Back to School: What Christian Parents Need to Know
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 50.4 million students were projected to attend public elementary and secondary schools in the United States in 2016. With numbers like that, chances are (if you’re a parent of a school-age child), your child is about to start another year of public school. You may find you have a mile-long list - getting all the supplies, new clothes, meeting the teacher, etc. – that goes along with this process every year. All the hustle and bustle is worth it, though, for the day they go off on the school bus or you drop them at the door and know you can focus on work or keeping care of the home without worrying about what they’re up to or getting into.
For many Americans, this is just the natural process. Once children are old enough for pre-k or kindergarten, they are enrolled in the public school in their area. In fact, many people pick neighborhoods to live in while being mindful of the school district in which they would fall. Some parents take their children right to the school and others wait at the bus stop to see them off as they enter the normal flow of society. After school, they ask about their class – the teacher, their classmates, what they learned – and ask about homework. As the year goes on, days get busy, and the conversation about school tends to be less exciting – simple short sentence exchanges or mentions of upcoming projects that require a run to the store. Parents may find themselves concerned about the lunch at school, the policies, whether the school performs well, bullying, and if the teacher is adequately teaching their child – after all, their education rests on the educator’s shoulders. It’s just a fact of life here in America – it’s what we do. It’s how we grew up, and that’s how our children will grow up.
If you're like I was not that long ago, you may not understand why everyone seems to be getting up in arms about the public school system. Yes, there are things about budget cuts, teacher pay, and the like. However, Christians are having a problem with the system, but not even necessarily for those reasons. It seems to be the secularization of the teaching. "But what if I can’t pay out the nose for some fancy private school like you see in movies? Clearly, they just have a more privileged view on things. But I don’t need that. Our public schools and our teachers are great!"
I had many teachers who were outspoken Christians. I went to school in an area with many Christian values. We said the pledge of allegiance. We heard about those other schools that persecute teachers for admitting being Christian, but we knew we weren’t like that. You may live in an area like this. Your child may have Christian teachers. You may go to church every time they hold a service, but school nights make it difficult so sometimes you might have to skip a Wednesday or so. And those Sunday night ones are tough to handle. Even if you are determined to make it to every service to receive spiritual teaching, you may not realize what is being sown into your child the other approximately thirty-two and a half hours a week or more.
Education! That’s what’s being given to them, right? They’re becoming smarter. But what are they being taught? You might not even think that you’re qualified to scrutinize the standard held at a government-funded school. After all, didn’t they do tons of research and have all the experts figure out what should be taught and how to teach it? Who are you to question the experts? Who are you to do anything when you don’t have a Master’s in education? Not even a Bachelor’s. In fact, the only time you were considered qualified to teach is when you volunteered to teach the nursery children for Sunday School. You don’t have any right, any qualifications, or any time to really look into what public schools are teaching.
If you think that, you’re forgetting one important thing: You are the parent. You are the one entrusted with taking care of this human being. You know your child best. God has given you the responsibility of raising your child. No matter how many degrees someone else has, they cannot replace you.
If you were to sit your child down and ask them about what they learned in school, they could probably tell you about numbers and colors, or if they were older, their projects in science and assignments in English. If you press deeper, you’ll hear about how we evolved, as if it were a basic, uncontested fact. You’ll begin to hear secular theories presented to you as if they were absolute and concrete.
They may not be able to put it into specific words now, but what they’re being pressed toward is the idea that there is no God, they have no real purpose, they are an accident, humanity is good and becoming more evolved, humans and their idea of science advance the world, and now more than ever, that social justice is the way to go. That any idea of holiness is just foolishness and self-righteousness. That helping other people is accepting and celebrating their sin. That for God to be real, He must be the same god from all other religions because we are tolerant and all are equal, and in fact, He’s just an energy that can’t be explained – if He exists at all. That there are way more than two genders, and you are whatever you feel like you are – including a potato.
If you think that because you live in a good area with good Christian teachers your child is escaping the horror stories, you’re wrong. If a teacher is teaching lessons and curriculum that, in between the lines, says there is no God, you are just an animal, this is all purely for the intellect, and then tries to slap a Jesus sticker over it, the student will go with what they’ve been taught. If students don't outright reject God, they may follow the teacher's example and try to conform God to the teaching. This leads to teachers in quiet frustration over the behavior and actions their students are exhibiting, oblivious as to how this could happen in their classroom. The public school does not allow for the teacher to deviate or to show the class how God is involved in a subject. It would be far too offensive. They would call it indoctrination and brainwashing. Teachers having crosses up in their room and acting in a Christ-like demeanor does little to nothing for the student because they are still being taught foolishness.
I appreciated my Christian teachers in school. They were nice. But all I could say was, “Oh, they’re a Christian, too. Cool.” I’m sure many teachers pray for their students, which I think is wonderful. But don’t be fooled into thinking that a Christian teacher’s mere presence in a secular classroom is going to shield the students from the onslaught of an education that screams as loud as possible to try to drown out the purpose God has for our young people.
The history textbooks read in the classrooms of public school present to the student the idea that the federal government are the "good guys" while any state resistance was ignorant. They teach of an America with no real noble history - one that we look back on with regret and shame. Everyone was class-ist and racist, greedy and selfish. It breeds the hatred for this country so easily observed in youth today. There is no pride in our country - only shame and disgust.
Regardless of the one sentence disclaimer in the science textbooks about Darwinian evolution being a theory, it is from thereon taught and tested as fact. Many other theories follow this pattern, all aligning to an atheistic view. It's no wonder that the idea that believing in God is for the simple minded and uneducated is so pervasive in our society - the "education" we herald as correct teaches that God must be rejected in order to reach true knowledge or come to factual conclusions. Students are taught not to worship God, but to worship humanity.
If the influences don’t come directly from the formal teaching, it comes from the friends and fellow students. Your child is placed side by side with other children from different walks of life. Some of which will be wholly convinced of things contrary to Biblical values. Mix the teaching of secularism and the influence of secular thought from peers, and you will get a poisonous combination that eats away at the importance of Christ in their lives if left unchecked.
No, I’m not trying to tell you that you must hold your child’s hand through every moment of their life and hide them from every bad thing that exists by keeping them in a cave until they can legally escape at 18. However, throwing your child into a system that will have them for a majority of their waking hours and teach them things contrary to the Bible is dangerous. No matter what you do, at some point, your children will have to face different views and beliefs. But should they be submerged into a system from kindergarten that takes away your authority and gives it to a teacher and a secular textbook? Should you expect your child to evangelize to their fellow students when they don’t even know who they are and every authority and peer around them glorifies man and rejects the idea of God?
Before you rush your child into the public school this year, think twice. Pray about it. A lot of people have no idea where to start or if they’re even allowed to homeschool, let alone have the time. There are private schools, online schools, hybrid schools, co-ops, and homeschool taught by you available. You do have a right to teach your children and ensure that they are truly educated. If you’re in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, True Foundation Learning Center could definitely be an option for you. Check out more about them and their approach to Biblical Classical Education and the emphasis on parent involvement in the child’s life and education here.
I’m not here to condemn those who have placed their children in public school. If you look at all the other options and this year it is impossible for you to go another route or you feel public school is still the right choice for your family, at least you are aware of the things to look out for. Be praying with your children. Be involved in what they’re learning. Point out the flaws and fallacies in thinking in their textbooks. Show them openly where there is a push to have them believe that there is no God or any other agenda that goes against God’s Word. Teach them to think critically and always go to God. Regardless of circumstance, you are responsible for the raising up of your child.