In The Arena: on Education

School prayer is ok, but not as an Amendment

I believe children should be allowed to have a moment of silence in schools. But I do not believe an amendment allowing school prayer belongs in the Constitution. America has become a great nation in large part because we are conceived and nurtured in strong religious faith. But the real test of faith is whether it is strong enough to tolerate other faiths.

While the majority should not impose its religious views on the minority, the minority should respect the views of the majority. Reverse bigotry by the minority is just as reprehensible as bigotry by the majority. For instance, to oppose the display of Christian religious symbols in public places at Christmas time in the name of separation of church and state is both petty and silly. Christmas is not just another excuse for retailers to rake in profits. It is the celebration of Christ's birthday. Public displays commemorating the birth of Jesus are appropriate.

Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p. 99-100 Jul 2, 1990

Religious instruction in schools ok, like Marxism

Another equally acrimonious debate has raged from time to time over whether religious training belongs in public schools. My view is that it does--especially since our schools already teach students about the pseudo-religion of Marxism-Leninism. I do not share the views of some well-intentioned anti-Communists that students should not be exposed to courses on Marxism. While Marxists are atheists, Marxism is a religion. Students in a free society should be encouraged to learn about their own religious heritage without being prohibited from doing so because of the doctrine of separation of church and state. It is ludicrous to teach young people about the atheistic philosophy adhered to by our major adversaries in the world and yet be denied the opportunity to learn more about the spiritual precepts on which our own nation was founded.
Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p.100 Jul 2, 1990

Before the 60s, schools helped students become productive

In the 60s, schools became a social and cultural wasteland. Before the 60s, the job of education was to help students become productive members of society. But during the 60s, the very idea of "having jobs and families" was judged to be hopelessly banal, even corrupt. It became the job of education to mold students into culturally and politically correct citizens of some ideal world that existed only in the brain of the ideologue or theoretician.
Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p.108-109 Jul 2, 1990

Educational standards over political correctness

What should students learn instead of the politically correct education of the 60s? My views may not be the conventional wisdom, but because I feel so fortunate to have had a good education, I want to share them with others. Each student should leave 12th grade reading English at a 12th grade level or better. He should know algebra, geometry, and pre-calculus and the fundamentals of biology, chemistry, and physics. Our students' persistent weakness in these subjects is our educational system's greatest failure. A student should know the rudiments of a foreign language, be able to recognize at least a few of the great works of Western music, and understand the tenets of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and the world's other great religion, Marxism-Leninism. He should have spent some time playing a competitive sport. He should know the history of his country, and something about the history of the world.
Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p.110-111 Jul 2, 1990

Replace union politics with parental choice

Teachers will earn more respect if they begin to focus more on teaching and less on theory and politics. Teacher unions pass resolutions against funding for the contras, investigate the political and cultural content of books & TV programming, and lobby tirelessly for higher salaries & benefits. As was the case even back when I attended Whittier College 55 years ago, the excruciatingly boring courses offered to education majors still emphasize HOW to teach rather than WHAT to teach. Many teachers still worry more about their students' feelings and cultural awareness than whether they can read, write, add, or think.

Teachers have to get back to the basics--a tougher curriculum, more time in the classroom for each student, and raises for teachers based on performance as well as seniority. Without these and other measures, such as parental choice, our young people will fall so far behind that we will run the risk of entering the next century as a nation of semi-literates in a world of PhDs.

Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p.112-113 Jul 2, 1990

  • The above quotations are from In The Arena
    A Memoir of Victory, Defeat, and Renewal
    , by Richard Nixon.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Education.
  • Click here for other issues (main summary page).
  • Click here for more quotes by Richard Nixon on Education.
2012 Presidential contenders on Education:
Pres.Barack Obama(IL)
V.P.Joe Biden(DE)

Gov.Mitt Romney(MA)
Rep.Paul Ryan(WI)
Third Parties:
Green: Dr.Jill Stein(MA)
Libertarian: Gov.Gary Johnson(NM)
Justice: Mayor Rocky Anderson(UT)
Constitution: Rep.Virgil Goode(VA)
Peace+Freedom: Roseanne Barr(HI)
Reform Party: André Barnett(NY)
AmericansElect: Gov.Buddy Roemer(LA)
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Page last updated: Jan 10, 2013