Public Education: Do Standardized Tests Measure Real Education?

As we homeschool, we continue to battle a highly ingrained system of “the right way” to do things. Since most of us were educated by the government system, part of that education consequently led us to believe that the methodologies used were the “best” if not the only way to properly educate children. Only a minimal amount of research (if one is willing to challenge the sacred cow of public education) reveals that much of the approach of government education is not only academically inferior, but meant from the beginning to “dumb down” the public.

No subject is perhaps as controversial as this one. I recently got a very heated email from a pastor’s wife “lashing” me for “the wound I inflict” on parents who send their children to public school. I’ll be honest, I felt a bit shocked simply because of where my intentions lie. Be assured…I’d rather be guilty of inflicting “the faithful wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6) than to offer a “deceitful kiss as an enemy” for the sake of being liked and avoiding strife. I don’t speak about this subject for ANY reason than to communicate what I believe is truth, the only loving thing I can see to do. There is no condemnation except what one may find in discovering the facts.

Additionally, in discussing the issue of public school, though it may seem so, I am not “against” the individuals–schools, teachers, administers–who make up the real arenas. (I’m related to many of them and love them dearly!) It’s the system–a long-standing agenda–with which I disagree. I pray you hear my heart.

I will be writing several more posts on this topic after Christmas, when we return from Colorado (Merry Christmas to you all!!)…but the following excerpt from an article in the Washington Post is a great, thought-provoking beginning to our conversation:

“A longtime friend on the school board of one of the largest school systems in America did something that few public servants are willing to do. He took versions of his state’s high-stakes standardized math and reading tests for 10th graders, and said he’d make his scores public.

“The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that’s a “D”, and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.

It seems to me something is seriously wrong. I have a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate.

“I help oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and am able to make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities.

A test that can determine a student’s future life chances should surely relate in some practical way to the requirements of life.”

When an Adult Took Standardized Tests…

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54 Responses to “Public Education: Do Standardized Tests Measure Real Education?”

  1. Amy says:

    Kelly, As soon as I read your question, I knew your answer. We all know what you will decide on this subject, without even reading your post. Nothing new here. How about a *balanced* view of the educational system, with the pros and cons of each?

    You may love teachers all you want, but they are not going to feel positively towards you when you criticize their ministry. Why is it OK to criticize teachers, but criticizing homeschoolers is “persecution”?

    As for that test, all it shows is that one adult has forgotten a lot since his school days. Have you given your kids a standardized test–and would you publish the results?

    • Word Warrior says:

      Amy,

      The answer to your question (why not a “balanced view”) is this: If you have read, studied, researched and learned FIRST HAND from educators and creators of a system the true intent and aim of said system, there is no longer a “balanced” opinion. Consider an analogy to understand where I stand…

      If I have a favorite restaurant where the food tastes good and the atmosphere is pleasant and the waiters are wonderful, I am happy. But let’s say that I got a tip that the food was being poisoned–not the drop dead kind of poison, but the slow killing of mankind. I would probably scoff at first. But then I begin to notice a steady decline in the health of the town. It was a subtle decline so that the evidence wasn’t blaring, but it was evident to someone looking. So I investigate. I go to the kitchen the the cook assures me he is only serving the food that comes from the main facility–no fault is his. So I go to the main facility and find the owner–the creator of the food. “Oh yes,” he tells me,”there’s poison in the food, but it’s not the kind that kills, just the kind that makes one dependent on the local doctors and pharmacies which is in the best interest of our town’s economy and that’s why we do it”.

      I have two choices: I can hold on to my nostalgia about what I love about the restaurant (the way they make me feel–and by the way, it’s easier to eat there than cook at home) and offer a “balanced view” of my opinions. But a normal person would not have any opinion given the new information except for a negative one and a normal person would be crazy if he pretended not to know the new information and/or share it with anyone.

      When founders of government education admit to a “poisoning” of such, I can’t but speak. I believe, generally, that the system was created to make citizens “sick” and most people don’t know that, even teachers and administrators. I. oppose. the. system.

      “Every child in America entering school at the age of five is insane because he comes to school with certain allegiances toward our founding fathers, toward our elected officials, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being, toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity. It’s up to you as teachers to make all of these sick children well, by creating the international children of the future.” Dr. C.M. Pierce of Harvard University in a speech to teachers (1973)

      And just like those sweet waiters, I don’t blame teachers or speak against them or hold ANYTHING against them…be sure you get that and don’t attempt to put words in my mouth.

    • Word Warrior says:

      To answer about the test…you basically proved the point. Perhaps he had forgotten all the irrelevant facts meant to make him look educated on a test (when in fact, he probably got most of his education in the “real world” after school) or perhaps the test is now more irrelevant than ever. Point is, (and I knew this even when I was a teacher) the test is not a complete measure of education and in some cases, little measure at all. If he doesn’t use any of that information but is considered a “success” in the business world, something is amiss. We worship the test and that was the plan all along–cookie-cutter methods for cookie-cutter tests for cookie-cutter results equals cookie-cutter, “safe” citizens. Socialism…we’re almost there.

      • Amy says:

        Actually, the test results just tell me that school standards have gotten a lot higher since that guy was in school!

        • Cayce says:

          As a former classroom teacher (thirteen years in both private and state settings), I can assure you, Kelly, that I sense no negativity from you nor a criticism of my former “ministry” at all. Nothing in your discussion is – or can be construed to be – an attack on teachers. You specifically mention your love for teachers, etc., and nothing in your following words contradicts those sentiments. I appreciate your thoughts and agree with what you say. Keep up the good work!

  2. Jackie says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, and I am a certified teacher, although I I have been homeschooling my DD for the past 6 years.

    Joyfully, Jackie
    A blogwriting mom at Quaint Scribbles who loves teaching her daughter how to combine blogging with creative writing.

  3. Kathi says:

    This was such a timely post! With one in high school, and one in junior high, I struggle with equipping my children for the future. I did well in school, but have been struggling to ‘catch up’ with everything else. I’m afraid to ‘let go’ of the public school mindset and just facilitate basic living skills over ‘educational’ material. Some examples are: How much does the average person use their knowledge of the basic cell structure vs. the chemistry of cooking/baking? How often does algebra come into play in the average day, assuming it’s not part of your job vs. budgeting for the household? I learned teamwork on the pom pon squad – how often do you think I use those ‘skills’ vs. an exercise program the whole family can not only do, but enjoy at every level and for their whole lives? Sometimes it’s hard to trust God when His message seems to be ‘against’ the public norm. This was a nice ‘affirmation’ of my desire to teach my children things many others would deem ‘unimportant’.

  4. 6 arrows says:

    Your post reminded me of something I recently read by a former public school teacher who had this to say about the system:

    “Public schools cannot be redeemed. Saying we should not abandon them is like saying the passengers of the Titanic should have stayed aboard because the band was playing good music and the captain was a good man.”

    Thanks for this post, Kelly. I also liked your restaurant analogy in your response to Amy. Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on education, a very interesting topic for me as I’ve experienced virtually every type of education there is: public, religious, and homeschooling, as a student, a teacher, and a parent.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, and I’ll be praying for safe travels for you all to and from Colorado!

  5. Mrs. S says:

    Great post! After attending and working at various public schools I don’t know why people are in love with them.

  6. Laura says:

    There are quite a few other options besides just public school or homeschool. And it about which is the right choice for your family. We don’t “school wars” any more than we need “mommy wars”. It is not a fight and it is not a competition. Everyone research their options and decide which one bests suits your needs and fits into your life.

    • Amy says:

      Bravo! We certainly don’t want any wars of any kind, particularly not in this season of joy.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Laura,

      Rest assured, I don’t want to “start a war”. But if there’s anything I hope is clear, it’s my intention and my passion about this subject. I believe the problems with the government school system play a monumental role in a mountain of problems we experience as a society. I don’t think there’s anything “neutral” or harmless about our choices to educate. If most parents were truly researching and making informed decisions about education perhaps there wouldn’t be such a need to talk about it. Most do not know the history of education. Period. And if they did, there would be a lot more parents pulling their kids out. Granted, some parents aren’t concerned about a mass engineering of citizens to create a socialistic society, stifling the individual’s potential, but I am. And as a Christian parent, I’m doubly concerned that we are letting the state mentor, counsel and raise our children to deny the very Creator, neglecting our responsibility to “raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

      Now, if in my deep love for parents, children and families I “cause a war”, I am sorry. But just like the restaurant analogy, I would be insane to believe something was harmful and not attempt to inform others about it. (I’ve also used Dave Ramsey as an example…he teaches what *seems* obvious; i.e. “don’t spend more money than you make” because he cares for people. Sometimes he offends by that truth but that’s not a reason for him to just remain quiet.) Does that make sense?

      • Laura says:

        There are about 125,000 elementary and secondary schools in the US. It is not as simple as public schools = evil and home school= good.

        Whatever the first schools were like in the 17th century in the this country doesn’t really give me a clear picture of what my local school is like. So no, the history of American public education doesn’t weigh into my decision. Because, if you look around, this isn’t anything like the 1600s.

        And no, I don’t think your restaurant analogy is good at all. One has to look at the school their children will be attending, instead of making a sweeping statement about 125,000+ schools.

        You want to make something easy that just isn’t. It is complicated. There is not one right answer, only the best option for your family. And there are other options besides home school or public school.

        • Word Warrior says:

          Just hang in there with me, Laura, in this discussion. This goes far deeper than comparing schools of the 1600’s from your local schools. It is certainly each parent’s decision and each one must do what is best for his child. But our children deserve that we do a thorough and complete examination of the topic or we can’t give them our best decision. At least consider all the information and make a real, educated choice.

          While you’re waiting…http://4brevard.com/choice/Public_Education.htm

  7. cheryl says:

    Thank you Kelly, for standing true to your beliefs. I have three children at home and 3 in public school. I am terrified of not being able to handle the job of homeschooling them all, which is the only reason they are in public school. I appreciate your encouragement and also light on the subject

  8. The “wound you inflict” is indeed the wound of a friend. This is an issue that noone wants to take a firm stand on. I am so VERY thankful that you do, Kelly! Your restaurant analogy and your response in the comments encouraged me just as much as the post did.

    Have a wonderful Christmas in snowy Colorado! Ah, to have a an actual white Christmas 🙂

  9. Janine says:

    Just a thought on the way to do ‘school’ mindset… read When You Rise Up by RC Sproul Jr. Very Very Very good discussion on what education really is and how we are all infected with the world’s ideas to some degree or another.

  10. Natalie says:

    I admire your bravery in “stirring up” these stagnant waters. All through history those who challenge the status quo in order to bring greater joy and peace to this world are reviled and despised. You are in good company with a handful of heroes. Your graciousness in the face of anger and accusation is a testimony to the Grace and Power of the Lord Jesus Christ at work in your life. I always know I’m going to get mature, reasonable logic steeped, not only in REAL love…but in the Word of God over here at Generation Cedar. I’m praying that you will be encouraged and filled with peace and hope in the days ahead. YOU ARE A TREASURE TO GOD.

  11. Jordin says:

    Kelly, I read the link (Gatto) that you gave to a previous commenter. I had goosebumps the entire time. Some of the phrases that he used were the very ones my public school teachers used (especially the terms procedures and management–I was sick of those words by the time I graduated from high school!). It sure didn’t seem like it at the time, but looking back (and not too far back–I graduated from high school seven years ago), I went to an “institution,” not a feel-good-nostalgic-all-American school. It seemed like that at the time, but since I’ve been researching public schools for the last couple of years, I SEE IT!

    The paragraphs following the subtitle, “The secret of American schooling is that it doesn’t teach the way children learn” are the places in the speech where I just wanted to shout, “YES! That’s EXACTLY how it was!” And now that I’m researching giving my young children a true *education* by teaching them at home, I see how much I didn’t learn. And the things I thought were so wonderful that I DID learn were 1) of absolutely NO significance to my real life now, even as a teacher in a Christian school, and 2) threatening to my relationship with Christ. While I might have had a few moments of positive learning, most of it was busy-work that was used to “manage” the classroom and maintain control. Most of the time, even in honors and AP classes, some students were held back–not because the other kids were slow learners, but because they simply didn’t turn their work in or were absent for a test, so the teacher couldn’t “go over” homework or a test until everyone had completed it. OR, students’ behavior was so poor that the teacher simply couldn’t teach. So much wasted time. I feel like most of my “schooling” was spent wasting my time. I know that I’ve pinpointed struggles in my own life that were created–I have no doubt–by the public school system. I’ve had to work hard to erase that mentality.

    In light of what some of the other commenters have said, my school wasn’t just one of the thousands that was clearly “government run” (although it was, of course). It was the huge high school in our small town that my parents and their parents went to. School pride ran deep; our football team won state championships; everyone in the town had the booster club sticker; academic “awards” were given, etc. On the outside, it wasn’t the scary government-run institution that comes to mind when we read articles like Kelly’s. But it was. I see it now–it really was! The teachers, I’m almost sure, had no idea that they were a part of this dumbing-down system, because they, too, were taught by the system. Sometimes I would hear a few teachers complain about the “pointlessness” of certain routines, having to “teach to the test”, and being babysitters rather than teachers. The whole place was run by fear–fear of the class getting out of control, not meeting test standards, etc. We, like most public high schools, had police officers, metal detectors, and saw more than one student get arrested during our four years. We had bomb threats, lock-downs, etc. Keep in mind, this is an award-winning school. A typical, American high school. I think it actually won an “All-American” award. 😉

    Since researching homeschooling, I’ve seen the benefits for Christian families, and how good it is for these kids to escape the “brainwashing” of public schools (because it really is brainwashing–and often, public-schooled parents are so brainwashed themselves that they have to be slapped silly in order to see it. I know this from my own experience. 😉

    Sorry to ramble on, but it has just become so clear. Please don’t think that you have a “good” public school because you know most of the students and you go to church with some of the teachers and the principal. I’m sure that a few minutes spent with them, asking a few simple questions, will reveal what’s really going on inside that school building.

    • Well said Jordin. I live in a small town with an All American school. I go to church with Principals and public school teachers. it all looks good but when you get to talking to the teachers that got out of the system and are now stay at home Moms teaching their own children… then you begin hearing the truth. It’s the story about the naked emperor.

  12. Holly says:

    Your restaurant analogy doesn’t quite do it for me, either.

    The whole world is “poisoned” and has been since the fall. Sin may seem more prevalent in the public spectre, but it’s also in our homes, our churches, and will tempt our children whether they go to a public school or not.

    I belong to a Mothers-in-Touch group, and we meet once a week to pray for our kids as they’re in school. We are involved in our local PTA’s, maintain relationships with their teachers, and minister to the other families, many non-Christian, who are involved in our schools.

    My kids teachers are individuals. They are not part of some mass conspiracy. While Christian curriculum writers DO write with a very specific agenda (7-day creation, etc.), there’s not one public school dictator out there making sure each piece of public school curriculum embraces tolerance of all religions and sexual orientations.

    And if one teacher does try to push a relativistic world view, SO WHAT? Kids are smart. Study after study shows that parents are the MOST IMPORTANT influence in a child’s life. Kids who have parents who care are going to cling to their parents’ values, not their teachers’.

    We see the public school as a ministry. Sure, public schools as a whole cannot be redeemed- but God didn’t come to redeem the “public school system.”. He came to redeem individual hearts.

    My son’s class had an assignment: draw a picture about Christmas. He drew a picture of the nativity scene with a cross in the background. When he got to school, he told his entire class that Jesus was the reason for Christmas, that he came to earth because he loved us and wanted us to know home so we could go to heaven. The amazing thing- I never told him he had to be a little evangelical in school. He did it all on his own, because it was in his heart. It’s who he is. He’s six.

    I like Gatto. I’ve read one of his books. I think the Industrial Revolution really DID mess a lot of stuff up. (How much is diet linked to learning disabled kids? Processed foods loaded with chemicals and sugar from factories? One wonders.) I also think he’s a bit of a conspiracy theorist.

    But we can’t go back. American society is never going to return to an era where every woman is able to stay at home with her kids. And if a family can’t afford to live on one income, they certainly can’t afford to send their kid to a private school.

    Now, I will freely admit that a homeschool education is almost always superior (when done by competent parents) to a public education. More personalized attention, more time devoted to biblical study, more in depth study of subjects, less stress overall, all of those things. If my husband was supportive of my desire to homeschool (he’s not), I probably would be homeschooling.

    But homeschoolers rarely have the opportunity to share the gospel with a classroom full of non-Christians, including a teacher and an aid. And that is an opportunity I am eternally thankful for.

    I enjoyed this post on the subject, too:
    http://teachwithjoy.com/2011/04/homeschooling-is-not-one-of-the-10-commandments/

    • Word Warrior says:

      Holly,

      The restaurant analogy wasn’t meant to be a perfect comparison, but more to demonstrate how I can be against something on a corporate level even though the local workers are “dishing it”.

      There are about five different categories of discussion within your comment, and impossible to really address them fully.

      From a Christian standpoint, the argument is perhaps the most simple: “sin being prevalent” in the world has nothing to do with our responsibility to disciple our children (or choose who disciples them) in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Discipleship requires a lot of time during the day (Deut. 6) But it also requires that anyone under whom we would willingly submit our children for counsel, teaching and mentoring must be teaching our children in the fear of the Lord, something even a Christian public school teacher can’t do.

      Because “the system” is corrupt in its basic denial of God as Creator, it becomes the “corrupt teacher” of our children. That is gravely different than just living in the presence of a sinful world.

      The other points would take a book here, and I’ll be addressing most of it in later posts. For now, I simply ask, does it bother you that founders of American education *admittedly* built the system as a “social engineering tool”? (Not to “educate the poor” as some would believe. If they wanted to simply help us educate our children, they would provide “tutoring subsidies”–much like food stamps instead of ‘government grocery stores’–as fact states tutoring to be a superb form of education).

      Does it bother you that humanism is a religion and the proponents of government education plainly document this as the religion being taught (though they are careful not to call it such)? Does it bother you that a quick glance across America’s social landscape would confirm much of what these founders proposed government education would do, and the decline continues? (I’m talking here of subversion of parental control and authority over their children, socialism becoming the political flavor of our country, the “dumbing down” of the masses, the unnatural fear and control of the corporate world, created, without our realizing it, by a very calculated method…and on I could go.

      You can hope for “conspiracy theory”, but when so much is written in black and white (have you researched and decided the actual documents are bunk?) it is more frightful to me that you would deny it.

      Speaking (since you can’t hear me ;-)) with softness and love, concerned only for rightly dividing the word of truth for our children’s sake.

    • 6 arrows says:

      Holly,

      You said, “And if one teacher does try to push a relativistic world view, SO WHAT?”

      Maybe I’m misreading your meaning, but it sounds like you don’t think one teacher with a different world view than yours is going to have much of a negative influence on your children. One teacher can make a HUGE impact, and not always for the better, and frequently that influence can carry itself far beyond the school years.

      I will never forget the reaction by my high school sociology teacher after one of the boys in our class had committed suicide. The first day of class after he had killed himself, the teacher just GUSHED about how AWESOME (she actually used that word) it was that the young man had such a clear sense of who he was, what he needed, what his goals were, blah blah blah, and the courage and conviction to carry them out. You could see, with her starry-eyed look and slow, breathless voice speaking her words of praise for him, how impressed she was with his awareness and “self-realization.”

      I’ve been out of high school 31 years, and I still remember that day like it was yesterday. How many students in the years she’s been a teacher (she wasn’t anywhere near retirement age then) have heard that story about the “courageous” young man and his “awesome” deed? What impact can hearing praise for suicide have on the thinking of a person who is troubled about things in life and has a weak or non-existent relationship with Jesus?

      You may think that’s an extreme example, but the fact is, when you drop your kids off at the school door, there are going to be a lot of ideas planted in their impressionable minds that may not be consistent with what you are teaching them. You WILL NOT KNOW all the seeds that are being planted and how often they’re being watered before they burst into fruit you may not have been expecting. There are too many teachers, too many students, too many competing world views for parents to counteract them all, or even KNOW what their kids are being introduced to. And it’s hard for me to see how parents can have TIME to sufficiently impress their own worldview on their children when school and school-related activity takes up most of their waking hours per day, days per week, weeks per year, and years of their pre-adult lives.

      Holly, I am glad you are praying for your kids, but please don’t have a “so what” attitude about any aspect of their schooling. There is far too much at stake.

      • Holly says:

        I reiterate that parents are the greatest influence in their children’s life, and that going to a public school doesn’t change that. While it is my job to train my children in the ways of Christ, I ultimately do not have control over whether or not my child chooses salvation. While there are many good reasons to choose homeschooling, ensuring the salvation of my child is not one of them.

        The very reasons parents want to protect their children from schools (they are still innocent and impressionable) are some of the very same reasons children are beacons of light in schools. A gymnast succeed when she is trained from a young age, because it is when she is young that her lack of fear (suddenly prevalent in teens and young adults) help accomplish incredible athletic feats. A young child boldly proclaims the gospel to her classmates thanks to that same fearlessness.

        I believe that choosing to homeschool, go to public school, or private school is intensely specific to each family,each individual child, and that the choice is a product of liberty as defined in Romans.

        Criticizing a person’s decision to put their kids in public schools only divides the church. I put my kids onto the big yellow bus Monday through Friday. I wash them with prayers. I volunteer in their classes. I communicate with their teachers via phone/ e-mail, and let their teachers know I am praying for them. So far, each teacher has said they really appreciated it. As a family, we participate in Good News Club. I foster lines of open communication. When my six-year old came out and told me the girls in his class were calling him “sexy,” I honestly laughed. We talked about why that word was not appropriate for a non-married six-year old to use, and then prayed. I am training them. I am training them to carry the gospel into the darkness; I am training them to guard their hearts and mind against sin. Public school can be a training ground too, when the Christian parent is involved.

        If David could kill a giant with a slingshot, I know God can equip my kids to handle the public school system.

        What do you say to the single mom who has no choice but to send her kids to public school? To the mom who’d love to homeschool, but whose husband doesn’t support the idea? To the family who has to bring in two incomes? “Sorry, but because of your sinful choices, your child is now going to be a government drone who clings to a humanistic philosophy of life.”

        I really am curious as to what you would say to these families…

        • 6 arrows says:

          Holly,

          My response to you is below at #15. (I put my comment down along the left margin because of its length.) Sorry…brevity is not my forte 😉

        • Word Warrior says:

          You said, “While it is my job to train my children in the ways of Christ, I ultimately do not have control over whether or not my child chooses salvation.”

          Our responsibility to disciple the children God gives us has nothing to do with the fact that we don’t “have control over their salvation”. Discipleship, just like the example our Lord gave, is a daily “walking beside”. Someone/something disciples our children; but it is with whom or what they spend the most time. “A student, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher.” From Luke 6:40

          Ponder even one verse: “Blessed is the man who walks NOT in the counsel of the ungodly”. Even if a teacher is godly, the curriculum, agenda, and “religion” of the state is not. We cannot simultaneously submit our children to the “counsel” of an ungodly system and still be in obedience to making sure he does NOT walk in said counsel. (it’s even confusing to say it.)

          They are no more ready to be evangelists than they are firemen. It is our job to get them ready. “A companion of fools suffers harm”. Children need to “walk with the wise” to become wise. As we walk with them, there is sin all around us and we have opportunity to show them what God’s Word says about how we are to react, respond and live in a fallen world.

          The Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. From this truth alone, to attempt to educate children apart from the fear of the Lord is to “lie” to them; to give them a false education and worse, a false worldview (which is why many Christian parents hold a false worldview and thus don’t see the problem being discussed here).

          You MUST understand the difference between “criticizing someone” (“dividing the church”) and doing our duty to exhort our bretheren when we perceive danger. We can’t seek to divide the church, but if we refrain from speaking on any matter simply because it *may* divide or cause controversy, we gravely misunderstand Scripture. (“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”) When there is error (and I believe this is one place where there is), we are obligated to speak, regardless of division. My only prayer is that the hearers aren’t as offended as they are passionate about searching for God’s will and being open to thoroughly submit this area to His leading.

          I know single moms who homeschool. It is as 6 arrows said. When “the church” realizes the gravity of this issue (and most don’t), they (starting with family, extended and otherwise) will do their job to make sure all are equipped to be able to disciple their children and give them a Christian education.

          If it’s OK, I may use some of your points in the upcoming posts. Praying this day for you, my friend, that you don’t see judgement in my words.

          • Holly says:

            Kelly- you do not sound snippy. You sound passionate about what you believe in, as am I. To answer your latest response:

            If you believe sending kids off to the local public school is allowing them “walk in the counsel of the ungodly,” then you are criticizing parents who choose to “do so.”

            Kelly, I’m a copywriter. I charge $25- $70 an hour. The problem with home-based businesses is that the proprietor of a home-based business is constantly working to drum up new clients. If I was a single-income parent and I worked 40 hours a week, AT LEAST a quarter of that time would be spent seeking out new clients. That averages to about 50,000 a year. As you know, working from home does not come with the perks of working for a corporation. I would be in charge of my own health insurance for four kids, homeschool curriculum, gas, groceries, rent/ mortgage, tithe, IRA, utilities, etc. Sure, I could pawn my kids off on another Christian family while I worked, but that doesn’t quite follow the Deuteronomy verse either. I could go on with all of the problems with a mom working full time to provide for all the needs of her family, but it could get quite lengthy.

            If we’re going to anecdotal evidence in our debate, I must tell you that as a former English teacher in the public schools, I have taken education classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. (One a Christian institution, one a secular institution.) We certainly discussed different learning styles, but our professors never encouraged us to change a student’s personal values through cognitive and affective behaviors. I’m a relatively intelligent person. I have not been brainwashed into indoctrinating young minds with the government’s hidden agenda.

            You are glossing over a million different factors. Some public schools are notably safer than others, expect higher standards from their kids, have better resources than other schools, a smaller teacher-to-student ratio, etc. You speak of the “system’s” agenda to conform children into little humanist socialists. Then you tell me that I don’t have enough time to combat the unbiblical values my kids are learning in school.

            That’s simply not true. When you say that, you minimize the power of God, and you minimize my influence as a parent.

            By saying homeschooling is the only biblical way to educate your child, you insinuate that not doing so is “sending your child to the fires of hell.” (I refer to the verse advocates of corporal punishment use to justify spanking as opposed to “time-outs.” “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
            Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” – Proverbs 23:13-14)

            Therefore, if you do homeschool, your child will have a greater chance of being saved. Inversely, sending your kid to public school is a “gamble.”

            I don’t think I made myself clear about children and evangelism. I don’t send my kids out to school for the purpose of evangelism; they end up becoming God’s ambassadors naturally, thanks to their innocent and bold spirit. I did say that public schools were a good training field. To refer to your fireman analogy- doesn’t the future fireman run numerous drills, real-life scenarios, before tackling his first fire? When my child is in school, I am his advocate: I discuss with him what he’s learning, I oversee a lot of what happens in school. Someday, I will release him into the world and I will no longer have the privilege of helping through the many obstacles in life. In some respects, a child who goes through public school will be MORE prepared for life than the homeschooled child who was protected. Again, I’m not knocking homeschooling AT ALL. I have the utmost respect for all of you who homeschool.

            The reason I am so interested is because my own church is divided this way. Homeschoolers vs. Public schoolers.

            There is no biblical basis for this. There just isn’t. How we train our children is a matter of liberty, so long as we are doing it to please God.

            Remember that the pagan government Paul wrote about was no better than ours. Yet Paul wrote:

            1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
            6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

            Thankfully, our government gives us the right to have a great deal of freedom over the education of our own children. When suddenly the government takes away your right to homeschool, and takes away my right to advocate for my child and influence the system to the best of my ability, then we can talk again.

            “I’m not against homeschooling, but I’ll tell you that sometimes home school networks are Petri dishes for legalism, self-righteousness, judgmentalism, sectarianism, and all kinds of other isms… right? It’s religion at its worst.” Mark Driscoll

            God bless you and yours. Your house is coming along beautifully; I pray you will all be able to fellowship there together as a family soon.

            • 6 arrows says:

              Holly, I know your comment above was intended for Kelly (although some of the things you referred to sounded more like things I had said, rather than Kelly), but there is one particular phrase that really bothers me, for reasons I can’t quite explain. You were outlining a hypothetical situation where, in your words, you were “a single-income parent”. Within that context you later said, “Sure, I could pawn my kids off on another Christian family while I worked…”

              Honestly, Holly, those words “pawn my kids off on another Christian family” are disturbing to me. Is that a reference to the example I gave in comment #15 about the single homeschooling dad I know, or Kelly’s reference to single homeschooling moms she knows, and how Christian families minister to them? I would appreciate if you would clarify what you mean by the notion of pawning off kids to Christian families.

              • Holly says:

                It wasn’t a reference to anyone. I pawn my kids off all the time AND send them to public school. I think you’re being too sensitive. I have nothing but admiration for people who can homeschool and work. I just honestly couldn’t feesably (sp?) make it happen if I were single.

                • 6 arrows says:

                  The reason I asked for clarification was because I didn’t understand your meaning of “pawn [your] kids off on another Christian family.” I thought you might be saying that that would burden Christian families or something like that, but since I didn’t know for sure what you meant, I thought I would ask before launching into examples I’ve seen of people who joyfully bear the burdens of their fellow men.

                  You think I’m being too sensitive. Well, you’re entitled to think that. Four of my friends died this year, two from cancer and two unexpectedly, one as recently as last week. So I’m sensitive, I’ll admit it. When you start talking about pawning your kids off on another Christian family…well, I’ve seen HUGE numbers of Christian families cheerfully and tirelessly serving families in their time of need. It’s what Christians are meant to do. If you don’t know people like that, pray that you will meet some, who can and certainly will minister to you in ways the Lord equips them if you ever find yourself being a single parent or in any other difficult situation.

                  Sorry for the rant 😉 I’m bowing out of the conversation now to prepare for our Christmas celebrations this weekend. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

            • Word Warrior says:

              I’m dropping in from Amarillo, TX as we sit on the verge of being stranded (snow) from our destination :-/

              I appreciate your respectful conversation. I will not waste anymore of either of our time here. I hope you’ll stay tuned to some of my upcoming posts. And I hope you’ll continue to seek Him.

  13. AbbysMom says:

    May I provide a somewhat different perspective?

    (1) I actually took the two tests on the web link you provided. As an aging baby boomer I graduated from a small public high school (~500 students) in 1972, which has since more than tripled in size.

    I got 7/7 on the reading test (which I actually thought was more about interpreting poetry than reading comprehension). If the test included questions like understanding passages from material like how to register to vote, the manual for taking a driver’s license exam, highlights in American history, or the like, I think it could have been a useful test.

    I got 5/7 on the math test, but my math has been limited to basic math and some formulas (such as amortizing a mortgage or calculating a weighted average using Excel) for many, many years), and probably could have gotten one more right if I’d looked the question more carefully, a lot of the questions weren’t especially relevant, but the ones about reading graphs and charts certainly were for everyone and the principles behind some of the others could be too in some circumstances, IMHO. How can anyone consider him/herself literate without being able to interpret graphs and charts in newspapers and magazines or in advertising for that matter?

    (2) I know I’m judging from a small sample but three of my husband’s sisters and one of their husbands either are or have been public school teachers. All are/were highly dedicated to their work; none taught in inner-city schools but they have taught in urban school districts, with difficult principals, and taught difficult subjects, including special education of emotionally disturbed middle school students.

    (3) Every one of my thirteen nieces and nephews are products of the Wisconsin public schools (although I don’t live in that state any longer). They have been educated in schools located everywhere from school districts in a small northern Wisconsin city that is on the skids to an affluent Milwaukee suburb and about everything else in between. All are fine young adults who received good educations. Every one of them have completed or are enrolled in higher education programs (4-year university or 2-year community college) suitable to their interests and talents, except for one nephew who is not capable of succeeding in post-high school education.

    Bottom line — I fully support the decision of parents to home-school their children, use an electronic curriculum provided by a school district to keep their children at home and be more involved in their learning without all that is involved in homeschooling, attend a charter school, or a Christian school of the denomination of their choice. However, I think there are good, average, bad, and even a few great public schools, and it is inaccurate to paint them all with a broad brush.

    Just my $5.00 🙂

    • Word Warrior says:

      Thank you, AbbysMom. I agree that looking on the surface it is easy to deduct “good, bad, average”. But to me it goes much deeper. For one, even the definition of “education” is largely created by the system. So, a child could be brilliant in some area and rotten at math, but if he doesn’t fit the mold of the test, he is labeled and likely to do poorly because he doesn’t conform. And that is secondary.

      I’m talking here about roots, subtle “conformists” agendas, a slow progression toward socialism/communism (yes, our model was based on those impressed by Prussia’s model), a growing resentment toward parental authority, an embracing of a humanistic religion–not necessarily manifested in each singular child, but certainly across the board.

      That doesn’t touch the constitutional flaw of forcing every citizen to pay for this education and compulsory attendance laws. I’m only scratching the surface with each of these “problems” and as I’ve encouraged others, I believe until you have really studied some of this documentation it’s difficult to believe (goes back to the “sacred cow thing”).

      From a Christian perspective, I refer back to my answer to Holly. There are so many things “wrong” it’s difficult to nail them all down in a conversation. I was educated in public school too and though I suffered in a lot of ways, I don’t consider myself to have become a victim (or else I probably would be arguing in favor!) but I certainly still believe in the foundational flaws.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Out of curiosity, did you read the article by Gatto and/or have you read any of his other material?

      • AbbysMom says:

        I have read some of Gatto’s work in the past, but nothing lately. He did make some good points, but it didn’t convince me that the public school system is beyond hope. I will followup and read the article you recommended, but maybe not before Christmas 😉

        I don’t recall anyone among my siblings, my husband’s siblings, or anything they’ve said about the education their children that resembles like what Gatto describes, but I’m sure of what he writes about does happen.

        On the other hand, most of my siblings and my husband’s siblings with children are parents who took an active role in their children’s education — volunteering in school, active in the PTO, one heavily involved in a Parent Support Group for parents of kindergartners…you get the picture. Parental involvement doesn’t solve everything but it can help parents get a read about what’s going on in school, show their kids how important education is, and hold teachers accountable.

  14. Word Warrior says:

    “The evidence points out convincingly to the fact that age is a factor operating against attempts to effect a complete or thorough-going reorganization of attitudes and values. (Taxonomy, p. 85) The evidence collected thus far suggests that a single hour of classroom activity under certain conditions may bring about a major reorganization in cognitive as well as affective (attitudes, values and beliefs) behaviors.” (Taxonomy, page 88)

    Bloom also said the purpose of education was to “change the thoughts, actions and feelings of students” (All Our Children Learning, 1982) and defined good teaching as “challenging the students’ fixed beliefs.” (Taxonomy, page 55) Professor Benjamin Bloom, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

  15. 6 arrows says:

    Thank you for your response, Holly (at Dec. 21, 12:57 pm above.) I would like to comment on a few things you mentioned in that post. Paragraph 1: “…parents are the greatest influence in their children’s life…” Ideally, yes. In reality: not always. Example: both of my parents have been Christians their whole lives. They took my four siblings and me to church every week, had family devotions every night, sent us to Christian school for most or all of our school years before public senior high. And yet, on one of the most important decisions a young adult can make, who to marry, I was the only one of my parents’ five children who married a committed Christian. The whole dating scene we witnessed in high school, on television, in church youth group, etc. turned out to be a much more powerful influence on my siblings than my parents’ example was. It just wasn’t that important to my siblings to seek out a godly mate (a decision that can have lifelong implications), even though they grew up in a home with committed Christians for parents. In short, Holly, we WANT parents to be the greatest influence in their children’s lives, but counter-influences too often override those good intentions. We must be very careful about which influences and how much exposure to them we allow.

    Also in your first paragraph, regarding choosing/ensuring salvation: I don’t know of any homeschooling parents who claim that they or their children can ensure or choose salvation through the vehicle of homeschooling or any other way. I’m not sure why you included that comment, as I was not saying anything about salvation in my original comment.

    Paragraph 2 (regarding children being a light in the schools): I taught school (every grade, as a K-12 music teacher) for several years, and I never saw a child being “a light” to his/her classmates at any age. Doesn’t mean there wasn’t any Christian witnessing going on, just that it wasn’t very prevalent. I did have a fifth grade student announce to the class, though, in 1992 that if she had been old enough to vote, she “would vote for Ross Perot because he supports a woman’s right to choose.” And yes, she knew what that meant. So there definitely is “witnessing” going on in schools, just not always the kind you and I might have expected.

    A brief aside here: my apologies if I have sounded snippy in my tone at any time in this discussion so far, either in this comment or my previous ones. It’s not my intention 😉

    Regarding your paragraph 4 statement about criticizing a person’s decision about schooling: I’m not criticizing anyone for their educational choices. It’s not my decision to make. I’m simply trying to communicate some dangers I have seen that I think are important for Christian parents such as yourself to consider. Things are not always as they seem, even when we’re actively involved in our children’s outside schooling. I’ve heard teacher lounge talk before, and while there are many loving and caring teachers and staff in the schools (as you have also seen), there are others who will sweetly tell parents what they want to hear, then turn around and vilify those same parents, especially the ones who are “involved”, read: “interfering” with the teacher’s goals. I’m not saying this is the norm; at least it wasn’t when I was teaching. But it does happen. I’m concerned for parents, that they not assume that things are good just because all they’ve heard (or even seen when visiting classrooms) are good things about their children’s school experience. That may sound pessimistic, but in light of the things Kelly has posted about the origins of public schooling and some of the experiences I myself have had in those schools, I think it’s prudent to voice one’s concerns on the issue.

    As far as your questions at the end of your post, Holly, I would try to give parents in difficult circumstances hope that homeschooling may be possible in all of those situations. Single mom? I’ve known two single dads who have/are homeschooling. In the case of the one currently homeschooling, his daughter is at the home of another homeschool family while he’s at work. He oversees her education, and members of the Body of Christ step up to minister to his daughter in his absence. It’s a beautiful thing and very doable. I think Vision Forum also has ideas/products along the lines of how the Body of Christ can assist single parents in homeschooling.

    Regarding moms who want to homeschool, but their husbands don’t: I believe in a wife’s submitting to her husband (unless the husband is asking or doing something illegal/unethical, etc.) However, that doesn’t mean a mom can’t communicate her wishes about homeschooling to her husband, and engage in much prayer on the subject. I would encourage her that God can and does open doors we may think might never open.

    Last, you asked about families needing two incomes. Is a work-from-home option available? A home business? How about the parents working different shifts from each other so one or the other is at home most or all of the time? My neighbors have successfully homeschooled their children while working different shifts. Homeschooling and being a 2-income family are not imcompatible. These are some of the things I would encourage families to look into.

    Thank you for your patience in reading this looong post, Holly 🙂 Blessings to you and your family.

  16. Kelly L says:

    Wow! Great post. I do home school because I believe that is the best. If I didn’t, I’d be a fool doing what I didn’t believe in.

    There are so many points, but I recently had a discussion with my parents, both high school teachers at a charter school. One in English, the other in Physics/Engineering. My daughter has been drawing designs of clothes since she was 5, now at 11, it is clear this is her passion and a part of her future. My dad suggested I send her to a particular magnet school in the city that offers a program in that. My mom’s response? “Knowing what we know, how could you ever suggest that she send her to public school? Kelly, if you even think about sending her, I will punch you in the head.” (she wouldn’t really, but you get the point.) Last month, she was told she was giving too much homework and the parents were complaining. She was forbidden to assign an essay because it was too much work. These kids will now not learn how to write a proper essay in a charter school (supposedly the best) because the admin refuses to stand up to parents. They are almost retired, have been teaching very long, and this is a recurrent situation in any school they have been in. It is not isolated. My dad, an atheist, always speaks against God with such conviction I am sure it changes the hearts and minds of the students, even if just a little.
    Here is the bottom line. If someone else is spending 8+ of the 16 waking hours with your kids, they are having, at the minimum, an equal impact on them as you are. Then add in the friends’ impact and your influence is down even more. I am not an isolationist. My daughter is a pitcher in softball. She is usually the leader on her team, prays for people in confidence and is a person her teammates look to for advice and counsel. But she is 11! Fortunately, I have heard her advice and it is sound. But how many times do our kids go to someone who is not based in Christ or has not had good training? The amount of times people come to her gives me an astonishing number. And this is only one area someone else is directly influencing kids’ thoughts.
    Even if we refuse to look at the empirical evidence, the socialisation aspect is enough to fly in the face of Christian tenants and cause concern.

  17. Kelly, I am very excited that you will be starting this series. Your experience gives this amateur homeschooling mom a balanced starting point from which to begin my own study into figuring out what I believe about things.

  18. KTHunter says:

    Thank you for sharing the link. I’ve read some of Gatto’s work before. It seems that “Public Education” is a many-headed beast that can benefit some and harm others. Because the “system” is built from people, the experience you have can depend on the people you encounter. I went to public school in the 70s and 80s in a rural Tennessee system. I had some outstanding teachers and others that weren’t so great, but for the most part the collection of teachers that I had over those years were wonderful, and I feel blessed to have had them. I had five years of math in four years, including a year of Pre-Calculus, with a teacher that just blew my socks off. She did something no other math teacher had done… she actually EXPECTED us to read the math book! We had to write, in English, a summary of what we had read the night before. Writing it down in real language helped me to break down what I was doing into something I could use later. I had never, ever had a math teacher that expected me to write paragraphs! I also had a wonderful English teacher who taught me the basics of writing, and I certainly owe her a huge debt. She was considered to be a real taskmistress by most students, and we did a LOT of work in that class. However, the work was never tedious (no busy-work), and it always had purpose. This teacher had thrown her entire life into her work, and she produced some top-notch, well-educated students. My Home-Ec teacher taught me how to sew… a skill I still use more than 20 years later! That being said, not everyone had my experience or my mix of teachers, and not everyone I knew put into their education the same amount of effort that I did. I went to go visit the English teacher a few years later, and she said she was pulling back. The students she was getting just didn’t care the way we did, she said, and it was not longer worth the effort on her part. I left that visit feeling very sad. Yes, she had been tough, but she had been fair, and she had really wanted us to LEARN. I think the big difference now is… and I’m talking about the system itself rather than the teachers … that the emphasis is on EVALUATION and not on LEARNING. TESTING is not LEARNING. Learning is doing it, getting bits of it wrong, finding out what was wrong, thinking about it, fixing it, and doing it until you get it right, and then applying it. Learning is thinking … and thinking about those open-ended questions whose answers don’t fit neatly into a fill-in-the-blank space or the choice of a letter. EVALUATION is confirming that someone can just write down the “right” answer. LEARNING is sweating over something, getting into the dirt with it and wrestling with it until you grasp it … and that wrestling can continue for the rest of your life with those things that draw you to them. I think there are a lot of teachers out there that want to teach and help kids learn … but I think the system holds them back and puts the emphasis in the wrong place.
    My best friend took the same classes I did, and she could work with the material as well as I could. But when we took the standardized tests, she made half my score. Half. It was ridiculous. She knew the material. She just didn’t work well with testing, and the test scores alone caused her many issues in the first year of college, even though they didn’t reflect her true abilities.
    I support the idea of home schooling, especially if one is in an area where the schools available emphasize the wrong things, whatever that “wrong” thing may mean for a family. I think some public schools do a great job, but sometimes that depends on the mix of teachers and administrators there at the time. I like that we have the freedom to choose the schooling that fits … private, public, home, or a mix of these. Whatever the choice is, parental involvement and the investment the child makes is key … we cannot get more out of an education than we put into it.

  19. […] the educational system, and get you to think beyond “is my school a good school”. (See part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) But secondly, to challenge Christian parents to evaluate their biblical […]

  20. Kirsty says:

    Kelly, I just want to encourage you here! First of all, let me say what a HUGE blessing it is to see you stand so firm on homeschooling when SO many others falter. I have lost many a friend over my views on homeschooling and how firmly I stand on it. It is so encouraging and a great blessing to see that their are others who stand just as firmly as I do and see the wickedness in the public school system and WHY homeschooling is the biblical way to go. 🙂

    I also want to say that no matter what kind of slack you get from others, which I can see just from the comments on this page is quite a lot, remain standing firm. You are a light to those out there who need it and you are pleasing God in doing this! I am so excited that I have found your blog and look forward to reading through the many great posts you have! 🙂

  21. […] We don’t believe in cookie-cutter children. […]

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