In The Night is Dark and I am Far From Home, Jonathan Kozol writes that "The first goal and primary function of the U.S. public school is not to educate good people, but good citizens." (1). He implies that the public school has no function but to turn out people who will vote, pay their taxes, and follow the nations laws without protest. If this is so, and I believe that it is, should the philosophy of the public school system be changed to produce morally upright individuals? I believe that schools should try to produce the best people they can. Many people argue that morals should be taught at home, but that isn't good enough. Some say that good citizens make good people, but I say that that isn't the case.
Many people who believe that morals should be taught at home do not fully examine the times that we are living in. Forty years ago most children were growing up in two parent homes with stay-at-home mothers. At that time, there was ample opportunity to instill morals and ethics into children. They could be told what was right and what was wrong, instead of taking their chances and finding out for themselves. Also, there wasn't as much violence and immorality around them.
Today, however, we are living in the era of single parenthood or two income households. Many children are "latchkey kids," coming home to empty households. Mom and Dad, if they both live under the same roof, might not get home until late at night, when their children are busy with homework or friends, and they themselves are to frazzled from the day's problems to carry on a lengthy conversation any way. Beavis and Butt-head, gangsta rap, and gang leaders are all too often a kid's primary caretakers. This isn't to say that a child who grow up in a single parent family is going to grow up morally corrupt. Many, many single parents do an incredible job of raising their children to be kind, caring, compassionate adults, just as many two parent families should never be allowed near a child. Still, a back-up plan is needed. So the question remains: if parents aren't available or able, to make sure that their children grow up with a good strong moral foundation, who will?
The only answer that truly makes sense is school. For six hours a day, five days a week, 180 days a year, children are forced to spend their time in a classroom. Teachers are with their students sometimes more than the children's parents are. These adults that are entrusted with the education of our youth during their most formative years are in a position to exert a tremendous...