Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why Public School?

Every time I come across the statistic that about 90% of Christian parents send their children to public school, I am freshly amazed. It is mind-boggling to me that so many Christian parents willingly hand over their children to an anti-God, humanistic, state-controlled institution for seven to eight hours per day, five days per week for about nine months of the year. Because of the way our American society has evolved, it is not hard to understand why the world sends their children to public school. Our society has become one that worships the god of personal pleasure and fulfillment. By abdicating their role in teaching and training their children to the state, parents of the world can be free to pursue worldly treasure and personal pleasure.

But why do so many Christian parents fall into the public school trap? Surely they’re not concerned with building worldly treasure, or the selfish pursuit of their own personal fulfillment. So, what is it? For three years now, I’ve been wrestling with this question, and have not found a satisfactory answer. I have yet to hear a godly, biblical justification for sending the children of Christian families to public school. Certainly, Christian parents who send their children to public school have many, and varied, excuses for doing so. I’ve heard plenty of them. And, yes, there may even be a valid reason or two among them – perhaps a spouse died or left, leaving the other spouse with several children to raise alone, or perhaps there are disabilities in the family. These cases are rare, though, and cannot justify 90% of Christian parents sending their children to public school.

Maybe Christians have been duped. After all, public schools didn’t start off in the same manner we find them today. The first American public schools were not godless, humanistic state-run institutions. Indeed, “. . . back in the very early days of this republic, education was a family affair closely connected to religious practice. A nation built on biblical principles had to be a highly literate one. In addition, all of this education was achieved without any government involvement, without any centralized educational bureaucracy, without any professors of education, or accrediting agencies or teacher certification. And, most significantly, without any compulsory attendance laws.”[1]

The transition from local, common schools supported by parents and based on the Bible to large, tax-supported government-run schools based on humanism was gradual. The progressive public education movement, led by Unitarians and liberal Protestants, pushed for state-controlled education for all children. The Unitarian-led movement for secular education was based on the Unitarian belief that salvation could be found through the state, not through Christ. They had abandoned belief in the divinity of Christ and the doctrine of original sin. Instead, they looked to the state, and secular education, to rid the world of poverty, ignorance and social injustice. Slowly but surely, their liberal ideas and beliefs seeped into, and poisoned, the American school system.

Less than 100 years later, the American school system is the complete opposite, in terms of worldview, of what it once was. Where once children were required to read the Bible, they are now told the Bible is a collection of man-made myths. Where once children were allowed to openly pray, they are now criminals if they do so. Where once children were taught that God created the heavens and the earth, they are now told that they are random accidents caused by a chaotic big bang. Where once children were taught morality and sin, they are now taught tolerance and acceptance of all beliefs (except Christianity).

So, I ask again – how can Christian parents justify sending their children to public schools? Have they been duped? Only if they are wearing blinders. The change in the American school system may have been gradual, but the change is glaringly apparent now for anyone to see. And, with studies showing that 80% of children from Christian homes leave the church, first mentally beginning in middle school, then physically once they leave home, how can Christian parents not see the damage that public schools are doing to their children?[2]

The biblical mandate for Christian parents concerning the education of their children is to impress upon them the commandments of the Lord and to “. . . talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:7) How can Christian parents do this if the state has their children for more of their waking hours than the parents do? Do Christian parents really believe that a ten-minute daily devotion and a couple hours of church on Sunday are enough to overcome the daily, hours-long onslaught of anti-God, humanistic teaching that their children receive in public school?

The growth of the homeschooling movement is encouraging. It needs to continue growing. The time for Christian parents to take back the education of their children is now – later will be too late. Yes, God is sovereign and He is in control, and He will work all things out for good and His glory. However, He expects us to do the work He has commanded us to do. If God has blessed you with children, your primary work for the Lord is to “. . . bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4) This is not to be done half-heartedly, but you are to “. . . work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” (Col. 3:23) There is no earthly pursuit that can ever compare in worth or reward to the heavenly pursuit of teaching and training our children for the Lord. Let us all be diligent in doing so that we may all hear our Lord tell us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

[1] Blumenfeld, Samuel. Are Compulsory School Attendance Laws Necessary? Part 1.

[2] Source: Ham, Ken. Already Gone.

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