With news of President Obama’s bathroom directive sent out to public schools last week, I had a disturbing thought. Perhaps many schools and teachers will disregard the directive. However, this week, it’s very possible that in thousands of classrooms across this nation, zealously progressive teachers will read Mr. Obama’s letter to their students and encourage them that they can each decide if they feel like they are really a boy, or a girl, or neither, or something in between.
Am I the only one who remembers being a child? I believed the things my teachers said. I thought they were nice people. I reasoned that my parents sent me to school because the teachers were trusted authorities. For one of them to tell me, with a straight face, that I could really be a girl on the inside? I wouldn’t know who to trust anymore, or what was real; if anything. Maybe that’s the point.
Last year, I wrote a paper for seminary that I’d like to post (in part). It deals with the wisdom of believers sending their children, by choice, to be educated in Caesar’s schools.
The Purpose of Education
The Lord has revealed Himself to man through His Word. To each generation of His people, He has commanded that they teach the next generation His statutes (Deut. 6:6-7). Therefore, the tasks of subduing the earth and teaching all nations to observe what He has commanded have the subtasks of education and literacy as implicit.
While the Word of God is most concerned with the spiritual and moral education of children, there is also great value placed on more practical pursuits. Working well is praised in the book of Proverbs (Prov. 22:29, “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings,”). Musical theory should be studied to compose works that honor God. Understanding of grammar, logic, and rhetoric will aid the one whom God calls to preach the Gospel. The study of physics, astronomy, geology, and biology will expand our understanding of God’s universe and assist defenders of God’s Word against scoffers. All these practical pursuits are of value and should be taken up by Christians, but none are more important than spiritual education.
To whom does this great responsibility of education fall? To fathers. In God’s economy, the family is the basic unit of human civilization (Ex. 20:5, 20:12; Josh. 7:24, 22:13-14; Acts 11:14, 16:31) and the father is the authority God has ordained to be over the family (Gen. 2:15-22, 1 Tim. 2:13, 3:4). Bottom line: if a child is ignorant of the things of God and morally bankrupt, it is the failure of the father more than any other party. The father may choose to delegate the task of training and education to others, and often does. What is the course of wisdom in this delegation, if the father does not want his children to end up like wicked ones in Psalm 1, who walk and stand with sinners, and sit in the seat of scoffers?
In many ways, public school is the easiest of all options. Based upon your child’s birth date and address, the state will determine to which school district they will belong and a bright, yellow bus will come to pick them up and drop them off each day. Many parents take it as a given that the state will care for their children “free of charge” for eight hours each day. Some mothers post celebratory photos of themselves leaping with glee as their school-aged children trudge off to begin another school year. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century, public education in this country was viewed as more of a charity for the children of the extremely poor. The idea was that cities and counties could raise the money to educate the children of impoverished families along with the support and, many times, direct involvement of the church. At the time, the majority of Americans schooled their children in the home. Everything changed with the adoption of the Prussian model of education by the United States. The state school was attractive because of the social influence it could exert upon the impressionable minds of youth. Following the German lead, the first state-sponsored teacher’s college (also known as “normal school”) was opened in Boston, 1826. Commenting upon the power wielded by such an institution, James Gordon Carter writes:
An institution for this purpose would become by its influence on society, and particularly upon the young, an engine to sway the public sentiment, the public morals, and the public religion, more powerful than any other in the possession of government. (Essays Upon Popular Education)
In 1843, Horace Mann traveled to Germany to further study the innovative educational model; returning and lobbying for its adoption in Massachusetts in 1852. The tenets of this model were compulsory, standardized education with government-trained teachers to instruct according to the latest trends in educational theory. Franz de Hovre wrote of the Prussian model in 1917:
The prime fundamental of German education is that it is based on a national principle… A fundamental feature of German education: education to the State, education for the State, education by the State. The Volksschule is a direct result of a national principle aimed at a national unity. The State is the supreme end in view. (Quoted in Sheldon Richman, Separating School and State: How to Liberate America’s Families)
American leaders in education fell in love with the efficiency, order, and obedience they witnessed in Germany and desired similar virtues among the wide array of American children, increasing numbers of whom were immigrating to America from nations all over the world. These forerunners to the modern American education system saw themselves as social crusaders, saving children from the ignorance of their backwater families.
Now, 150 years later, let us consider which group is actively purveying ignorance.
As the documentary, IndoctriNation, produced by Colin Gun, relates: public schools are opening the doors to many forms of sexual deviancy. Children are led to believe their “sexual orientation” is plastic and that they may soon discover they themselves are homosexual or transgender; that this is healthy. Sources quoted in the film say, “By the time they get partway through high school, the stats will show almost half have had sex with multiple partners…” In addition, Gunn points out that many school districts have programs of passing out free condoms to students as young as elementary age, all without parental knowledge.
Gunn goes on to feature several Christians who are educators in the public school system. These are people whose consciences are tattered on a daily basis by their inability to present more than decapitated facts and figures, neglecting wisdom entirely. One principal in a public school used the illustration of a weary old dyke, springing more and more leaks. He felt that, as a Christian, he was able to use his faith and what the Bible teaches him to plug some of the holes in the dyke. The whole enterprise, he says, is futile; the foundation of the dyke is made of sand since it is not built upon the Word of God. Another educator, an elementary school teacher, relayed the deep, inner conflict she faced as she tried her best to carry out her teaching responsibilities while concealing what she knows to be true about the Source of wisdom. She confessed:
“I have never felt so ashamed as a Christian as I did standing in front of those parents and presenting to them with our plan for the school year and making them feel good about their decision to place their children in a public school…When someone is in a position of authority is telling them that the earth is hundreds of millions of years old and things that are directly against what the Bible teaches, and their parents are sending them to this place, they are learning that their parents must not really believe…the Bible must not really be the Word of God because my teacher, who I like, and who seems to be a good person, is saying otherwise…If I talk about my faith the way I want to, I know I would lose my job.” (Sarah LaVerdiere, Raleigh, NC)
This painful testimony makes it clear that the public school setting is not only void of the things of God, it is openly hostile to them. R. L. Dabney’s words were bordering on prophetic when he wrote in 1873, “Any training which attempts to be non-Christian is therefore anti-Christian.”
Perhaps the most fundamental and oft ignored question to ask is: does the government have any right to teach people’s children in the first place? The Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter XXIII outlines the role of the civil magistrate as it is taught in Scripture. The role of government is to serve the public good (read: property) for the glory of God, to punish those who do evil, and to defend and encourage them that do good. As we have discussed above, the family (and church) have the primary duty of education. The government has largely taken over this duty assigned to the family, representing a gross overreach. This intrusion on the part of government should be protested, not encouraged by Christians voluntarily enrolling their children in these institutions. As R. L. Dabney asserts, “To train a soul away from Him is robbery of God. This task is not for the state, but committed to the family and to the church.”
Any education that begins with the fear of the Lord is preferable to one that does not. A quality Christian school can provide every opportunity afforded in government schools while teaching a consistent Christian world view.
Home school in a Christian family is an inherently Christian school. Children are afforded personalized education. Due to the flexible nature of home school, parents are able to take children on field trips and educational family vacations that would only be dreamt of by other teachers. Many have levelled the charge against home school families that the children become insular and socially awkward, due to spending every day “at home”. In reality, homeschool children have the freedom to explore many interests and often interact with adults as they compete in state fairs, enter science competitions, play sports in home school leagues, participate in home school co-ops, and volunteer in all manner of charities and mercy ministry. These interactions with other families and adults socialize children far better than the mob and clique socialization of a public school setting, by way of comparison.
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If you’re still reading, chances are, you are contemplating pulling your kids out of public school. You may be concerned about any number of things, from finances to scheduling to feelings of inadequacy, but do not be stymied by these things. Your children are a heritage from the Lord not to be willingly offered up and exposed to deceit and risk of sexual assault. There are ways to educate your children outside of public schooling. Talk to your friends. Research online. Talk to your pastor. Above all, pray.