Friday, May 7, 2010

What Is Missing From A Government-Funded Reading Program?

The local paper article I read today was almost too fantastic to believe.

The Colorado state legislature passed an initial proposal to implement a “Pay To Read” program this week. Under this law, over $1 million of taxpayer money would be used to pay low-income children $2 for every book they read. It’s an effort, theoretically, to get children to read and, thus improve their test scores (based on a Harvard study showing a connection between the program and superior test results).

There is so much I could say about this legislation. Such as why our government feels it can use tax money to bribe children to read? Or why the reward is offered only to low-income children? Or the fact that public libraries full of free books are available to kids whose parents are in any income bracket? Or how such a program puts those low-income children on the government dole early in life? Let’s be honest – one of the lessons that many kids will learn is that the government will pay them just to “show up” or do the minimum required when they become adults. And a lot of those kids will go on to live their lives with exactly that expectation – and find themselves part of the welfare spiral.

I’m tempted to write on all of these topics, but the real issue for me was summed up by the bill’s sponsor – Democrat senator Chris Romer from Denver. He believes that researchers at Harvard “cracked the code” for child motivation and then defended his position with this heart-ripping statement - “It's much cheaper to build children than to repair adults."

“It's much cheaper to build children than to repair adults."…

Why do I think that statement is against all that is right and good and godly? Because Mr. Romer has plainly stated the depths which our society has plumbed. That is – that the parent-child relationship is irrevocably broken, and so we have turned to something else to replace it – the government, acting through federal programs. Rather than fix the very root of the issue, we have decided to spend great amounts of money on an inferior solution. The government believes it now has the duty to “build children”.

In Malachi chapter 4, the Bible tells us that a prophet will be sent to “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” That is the most desirable state for a family to be in. This verse is one of the primary reasons that my wife and I homeschool our children – not because they get a superior one-on-one education, but because it gives us far more hours in a day to turn our hearts toward each other. And it has been a tremendous blessing to our family for these past six years.

The idea of a government paying kids to read because society has given up on good parenting is at the farthest extreme from God’s design. The problem of uninvolved or uncaring parents cannot (and should not) be fixed by a government program. The verse in Malachi tells us that the source of the issue lies in the heart of the individual. And the heart is best changed by one thing – God’s gift of the Holy Spirit actively working in a person’s life.

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