ERIC Number: ED421566
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1994
Reference Count: N/A
In Search of Common Ground. A Briefing Paper on School Reform & the Religious Right.
Averitt, Debbie Lee
This document provides a background for understanding the conflicts surrounding educational reform and the reactions of the religious right, and it outlines critical implications for policymakers, educators, business leaders, and other interested citizens in North Carolina. Both educational reformers and the religious right agree on the need to improve the schools, but their differences are rooted in widely differing paradigms. The religious right believes that truth is absolute, and that it is the purpose of education to teach these absolutes, while educational reformers see the purpose of contemporary education as teaching students to think for themselves and to develop informed judgment, self-reliance, responsibility, and tolerance. A look at the politics of dissent makes it clear that the religious right has become more sophisticated and effective in recent years. In the 1990s, the focus of religious right opposition to school reform has shifted to local political activity frequently directed by national organizations with well-orchestrated plans. One widespread reform, outcome-based education (OBE), has become the rallying point for the religious right's campaign against reform. In theory, OBE defines desired outcomes of education and measures progress on actual achievement, but in practice it represents a major shift in focus in that attention and incentives are centered around student achievement instead of inputs such as class hours and curriculum requirements. To the religious right, however, OBE is a program that hampers bright students, substitutes psychotherapy for the "three "R's," and usurps parental authority by including values among the goals of public education. In North Carolina, Gaston County's OBE-based Odyssey program has been the center of controversy about school education, although the experiences of North Carolina's Johnston County show that acceptance can be gained if the program is tailored to local wishes. Educational improvement in North Carolina depends on the search for common ground among opposing viewpoints. Implications are outlined for policymakers and legislators, school board members and superintendents, and business leaders and Chamber of Commerce members. (SLD)
Descriptors: Conflict, Conservatism, Educational Change, Educational Philosophy, Educational Policy, Elementary Secondary Education, Outcome Based Education, Public Schools, Religious Cultural Groups, School Restructuring, Traditionalism
Public School Forum of North Carolina, 3739 National Dr., Suite 210, Raleigh, NC 27612 ($5.95).
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Public School Forum of North Carolina, Raleigh.
Identifiers - Location: North Carolina