What is the purpose of education?

If asked that question today, many may say something about acquiring a good job, advancing a career or learning about the world.

But in the nascent days of our nation, education was tied to the teaching of morality and virtue and was viewed as an indispensable support for good government.

The Northwest Ordinance was adopted by the Confederation Congress in 1787 and established a government for the Northwest Territories. It affirmed that, “Religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

Additionally, Harvard University was founded in 1636 as the first institution of higher education in the United States and was established to instruct clergymen. It’s original mission statement was overtly religious:

“Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.”

Now, Harvard has hired an atheist as its new chief chaplain. He was selected unanimously.

This tie between education (pursuing what is good, true, and beautiful) and morality has largely disappeared over the last few centuries.

This was evidenced clearly in Fairfax, Virginia, where until recently, the local school district was making sexually descriptive and pornographic books available to students.

The two controversial books are Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison and Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe.

U.S. News reports that the book Gender Queer is an “illustrated memoir [that] contains explicit illustrations of oral sex and masturbation.” Lawn Boy “contains graphic descriptions of sex between men and children.”

One mom, Stacy Langton, with two children in a Fairfax high school decided that having these books available for students to read was unacceptable.

Langton spoke against the books in a Fairfax County Public Schools board meeting and did not shy away from publicly shaming the board members, graphically describing the content of the two books.

“Both of these books include pedophilia. Sex between men and boys … One book describes a fourth-grade boy performing oral sex on an adult male. The other book has detailed illustrations of a man having sex with a boy,” Langton described.

According to Fox News, school board members started calling for her to stop talking. However, “The crowd behind Langton then stood up and applauded her as she remained at the lectern and tried to finish her speech.”

Langton then told the board members that they “should be charged” for violating Virginia law and allowing minors to view pornography.

Following Langton’s speech, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) announced that the two books will be suspended immediately pending an ongoing review.

“FCPS is in the process of convening two committees made up of staff, students and parents led by our Library Services Coordinator to assess the suitability of both texts for inclusion in our high school libraries,” FCPS said in a statement.

“The recommendation of the committees will be put forward to the Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services who will make a final decision as to whether FCPS continues to provide access to these books in our high school libraries.”

It would seem to be common sense that this kind of explicit material shouldn’t be available to children and adolescents in public schools, but apparently FCPS still needs a lengthy review process to determine that.

Langton’s involvement at FCPS speaks to the importance of parents being involved in their children’s education.

If you’re worried about what your child may be learning in school, Focus on the Family is here to help. Our free new resource, “Back to School for Parents,” will help you be informed on what’s happening in schools and suggest ways you can advocate on behalf of your children.

Photo from Do Better FCPS/YouTube.