In part one I argued Christians parents should stop sending their kids to public schools because those schools teach an alternate religion.
When I argue this case, though, I usually get a fair amount of push-back and hear some common defenses for sending kids to public school. But do these arguments actually hold up to scrutiny?
1. My School is Different.
A veteran public school teacher from Las Vegas called in to my program Saturday, challenging the notion that all schools promote secular humanism.
Sure, some do, she said. But for decades, she said she's promoted Christianity in her classroom and has made a practice of praying with students, as well. She's also made it a practice to tell her students that she's praying to Jesus during the 30 seconds of silence that begin each day. And, during parent-teacher conferences, she said she often discusses family issues with parents and prays with them about those issues, as well. In fact, the influence of Christians is so strong at her school that the school once hosted a Christmas program where overtly-Christian, Christmas carols were sung.
"So things can change in our public school system!" she said — if only more Christians would get involved.
The problem with what this teacher described, as one of my guests noted, is that it's illegal!
Ever since the landmark Supreme Court case in 1947 that erected a "wall of separation between church and state" — and the 1962 case, which outlawed school prayer — Christianity has been officially banned from public schools. The only way to introduce a Christian worldview back into the public schools would be either to change the law or to encourage Christian teachers to violate the law. Given that the latter would violate the admonition in Romans 13 to submit to authorities, I would not recommend it as a solution. And, given that our courts increasingly are ruling against Christian liberty, and the prevailing culture is hostile to Christianity, I don't think there is any chance we will re-introduce Christianity into our schools any time soon.
2. Christians' Kids Need to Be Salt & Light.
Yes, we need to teach our children to share Christ with unbelievers. But seriously, would any of us send an undeveloped, vulnerable child into a hostile mission field?
Again, Scripture teaches parents to nurture and instruct their children, not send them as missionaries to a pagan culture. In 1 Timothy 3, we are told that leaders in the church should not be recent converts because they might fall into sin. Certainly, this same principle should apply to missionaries. Many children aren't even converts, but they certainly are not mature believers.
To me, sending children as missionaries is ludicrous. It's also not working.
According to a study by Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, 75% to 85% of public school children from Christian homes abandon their faith as adults. However, less than 10% of homeschooled children leave the faith as adults. Similarly, the Nehemiah Institute found that 80% to 85% of public school students from Christian homes have secular humanistic worldviews. But, only 3% of students attending schools that intentionally teach a Christian worldview have secular humanistic worldviews.
Clearly, how we educate our children makes a difference.
3. We Can't Afford Christian School or Homeschool.
Money, I believe, is the biggest impediment to Christian education. In fact, a Barna study found that public school is the first option for only 26% of the population. So, many send their kids to public schools out of necessity, and for no other reason. Economics is also likely a major reason why the homeschooling population is largely white. Surprisingly, though, the fastest growing segment of homeschoolers in the country is African-American. And, a significant proportion of these are single moms, showing that it can be done. But it takes an incredible amount of sacrifice, and increasingly, I believe the church needs to lend a helping hand.
However, educating our kids biblically is worth the sacrifice. Our family actually downsized several years ago, specifically so we could send our kids to Christian schools. And last year, we were actually paying twice our mortgage in our kids' tuition each month! But, nurturing our children's minds has been worth it. And, even though my husband and I are always teaching our kids at home, we have seen a huge difference in our children's worldview formation since attending Christian schools.
So, given our experience and the clear teaching of Scripture, I would send my kids to public school only if there was absolutely no other option. But, I'm a believer that God normally provides options when we earnestly seek them.