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Christians and Public Education4 min read

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I wanted to mention a couple of books that I’ve come across, books that address the responsibility of Christian parents to educate their children rather than leaving it up to the ailing public school system.  In the preface of Excused Absence: Should Christian Kids Leave Public Schools?, Douglas Wilson and Marvin Olasky (one of my favorite Christian world view writers) make the case that we should not be institutionalizing our kids in the public school system.

Although this book is a bit polemical and short on balance, it is a decent primer on how we should view the education of our children.  I am a little disappointed that it sounds a bit like indoctrination, and does not say enough about teaching critical logic skills, but I think this book is more about WHY we should not trust the public schools to educate our kids, not about HOW to home school or private school our kids, or about how to choose curriculum.

In the introduction, the authors list a few foundational principles for Christian parents, regarding the education of their children:

  1. First, neutrality is impossible in any endeavor, much less in education.  Christ is Lord of all, including the three cornerstones of all true Christian education: truth, beauty, and goodness.
  2. Second, although government schools are build on the quicksand of pragmatism (the belief that truth is what works), government schools cannot really "work" because they ignore the context for all true education (nurture and admonition).
  3. Third, the Bible requires parents to educate their children in accordance with a biblical worldview from the time they get up until the time they go to sleep.
  4. Fourth, god calls us to train our children to love Him, not only with all their heart, soul, and strength, but also with all of their mind.
  5. Fifth, there is no such thing as a free lunch, but for too long Christian parents have believed that public education is free, when the "legal tender" paid is indeed tender – their very children (i.e. just because public education is convenient doesn’t mean it’s best for our children).
  6. Sixth, Christian parents disobey God at their peril and the peril of their children by offering them to the three false gods of all government education: pragmatism, pluralism,and relativism. 

The second interesting book is The Harsh Truth About Public Schools, which is unique in that, it is  critical of the public schools, not because they lack adequate teacher preparation or salaries, but because their very design and structure is based on a weak model, which can never produce more than mediocre results by the limitations of the design.  He argues that the public school system is really only capable of institutionalizing kids, not preparing them for individual thought and efforts.  Here’s how one reviewer put it:

[The author] argues that reform efforts are futile since the system is
structured in a way that will resist any attempts to reform any thing
other than cosmetic features.

[…] Shortt points out
that the current system was modeled after the old Prussian system,
Prussian schools considered children to be the property of the state.
The state treated them that way. They were taught to be obedient to the
state and their main purpose is to advance the interests of the state.

For this goal, real education was unnecessary and even counter to
the overall intention of public schools. The author makes a strong case
that the US public schools are designed exactly in this format.

This was only the case here in the country AFTER the adoption and
evolution of the public schools to it’s current form. Many argue that
public schools are a failure. Shortt seems to present the argument that
they are accomplishing exactly what they are designed to do: mold the
children into willing consumers of the products of big business and
obedient servants of government.

Public schools are not where I want to send my kind.  Really.  They can learn all about drugs, violence, illicit sex and profanity from the TV at home (sarcasm), and they can learn all about diversity at church and in the local community and on missions trips and field trips with friends and family.