Nancy E. Petty, pastor of Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, makes a few astonishing claims in a pro-WCPSS, pro-busing op-ed in the News & Observer.

History has shown that communities are only as strong as their commitment to the education of their young. We also know that education is about more than what is printed in textbooks. An effective educational system is dependent upon exposing our children to the diversity that exists in the real world and to teaching them healthy ways to relate to people of different economic, religious, cultural and family backgrounds.

I am surprised that Pastor Petty ignores her own religious heritage. Shouldn’t she argue that communities are only as strong as their commitment to religious belief? I am pretty sure that one could make a much stronger argument that religion, not education, was the essential factor in cultivating strong communities for thousands of years.

If Pastor Petty is using the word “education” in the proper sense of the term, then she has to admit that education is not the same as schooling. Human beings have engaged in education long before they relied upon schools to do so.

And long before the idea of an “educational system” emerged in the nineteenth century, religious communities, not governments, engaged in informal education (e.g., apprenticeship) and built schools and academies to nurture the intellectual, moral, and religious character of youth in their community. Most often, communities relied upon parents (tutors if they had the means) to educate children.

Finally, an effective educational system is dependent upon teaching kids how to read, write, speak, calculate, and think. That is why, long before we established schools for the social adjustment of youth, teachers were guided by the Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) and the Quadrivium (arithmetic, music, astronomy, geometry). The kinds of social goals (so-called diversity) that Pastor Petty notes were conceptualized by Progressives in the early 20th century.