The recent horrible crime in Boston, when six youths poured gasoline over a 24-year-old woman and burned her to death, is proof again that many of our young people do not believe in the Ten Commandments and are not morally educated enough to live in civilized society.
The elimination of moral training from our public schools began with the movement known as “progressive education.” This is a general term which has come to mean the educational theories which flowed from John Dewey and his disciples, and which resulted in the elimination of standards, values and discipline.
The Dewey theory was that there is no such thing as right and wrong, there are no absolutes, discipline must give way to permissiveness, and standards of conduct and achievement must be replaced by “life adjustment” education. This means that no matter how discriminatory the classroom no matter how decadent the community morals or irreligious its atmosphere, the chief purpose of education is to accommodate the child to the group.
One of the easiest ways to demonstrate the fact that moral training has been stricken from education is to compare the old McGuffey readers, which our grandparents studied, with today’s elementary school readers. The McGuffey stories taught the time-honored virtues such as love of God, patriotism, thrift, honesty, respect for elders, where there’s a will there’s a way, the golden rule, true courage, manliness, kindness to the less fortunate, obedience to parents, the value of prayer, the consequences of idleness and truancy, crime doesn’t pay, and why virtue and love are worth more than material riches.
The old McGuffey readers taught morals, religious faith, and family love. Incidentally, McGuffey also taught an appreciation of literature, poetry and history.
Modern readers, on the other hand, are completely different. The characters merely run and play, they look up and look down, they hear the duck quack and the cat meow. Their lives are utterly devoid of the standards, the values, the morals, the inspiration, and the Ideals of the McGuffey characters.
The last straw in the removal of moral training from our public schools was the U.S. Supreme Court: one decision forbade released time for religious Instruction and another forbade all prayer, even a simple non-denominational grace before lunch.
The same U.S. Supreme Court which has guaranteed freedom of speech for Communists to teach in our schools and colleges, and freedom of speech for smut peddlers to distribute their obscenity, has denied freedom of speech to children to say a simple two-line prayer in school.
By the failure to teach the Ten Commandments, or to permit the daily acknowledgment of the Divine Creator whose moral laws should be obeyed, our public schools are cheating our young people even more then if they failed to teach them reading, writing or arithmetic. Many innocent victims of crime are paying the bitter consequences.