Thinking Like a Christian: What Does the Bible Say About Public School?

Most parents believe “school is neutral”, are not aware of any agenda outside of “no child left behind”, and often make decisions about educating their children based on visible traits–the reputation of their school, the teachers they know, etc.

My intent for this series is two-fold: first, to reveal some history and background into the admitted agendas of key influences in 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 responsibility for educating their children.

Education is NOT neutral, even from a secular standpoint. Social agendas in the last 60 years or so are gaining momentum and academic interests are taking a backseat while our children are being indoctrinated with values not our own. The system is, by and large, interested in making “good citizens”, and often see the family as a hindrance to that aim.

Definition of a “good citizen”? Docile, easily managed, believe-what-we-tell-you men and women driven by consumerism and not likely to challenge the status quo (or recognize the influence of said agenda).

“Schools today do not teach adequately the essential academic subjects. They do not lead by good example. And they do not support traditional family values.  Quite to the contrary, they teach that there is no right or wrong, that tolerance is good and being judgmental bad, that competition is wrong and cooperation good; that all children should have high self-esteem, and that they should explore life and enjoy themselves to the fullest.  Learning to learn, becoming lifelong learners and fitting-in and getting along with the crowd is all that matters. “Progressive” educators, today, promote consensus and group-decision making, and they discourage individual thinking as being egocentric.  They want our children to become “good citizens” that can’t distinguish right from wrong and will fit into the “Global Village” under a “New World Order” that function under a new set of moral values.”  Education News

But for the Christian parent, the stakes are much higher. Does the Bible even speak about education? Since the words “public school” are not found in Scripture, is this an area of neutrality?

The truth is that the Bible most certainly tells us how to educate our children and we are accountable to that knowledge. To think that God would remain silent on such an important issue is naive at best.

Two commonly violated biblical principles of education:

Commonly, it is argued that a child can attend school but still have his parents fulfill the biblical command of nurturing him in the admonition of the Lord. I will not suggest this can’t be true when the child is not at school. Yet the fact remains, that for the majority of the day that child is NOT being nurtured in the admonition of the Lord. The majority of the day the child is being subjected to “the counsel of the ungodly”, even if he has a gagged Christian teacher here and there. The curriculum of the state is decidedly opposed to Christianity and separates the knowledge of God from every subject.

This fact alone violates two biblical principles: “walking not in the counsel of the ungodly” and “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.

To be continued…

 


 



31 Responses to “Thinking Like a Christian: What Does the Bible Say About Public School?”

  1. AmyG says:

    Thank you for this!

  2. Trying to study the subject with you I google the definition of public school…

    Definition of public: adj.
    1. Of, concerning, or affecting the community or the people: the public good.
    2. Maintained for or used by the people or community: a public park.
    3. Capitalized in shares of stock that can be traded on the open market: a public company.
    4. Participated in or attended by the people or community: “Opinions are formed in a process of open discussion and public debate” (Hannah Arendt).
    5. Connected with or acting on behalf of the people, community, or government: public office.
    6. Enrolled in or attending a public school: transit passes for public students.
    7. Open to the knowledge or judgment of all: a public scandal.

    Definition of school: An institution for educating children; a large group of fish or sea mammals.

    I believe the Bible calls for INDIVIDUAL DISCIPLESHIP. Nothing public and not schooled either. To be schooled would be to be made the same as others. I believe God is all for individualism and uniqueness. To be public would be that is out in the open, everyone knows or that it’s common to everyone. Again, God is about revealing secrets, and still small voice and personable.

    Sometimes this subject feels like one is beating a dead horse. Then again, there are people out there that haven’t been challenged on their public school thinking yet. There are new comers to this debate every day. So keep up the good work, sis!

    :)

  3. Amy says:

    Thank you for this series. I’ve been finding it so helpful! I’ve been blessed in being able to know some who hold respected positions in education policy circles in my state. However, it’s been very sobering for me because I have seen and heard so many things about the schools that really make me sad. What goes into the planning of curriculum and school culture is not about the students as much as it is about a certain form of social engineering. Not everyone I’ve encountered is a “progressive” educator, but those who aren’t are often very limited in what they can do within the present system. When I see how so many of the public schools fail children educationally as well as morally and spiritually, it causes me a lot of worry.

  4. Mrs. E says:

    My Mom just called to share that my cousin, a very laid back and mild tempered man, called her to vent about a new and popular grading method his son’s teacher is using (a strange sytem I’ve never heard of before). I used the opportunity to hop on my soapbox regarding public school vs homeschooling.

    Poor thing, she shouldn’t have called right after we watched IndoctriNation and during your series ;-) .

    Funny thing is that she blames the problem on young teachers who don’t care enough about their students, not on the system itself. Could be because my Dad was one of those teachers who was passionate about the subject he taught and did whatever it took to make sure that his students “got it”.

    Either way, it was just one more confirmation that the effort of homeschooling is worth it to us. My husband is a public school teacher, but is struggling with being a part of a system that undermines everything he believes in. What to do at the age of 44 and many mouths to feed? Right now he treats it as though he is a missionary in a hostile culture. He is careful to obey the law, but strives to be bold and perhaps pushes the limits a bit. He has had parents complain and I often think that “this is it…this is what while get him fired” So far, he has remained employed, but I have full confidence that if he loses his job God will provide.

  5. Larissa says:

    I have really been enjoying this series! I look forward to the rest of it!

  6. Joy H says:

    Excellent!

  7. angel says:

    I like the term you used… “gagged” Christian teacher– that is so true! Well spoken, as always. :)

  8. [...] from Part 1…) “There is no God and no soul. Hence, there are no needs for props of traditional religion. [...]

  9. josephine says:

    Kudos for this blog post. You constantly publish a engrossing blog post. Thanks!

  10. AbbysMom says:

    I continue to be part of your loyal opposition and do not feel that the Bible mandates home schooling. IHMO, it’s a private decision between children’s parents and, if they are practicing Christians or Jews, God.

    I also think it isn’t fair that homeschoolers don’t get a tax credit for homeschooling, if only for the curriculum materials you use and mileage for field trips to museums, zoos, libraries, or other places that you can show have educational value and contribute to your plan of study for your children.

    I would say that the Bible does say that parents should be involved in their children’s education. If you choose a public or private school (whether Christian or not), why not volunteer in your childrens’ classroom(s) in a significant way?

    One of my sisters who worked part-time was still able to do this. She said it was the best way to know what was really going on in school.(One of my husband’s sisters said the same thing at the Christian school her daughters attended.) She also co-led a parent support for parents of who were sending their children to kindergarten for the first time. The school was located in a neighborhood where there many (legal) immigrants not associated with our educational system and/or had a low level of literacy.

    A friend of mine works very part-time (8-10 hrs/week). She volunteers in both of her sons’ classrooms. This year, she and other volunteers were allowed to tell her son’s 1st grade class what seasonal holidays were important to them and why. A Jewish volunteer spoke about Hanukkah, and my friend was able to bring a Nativity scene and discuss the true Christmas story and what the birth of Christ meant to her.

    Her 4th grade son can read the Bible or age-appropriate Christian books during free-reading time, as long as doesn’t he read this material exclusively.

    And what about student-led Bible clubs, Young Life, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and other similar groups? They are another opportunity for middle/high school students to strengthen their Christian faith.

    • Word Warrior says:

      AbbysMom,

      Thank you for your respectful, “loyal opposition” :-) A couple of things jumped out at me from your comment…

      “I would say that the Bible does say that parents should be involved in their children’s education.”

      I would say this is a gross understatement. If you do a thorough study of what the Bible says to parents in raising their children and how to teach them, you would come away with the instruction to “saturate”, “inundate”, “brainwash”, etc. as we “train them in the way they should go”. This doesn’t exclude the possibility of allowing others to teach our children on occasion, but it most certainly specifies who can and cannot teach them and what material they are to use.

      The common belief is that the public educational system is not “opposed to God”; that it’s somehow a neutral institution. As I’ve tried to point out, it’s not even neutral from those who created it. They know full well there is a motive to “redefine” values and greatly limit, if not sever, the transmittance of values from parent to child. It rides on a current of destroying Christianity, that “harsh, bigoted religion” that disrupts national unity.

      The system perpetuates a humanist religion, exalting itself against the knowledge of God. We are told CLEARLY to avoid that teaching. How much more to shield our children from it?

      What a student or mom is allowed to do in class is very secondary. We are still placing our children in “the counsel of the ungodly” when the overarching counsel is opposed to God. We are telling them that any religion is acceptable (remember, we’ve placed them in a religious institution) and we’ll just throw ours in the buffet when we are supposed to be teaching them that “Jesus is the only way”. (Her son could read Christian material as long as it wasn’t “exclusive”? Again…Jesus is VERY exclusive and He is a jealous God. I don’t see any hint that such an education would appease that jealousy.)

      Also, this series is not an attempt to prove the Bible mandates homeschooling. It’s an attempt to prove the Bible is clear about what is not acceptable.

      • AbbysMom says:

        Kelly,

        I hope I didn’t mislead you or other readers with the comment that my friend’s son can read the Bible or age-appropriate Christian books during his free-reading time as long as he didn’t read them exclusively. This boy’s teacher doesn’t censor his Christian reading materials, including the Bible. What I meant was that he couldn’t spend all of his free-reading time reading Christian books/the Bible. She just said he should read some other books suitable for a boy his age and his parents could even choose the books. Believe me, his parents wouldn’t let him get away with reading “graphic novels” or anything that would contain content they wouldn’t want him to read.

    • Mrs. E says:

      We live in a fairly well to do small town. Our school district, where my husband has been teaching for 20 years, is considered the “good” district. Many of my Christian friends send their children there and do exactly what you say, they volunteer in the classroom, on the curriculum committees, chaparone field trips etc.

      It isn’t enough to undo the constant drilling of humanist philosophy nor to counter the problem of “peer attachment” vs “parent attachment” (this book addresses the second issue-”Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers”
      By Gordon Neufeld, Gabor Mate M.D.)

      One would think that in 20 years of teaching and coaching kids from solid Christian families my husband would have several stories of children who are strong and courageous in their faith. At least 5 who don’t become more like their ungodly friends each year. He doesn’t. What he does have is survival stories.

      Talking about the true meaning of Christmas is nice, but I’m fairly positive it was not presented as historical fact and that the baby in the manger is the living Savior whose blood washes away the sins of every single child in the room and that they all need to repent of those sins and call on the name of Christ lest they spend an eternity in hell apart from Him. I’m also fairly certain that there are not any creation scientists who come into the classroom and point out that the evidence in the geological record cries out that there is a creator and that we know who He is…and how long it took him to do it!

      Any teacher or student who is truly salt and light is disciplined, often severely. Observing in the classroom doesn’t change the fact that the curriculum undermines the authority of scripture every single day.

      We denied this fact for a few years and our oldest 3 children spent some time in school. We pulled them out and do not regret it one bit. If Christians sent their children to a muslim or hindu school other Christians would think they were terribly misguided. Why than is a pagan school considered a reasonable choice for Christian families?

      Please believe me, the entire model of handing your children over to strangers for 8 years a day, 5 days a week for 13 years is not in their best interest nor is it biblical.

      BTW, I am just starting the above mentioned book, it is not from a biblical perspective but so far has had helpful information. I can’t yet endorse all that is in it.

      • Word Warrior says:

        “Why than is a pagan school considered a reasonable choice for Christian families?” What a poignant, complete summary of this issue!

      • Mrs. E says:

        Thanks Kelly. Immediately after I clicked on Submit Comment I thought that perhaps I shouldn’t have commented on something about which I have such strong convictions that late at night ;-) . We just have so many Christians around us who place their precious children in “the counsel of the ungodly” that I feel like I will burst if I don’t get up on my soapbox once in a while!

      • AbbysMom says:

        I only have time to comment a little bit of your well-written, thoughtful post. My friend Lori couldn’t evangelize in her son’s classroom when she brought in the Nativity scene (frankly I’d be upset if she could evangelize because it would mean that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., would also be able evangelize in the classroom, too).

        But she was able talk about the real meaning of Christmas, that it was in the Bible and why the birth of Christ and his becoming her Lord and Savior was important to her (this is obviously a summary, not her exact or entire words). The operative phrase here was “to her”. She was limited to what Christmas and Christ meant to her, not tell others to accept Christ. Not ideal, but much better than nothing.

        Just think of how many unchurched/non-Christian/nominal Christian children and parents have never set foot in a church except for a wedding or funeral. At least Lori’s talk gave the children a chance to hear about the birth of Christ and its significance in a Biblical manner.

        In a different district in our metro area, a woman in my former church told me that she and her husband were very comfortable with a science teacher in the public high school their four children attended. He taught the classes that included a unit on the origins of life. This teacher was well-known for allowing a well-reasoned discussion between Darwinian evolution and intelligent design in his classroom. And I’m not even sure he was a practicing Christian; I’m sure Barb would have told me if he were.

        • Mrs. E says:

          As one who had the “scales fall from her eyes” regarding Christian children in public schools I tend to be dogmatic in my approach. I appreciate your gracious response.

          I agree with what you said about evangelizing in the schools, but that helps make my point. Treating biblical truths as nice stories that are true “for her” errodes the authority of the Bible even further for Christian children in that classroom. Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis makes this point when he talks of the dangers of Sunday School. Statistically, children who attend Sunday School are more likely to leave the faith than those who don’t.

          It is refreshing to hear that one science teacher is allowed to compare alternative views to Evolution. It would be interesting to see what the students were tested on and what conclusions were drawn regarding origins. My public high school also had an introductory section comparing origins and then moved to the theory that was most likely, evolution. Knowledge of evolution was what was required for the tests.

          I do have several loved ones who are public school teachers, my parents and my husband. My dad was a Chemistry and Physics teacher and he brought in a Physicist from the local college who was a creationist to present to his Physics class on the precise design of the world. Again, that gentleman couldn’t boldly use Genesis, but could point to the evidence of design. For what it’s worth, the intelligent design theory is not the same as the biblical creation theory. The designer is considered unknown. Again, for Christian children in public school, this can undermine the athority of scripture. It gives a seemingly reasonable alternative apart from the biblical account.

          I used to be quite the apologist for sending Christian children to public school and never considered homeschooling. I even used same arguments that you make for it. Even if the above thoughts are completely unconvincing, there is no way to counter the recent phenomenon of peer attachment vs parent attachment when your children are apart from you all day. A separate and unique culture for children apart from that of their parents seems normal to us because it is what we know, but it began just 50-60 years ago. Normal and culturally acceptable doesn’t make it healthy or right. Never before in the history of the world have children taken their cues for acceptable dress, behavior, values and worth from peers instead of parents and other close adults. Again, it has been a few generations so we don’t know any other way. The ills for society as well as for the individual child have been well documented and are worth investigating.

  11. Have you ever thought about creating an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog based on the same ideas you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my audience would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

  12. Momoftwods says:

    So I have been struggling with this. I homeschool my kids, I am using a public school homeschool curriculum. We pulled them both out of a private Christian school, mainly because we felt God wanted us to. So we work at home each day and bust our tails to get through a curriculum to stay at the pace so the kids are prepared for a test that tells us whether or not they are on track with all the other kids in the country! Boy that breeds individuality! (So I don’t know if I just took a step up to my Soapbox or if I just jumped right on top of it:)

    I feel like our society is way off base and I am following the world’s views about educating our kids. It seems so “radical” to make the decision to not teach our kids those topics because it has been so ingrained! I even mentioned this to my small group from church and they all looked at me like I lost my mind! (Ironically one mom and child were unable to come to our small group because the child had not finished homework that he was to complete over his Winter Break).

    I see that education has its place in today’s society. You have to be educated to get a job, to make money, to support yourself and to support your family. But hasn’t all of that become the focus and therefore taking the focus off what we really need to be teaching our kids…God’s Word!

    So I am searching…where in the Bible does it says I have to or need to educate my children on anything other than God’s Word?

    I have just found this blog and this is the first post to read. So maybe I am premature in asking this question. I will continue my search.

  13. [...] But, if you are a Christian parent with even a slight understanding that our children are given to us as a gift and it is our sole responsibility to steward that gift, this open agenda should cause you to yank your children out of the government’s clutches without a further thought about what else is terribly wrong with the school system. [...]

  14. Bethany says:

    I’d like to say that I have been in public school since 2nd grade and am currently a junior. I didn’t get the sugar coated schooling either. My school dealt with drugs and fights even but I think public school is one of the best things I could do. I am a strong Christian and revolve my life around God. Public school has given me the opportunity to see how people behave in the real world. I haven’t been shielded from the problems of the world, so when I enter the workforce or college I wil understand how real peoe can be. Also I have been able to reach an save some of my friends who otherwise may not know God right now. Jesus ate dinner with sinners. He didn’t flee he confronted them. Public school is an amazing ground to reach other kids that truly only the kid can reach. If we remove kids from public school who will reach the lost? Who will reveal to children how the real world can be. Public school didn’t drive me further from God but closer. I know God wants me in high school right now to reach friends, grow people skills ms ultimately do his work

  15. nancyt says:

    Thank you for such wisdom in times that we live. I agree that government schools are a place of ungodliness!!!! I was a public school raised person, my two older daughters went to public school. Biggest mistake I ever made. My youngest is homeschooled. God had to show me personally. We tend to have the thoughts, well I turned out ok, they will too. But how much worldliness is in me. Lots!!! We are brainwashed from being public schooled ourselves that it is ok. It is not. And for the people who say they can’t afford it. Well, my family had to majorily downsize. But the sacrifice was worth it. And are you single mom, and say you cant. Well, I have lots of friends who do that are single moms. They work and homeschool in the evenings. There is always a way if that is something you really want to do. I believe it is between the parent and God how a child is educated. But God is clear in Psalm 1….That is not an if or maybe but a definite. Thank you again for this well written piece.

  16. Allison says:

    Thank you for posting this. God created education, tuition, teachers, and students for their own purpose. And, it’s not evangelism. Proverbs 17:16, “Of what use is tuition in the hand of a fool who has no heart for wisdom?” I love how Wisdom teaches her first lesson for free to those who aren’t really seeking an education. And, for those who do see the need to invest in an education, we know in Whom we do. Proverbs 23:23, “Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding.”

    Praying now that more Christians will actually train their children in the way they SHOULD go…the way of Wisdom…rather than trying to prepare them for they way they SHOULDN’T.

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:5-7

    We all…believers and not…are reaping the consequences because we haven’t.

  17. Amanda says:

    I agree with your post. I feel so sick to my stomach to enroll my kids in public especially after what my oldest daughter(8yrs) experienced.
    but we are military and are literally pay checkto paycheck.
    So I don’t know where to turn. We cant afford any of the Christian homeschooling curriculum right now.
    Any suggestions?

    • Oh Amanda, you do not have to purchase curriculum! We’ve been pay check to pay check since we started ;-) It’s a lie that one needs a boxed curriculum to teach one’s children. And if you’re overwhelmed, start with Easy Peasy All in One Homeschooling–a free online site with complete curriculum.

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