfect school curriculum; however, because perfection is an impossibility in this life, it is there impossible to obtain or rather attain a perfect curriculum.
Another point that you made that I found to be quite dangerous was this one - It exists exactly so children wouldn't be taught that two plus two equals three simply because their parents believe so, - in this point you demeaned authority, in particular, the authority in the home. Studies here is America prove that children that are raised in a home with two parents (one female and one male) are more likely to succeed then those coming from any other form of home. This makes it plain and obvious that parents are not completely incompetent as you have portrayed them to be. The family is the single most important facet in society, and when families and family teaching ceases, a society will rapidly decline.
You stated that I was unable to provide a solution... how about FREEDOM! Is that too much to handle? Can you not wrap your mind around that? By freedom, I do not mean anarchy, I mean freedom from government supervision and its ever growing laws and regulations. I want a government that will incarcerate thieves, and end the lives of murders. I believe that the government's primary role is in the realm of justice, and that is where it should stay. The government should stop trying to provide benefits for everyone, we can survive on our own. It should stop trying to force us to make choices that it thinks are best for us. It should stop trying to limit free speech and expression. It should stop taxing the life out of those who have all worked hard to earn what they have. Can you not see? Has European Socialism swallowed you up whole also?
I know you to be very, very smart, but you seem to have little to no knowledge or understanding of freedom and hence you are doomed to be a slave to your government. Who decided that everyone needed to go to school? When I stated that everyone needs some kind of schooling, I meant rather to say that each child should learn (no government involvement whatsoever). As to what they learn and when they learn it, that should be completely up to the parents of the children. Apprenticeships used to work very well for boys in the eighteen hundreds. Apprenticeships are useful because they teach a child how to function in society while learning a trade and basic knowledge that would otherwise be taught in a classroom.
You also mentioned a foundation of what should be taught. What is your suggested foundation? Good concept, but again, who decides what that foundation should be? Here in America, we have Amish communities. The Amish are, of course, living in the same place and time as the rest of us are, but they dress different, they live different, they talk different, and it is their prerogative to do so. Their curriculum is completely different than anything taught in schools outside of the community, and it only lasts eight years. The Amish live that way because they believe that it is the right way to live, but they are not forcing the rest of us to live like them. Are you suggesting that we should force the Amish and home schools and other sects to use a specific government curriculum?
My position is sound, and I stand upon it firmer than I did before. My opponent is a great learned person and I respect him greatly. Keep up the good work, keep reading, though I would suggest the Bible to you, it may help you learn more about freedom and capitalistic theory. (Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith is another excellent read). Best wishes - Plato Bone
I thank my opponent for this debate and I will now proceed to my final rebuttal.
The first thing my opponent discusses in great length is evolution. Even though this debate is not about evolution, I'll reply to this as well.
My opponent's main question directed towards me is the following: "But seriously, do you truly believe that your only purpose on this earth is to survive and propagate?"
I believe that simply because some people find it quite depressing to consider that there might be no purpose for their existence, means there necessarily should be one. The evidence thus far suggests there is no such thing as "purpose", rather than we are even more insignificant and small in relation to the universe than we could ever have imagined. When confronted with something as grand as the universe, I believe that the quest to assign purpose, to add significance, without any claims whatsoever, to the existence of human life is nothing short of arrogance. If my opponent wishes to debate this in more detail, I'd gladly indulge.
Secondly, to say that man has the ability to "discern right from wrong" is to trivialize the concept of morals. To begin with, by stating this claim, my opponent presumes that "right" and "wrong" are absolute terms that exist in their own right, and therefore a sort of absolute truth. In making that presumption, my opponent is wrong. The concepts of "right" and "wrong" are man-made concept, used to describe what a certain society consides to be beneficial/justified or not; they arise from a certain moral consensus inside society. Therefore, not only are these concepts man-made, but they are also relative in terms of ethnical, religious and other individual differences (my view on what is moral differs from your view, which again differs from another individual's view). There are some things we consider as universally moral/immoral, but we only do so due to a man-made consensus at some point in history.
Finally, I'd prefer it if my opponent did not try to educate me in Balkan history. I believe that as one who has been studying Balkan history for a very long time, and also as one born in the Balkans, I am far more well-versed in said history than my opponent. If this is a claim he wishes to dispute, he may. Again, I'd gladly indulge.
To reply shortly:
a) Yes, you are wrong. There is no civil war going on in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
b) Balkan countries are far more religious than you believe, their respective religious traditions have lasted a fair number of centuries longer than America has been in existence, and it is exactly because of religion that many bloody conflicts have arisen in the Balkans. Again, do not educate me in Balkan history.
And whether or not America is "prosperous" depends on your definition of prosperity.
I also do not like it when my opponents strawman my arguments as con did here: "I took the liberty of taking this exert from your former rebuttal - This does not negate the fact that governments in general should mandate school content, it simply proves that certain governments need to be changed, deposed, or prevented from taking power. - So, you believe that unless a government is perfect in thought and in practice that it should not be mandating the content that children are taught."
No government is perfect in thought and in practice. However, an imperfect government (that is to say, every government) may function in many different ways and employ many different policies. Depending on what these ways and policies are, a government, such as Hitler's for example, ought to be removed from power. Since you believe I ought to "reconsider my violent stance", I believe you would have suggested the Romanians not to overthrow Nicolae Ceausescu, or the Germans not to try overthrowing Hitler. After all, overthrowing governments is really, REALLY, violent.
As for the French Revolution, after my opponent used this example, I am completely assured in his lack of historical knowledge. It is because of the French Revolution, because of the thinkers behind it, because of its challenge towards the ancien regimes, that modern democracy appeared in Europe. The ideas that inspired the French Revolution and the First French Republic were the ideas that inspired democratic insurgencies culminating in the revolution of the spring of 1848 and the beginning of the transition from monarchies based on divine right to modern democracies in most western European countries. As for the civil war in the Balkans...it is far too complicated a topic to analyze in this debate. I will simply advise my opponent to read my remark about Balkan history that I made at the beginning.
Next, the example I offered (parents teaching a child that two plus two equals three) was simply a metaphor and did not serve to show that parents are completely incompetent. However, consider a situation where parents teach a child to discriminate against African Americans because it is their belief that African Americans are "less human" compared to other people. Due to such risks, the state is here to offer certain regulations, to ensure that one's rights and freedoms only go as far as they do not endanger another's. I do agree the state is here to ensure security, but to do so, it has to restrict freedoms to a certain degree.
To illustrate this, I will introduce the concept of positive and negative liberty, made famous by Isaiah Berlin in his lecture "Two Concepts of Liberty" . The liberty my opponent advocates is negative liberty - liberty from external restraints, from interference by others. However, such a liberty is more of a "freedom from" than a "freedom to". With negative liberty, man is not able to fulfill his full potential. Indeed, negative liberty is inherent to the state of nature I discussed in the previous round.
The opposite concept is positive liberty. Positive liberty is liberty to achieve one's interest and potential. To do so, one needs a safe environment, provided by some association or structure (in this case the state). In creating states, and civilization itself by doing so, individuals give up their negative freedom and allow external interference to gain a sort of "internal" liberty to safely pursue their goals. To offer such safety, the government must necessarily set certain restrictions.
Finally, the government doesn't restrict the possibility to homeschool one's children if one wishes to or can afford to do so. However, in return for offering a far less expensive method of state education, the state reserves the right to mandate content because it is the way in which it will best prepare students to work and prosper one day in the future. The vision of a society is viewed through its educational system, and without this universal vision and with complete negative freedom, the state itself, the nation as a coherent entity falls apart, because without such vision in education (the system that produces future members of society), there can be no vision in society.
Oh, and yes, apprenticeships were useful in the 1800s. True, but the emphasis here is on the "were useful in the 1800s" part. Many things were useful in the past, and are no longer.
To end this debate, just a short remark. I have read the Bible. It influenced my atheism heavily.
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