EMAIL ADVICE: Should Christian kids be educated in public schools?
This is an "Email Advice" post...
I often receive emails that ask for my advice. When it feels that the things the Lord gives me to say in response to these requests could be helpful for others, I post the question (anonymously) and my responses here. May God use them for His glory and the equipping of His people.
Hello Carey, been listening since I became a follower of Jesus 3 years ago. I feel like you’re close to us even though we really don’t know each other; we’ve just be listening to you so often.
I don’t get on Facebook much anymore but jumped on there this week. A Facebook friend/acquaintance I know posted opinions that no Christians should EVER allow their kids to attend public school. He’s very passionate about it.
What are your opinions about our duty to teach our children? Can I be a following Christ and yet still choose to send our kids into the public school system?
My kids are k and 1st grade. I love their teachers. Many of our church family kids go to school there so my kids have a built in community in the school and church staff work at the school.
I somewhat wanted to homeschool but ultimately we decided as a family to send them and do our best to raise them to know Christ full time in our daily walk with the lord.
I don’t want you to feel like you need to waste allot of time on this but thought I’d reach out and hear your input.
So you know some of my history on this issue… we have 5 kids and have schooled them in every conveivable way: homeschool, private Christian school, and (gasp) public schools, all with a mind to seek the Lord’s leading each year regarding each child’s needs. In the end, we did decide that homeschooling was the wisest option for us… even though my wife (who did 95% of the schooling) felt she was not “that” kind of Mom. We found ways to make it work, following an approach we refer to as “self-teaching” and our kids always scored well on tests and I believe, developed an incredible capacity to learn, take initiative, and be confident that they can figure things out, with the Lord’s help and power.
OK, that’s my background.
Your friend is right about the overall agenda and goal of the public school system in the U.S. No doubt. The teacher’s unions are not shy about their ungodly agenda(s) and neither is the current Presidential administration. It’s simply fact.
But that doesn’t mean that YOUR local school district or teachers/administrators are caving in to all those things. YOU will have to determine that for yourselves as responsible Christian parents by being engagged with your district constantly, on whatever levels you can. I’m glad you love their teachers… but get to know them even more. You need to know THEIR philosophies of education personally, so you know what to expect in their classrooms.
Your friend is also right that the influences and exposure your children’s peers exert on them is serious, potentially dangerous, and unavoidable over time. They WILL be exposed to all kinds of vulgarity, bad-attitudes-assumed-to-be-normal, and obscenity/evil… by their peers. The older they get, the worse it will become. This is ultimately the reason we decided to homeschool our kids in the end.
With both of those things said, I think that if you continue to send your kids to public school, you’ll need to take on a sort of “double duty” as parents. Not only should you continue to do the diligent things to train up your children that you described in your FB response, you’ll also need to do an almost-daily “debrief” with your kids to hear what’s going on at school, what their friends are saying/doing, what’s being taught, how they are processing it in light of your teaching at home, etc. I don’t think it’s possible for me to overstate the vital importance of this. It is exhausting, emotional and relational work, but very, very necessary. The subtle and not so subtle influence of people in positions of authority over our kids (teachers, etc.) is OUR responsibility to monitor as Christian parents. We cannot simply send our kids to ANY school (Christian schools included) and assume they are getting what they need or what is right before the Lord. WE have to run interference, so to speak, to ensure our kids are hearing the truth from us (as compared to what they are being taught) and understanding God’s heart behind it.
You should also spend as much time in the classroom(s) as you can, at least for a season. Observe the tone, manner, and content of the classroom experience. Assess all of it in light of scripture and in light of how your children are wired.
You need to do the same regarding the relationships they have with peers at school. What are they hearing from friends? What situations are their friends dealing with at home? What kind of parents do their friends have? What are THEIR struggles and besetting issues? Has anyone at school shown them things (on a phone, in a book, etc.) that they were uncomfortable with? How are they being treated (bullying, abuse, sexual improprieties, etc.)? Knowing how to talk to your kids about these issues is nuanced and challenging but the Lord gives wisdom to those who ask (James 1:5). And it’s easy to slack off on this because of the sheer volume of concerns that need to be kept on the front burner. But it can be done with Jesus’ help.
I’m never going to tell anyone (as your friend did) that ALL Christian parents should do X, Y, or Z in situations like this. That’s arrogant to say, simply because we don’t know what THE LORD wants individual followers of His to do. “To his own master he (a servant) stands or falls.” – Romans 14:4.
For example, I would never tell a Christian man that he should be OK dating a woman who is obviously immoral and unrepentant about it. But God told Hosea to MARRY a woman who fit that exact description. So I have to be humble about my strong opinions. They may be generally true but not universally applicable. In your siutation, GOD is the one who gets to tell you and your husband how to raise and educate your kids. I trust HIM to do that and encourage you to take up that responsibility with all the diligence in you. His Spirit is alongside you to help and empower you (Galatians 5:16). I know that as you seek Him, pray, maybe even fast, and come to a decision together, HE will show you what is right for your family. Then it’s up to you to OBEY what He’s shown you, for His glory and the good of your family and community.
I hope this is helpful.
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