Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Education for our kids: Why we are avoiding public schools.

“Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.” – Proverbs 9:10 (NLT)

To me deciding on my kids education has always been a big deal. It has weighed heavily on my heart. Believe me I’ve been all over the map on this decision, I’ve prayed about it, I’ve read about it, researched about it, talked to other parents, etc. My wife and I have talked and talked about this, praying together about this. One of the reasons this is such a big deal to me because they spend 12 years in their general education, this will help shape their souls and minds, it will influence them. To me it’s just not a natural fit not to think about this on behalf of my children. I am their father, biblically and morally I have a duty to lookout for their best interest. Choosing how their educated is absolutely within that realm.

The Bible does not specify where we are to send our kids for their education. It does lay out principles however for how we are to bring up our kids. I’ve pondered over several verses and I’ll share them later in my reasons section. Let me be clear I don’t think it’s a sin to send your kids to public school. I do think is important to ask what’s wise.

Please don’t get me wrong……this will not be a bashing of what you have chosen for your kids. There are good Christian parents who choose differently than I have for my kids. However I do have deep concerns about public schools, and I will come from my convictions and inform you why I am avoiding the public school system. Just to inform you my wife and I we’re both educated in public schools, we did benefit a lot from our education. Not to mention the fact that we are high school sweethearts.

Initially I started out with the idea that we would send our kids to public schools. I’ve heard nice things about our own local schools from good parents. My beginning thoughts on this we’re that it didn’t matter where you sent your kids to school as long as home was a solid base. There is some truth in that I think still, I see kids at a public school every day and I see a difference between kids with a solid home life and a broken home life. However slowly but surely my thoughts began to “evolve.”

I really started thinking though what my aim was for my kids? Was it just to get give them a more stable education or academic chance by giving them a stable home? Or could it be more than that? Should my kids’ education be a place where not only academics are encouraged but where God is glorified within the curriculum? Should their education be in line with the values we teach at home?

So here is the thought that really started to pull me away from secular public education. How could I compete with my children’s school that not only omits what we teach at home to our kids, but downright rejects what we teach our kids in our home? I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t compete with that. A place where my children would spend 35 hours a week learning from a curriculum devoid of our values as Christians. Here’s a bit of what I mean…..we teach creation, salvation by Jesus alone, that there is truth, and that mankind is made in the image of God. Schools teach exactly the opposite….evolution, pluralism, relativity, and naturalism.

Having said all this I can’t say we’ve closed the door completely to one avenue of education vs. the other. We are homeschooling as a trial run for preschool, we’re anxious and excited about it. We could very well one day use a public school when our kids are older. It is a dream of ours to place our kids in a private school, as we find great value in a school setting. Right now I will share a list of reasons we are choosing to avoid public school.

1    1.  One of the first verses that popped into my mind in regard to my kids education was this……. “2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)

All I can really say is that as a Christian parent I am to raise my kids differently. That includes how I educate my kids.

        2. The founder of the modern day educational system is John Dewey. He’s long since passed but he’s still very influential and is required reading still in most schools of education. He was a committed humanist, atheist, and socialist. He despised Protestant and Catholics who embraced the fundamentals of the Christian faith, as well as passing those values on to their children. Here are some of his known goals for public education in regards to children.

       1. Desensitize children into changing their values. This would be done by “unfreezing” the child’s home-taught values and standards of moral conduct.
2     2. Present the child with different moral standards and a different conception of who he/she is, where they came from, and what their purpose is on earth.
       3. Lock the child into a new set of standards and identity.

3     3. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4(ESV)

The last part of this verse led me to ask….. would sending them to public school so young be part of the way I “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” For various reasons I came to the conclusion that it would not.

4     4. I have academic concerns as well. I certainly don’t believe that all public schools are academic failures. Overall when I view the public school system I think it is safe to say that we are dumbing things down and not instilling a love for learning. Not that school should a bundle of fun all the time, but it shouldn’t be a drag all the time either. I think we are missing out on giving our kids a rich education, filled with classics, and morally uplifting stories, and things that lead to virtue.

5     5. Teachers unions really bother me. I’ve investigated the N.E.A (the largest teachers union) for a really long time. Their modern agenda is unfriendly to children, families, and our country. In my view their educational philosophies have strayed so far from what works that they contribute to the problems in schools not help. Essentially they are pro-teacher and not pro-children.

6     6. Many good people I believe would object by offering this idea….. If we take Christian kids out of school who will be the light (or witness)? It is a fair question. I can only respond with my kids aren’t missionaries they’re students in training. Think about it for a second would it be wise for a new army recruit to be thrown into the battlefield before they we’re prepared for battle? Eventually my young ones will be in various situations; my goal isn’t to shelter them, but to give them a base (or filter) in which to come from when they do have interactions in the world.

       7. What about socialization? Socialization to me is a myth often brought up by those who oppose homeschool. (like I said our aim is not to homeschool all the way through) But homeschool kids are in great positions to socialize. Clubs, sports, field trips, making friends, playing with neighbor kids, church friends etc. Not to mention it’s my experience that they respond to adults much better than their counterparts. Don’t get me wrong there are bad examples of homeschooling as well. I’ve personally seen those bad cases.

8     8.  “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NIV)

  The faith we keep in Christ isn't a compartmentalized thing. Don't get me wrong we aren't   abnormal about it. Well....maybe.....but certainly not out of touch with reality. We just don't keep our faith in a box, it impacts us in everything. Our finances, our marriage, how we discipline our kids, how we treat our friends, neighbors, strangers etc. This has to include how we educate our kids.

9. Behavior is a deep concern of mine. Teachers are dealing with a heavy load today..... They have to deal with many kids that just aren’t raised at home. Believe me I understand that all kids need correction at some point, all kids don’t do right all the time, I don’t expect that. But the products our homes are sending to schools grow more and more disrespectful to their teachers and more corrupted by a toxic culture. I’ve talked to teachers who deal with the very little to high school kids and they’ve observed the same thing. Meaning we parents cannot fill our kids with MTV,BET and the like and expect virtue to thrive in their hearts. Kids and adults alike reflect what they put in their hearts.

10. I think over time many teachers who started off with a spark become apathetic about teaching. For a variety of reasons, even good reasons, nonetheless I want my kids to have instructors (parents or school teachers) who have a hope greater than themselves in their hearts. Jesus Christ. No not that everything goes smoothly, not that there want be difficult days or teachers to work with, but that a worldview is supported which doesn’t allow for apathy to seize the day.
A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” – Luke 6:40

So there you have it friends, 10 reasons why we as parents are avoiding public schools for our kids. I think I could give more but I think isn't a need for that. We don’t think public schools are evil empires set out to destroy and we aren’t here to disrespect those that choose public school for their children. I simply wanted to express why we are choosing a different path for our young ones. At the very least I hope it gives you something to think about for your own kids. Thanks for reading.