Board Chair and moderator Gordon Haist welcomed the audience and introduced the program speaker, Peter McAllister. Gordon added that Paul Weismantel is taking over Gerry Schroeter’s job of communicating with ethics members. Isam Sakati called for applause in commendation for Gerry’s untiring devotion to the Society and his unifying force in making it a success. The enthusiastic applause confirmed the commendation.
The presentation topic was "Natural Law Versus Positive Law: Education in The Balance." Peter first defined Natural Law as the basis of individual rights and provided these examples:
Natural Law: Refers to laws of morality ascertainable through human reason
Peter then posed the major question concerning the natural law / positive law controversy in education: Does Public Education Provide “the Greatest Good for the Greatest Number?”
It can provide:
Skills-centric pedagogy achieved dominance within American public schools in the 1960s. Between 1960 and 1980 American academic scores fell rapidly.
Criticism of skill centric curriculum: 1983: "A Nation at Risk: the Imperative for Education Reform"
E. D. Hirsch: reasoning and problem solving skills cannot be developed independently of content domain
Teacher centered replaced by student centered.
- Measuring the decline in the quality of our schools
A second question, however, needs to be asked. Peter raised it as follows:
Is Public Education Consistent with Individual rights?
The Con Position:
Nathaniel Branden: A system of public education violates individual rights
U.S Supreme Court upheld state law in Maine that grants taxpayer funds to families to attend private schools in locations where the state has not established a public school.