Monday, January 19, 2009

The Cosequenses of Public Education

Sooner or later, we reap the consequences of our actions. During this last election, the chickens came home to roost. Have you wondered why 18-to-29-year-old evangelicals voted for Barack Obama despite his apostasy on the fundamental moral issues of abortion and same-sex unions? They voted 32 percent for Obama, twice the percentage of that demographic group who voted for John Kerry in 2004.

What caused the children of the so-called "religious right," to change their moral imperatives so dramatically? In this article, Phyllis Schlafly suggests that most likely it's the humanistic attitudes and decision-making they learned in the public schools, which 89 percent of U.S. students attend.

From time to time I hear “Christian” parents attempting to argue in favor of public education. Their justification goes something like this, “I went to public school and it didn’t affect me,” (an opinion that might be arguable). I think some more honest responses would be “I would rather spend my money on recreation and comfort” or “Why should I pay for something when public education is free?” The truth is, many parents just simply let their kids make those decisions for themselves.

Ron Livesay, a retired Christian School administrator, has written this on the subject:

Over the years, I have had many parents tell me that they plan to allow their children to decide which school to attend when they reach a certain age, usually at the beginning of either junior or senior high school. My response to that is based on my biblical convictions concerning the absolute necessity for God-centered education. It is not my purpose to tell people what convictions to hold, but I am hopeful that this article will challenge your thinking.

First, it is unlikely that a twelve or fourteen year old has the maturity and accompanying wisdom to make a decision that will likely affect the remainder of his life. Regardless of how some of them appear, early teenagers are not adults and should not be subjected to the pressure inherent in making adult decisions. Sound decision-making can be learned from other situations that have less far-reaching implications.

Second, to allow a young person to make a decision that has the potential to help or hurt him greatly is to abdicate parental responsibility. Parents must take the position that their age and wisdom are greater than that of their children and that decisions must be made on the basis of what is right and good rather than what their children like or thinks is fun.
“Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” Proverbs 19:27 (NASB)

Third, the usual arguments given for a young teenager to make such decisions are weak. “He wants to go to the public school to be a witness for the Lord.” But putting canaries in with sparrows to teach the sparrows to sing will likely result in many chirping canaries and very few singing sparrows. We do not send our children to be foreign missionaries nor do we enlist them to fight in wars. Rather, we nourish them to maturity before we expect mature behavior.

“But the public school has more electives.” That is true but can we justify allowing our children to be taught by unbelievers for the sake of an auto shop class? The biblical principle is that parents are responsible for the education of their children and that it is of utmost importance that the education they receive be consistent with and based on God’s Word. It would have been curious indeed, had David attended Philistine Central High School so he could play football or march in the band.
“Thus says the Lord, ‘Do not learn the way of the nations…’” Jeremiah 10:2 (NASB)

“I do not want to shelter my children from the real world.” What is the “real world,” anyway? According to Scripture, the real world is one that includes God rather than one that legislates Him out of existence. An education that does not include God is void of an understanding of the real world. It is public school students who are sheltered and protected from reality. To ignore the truth and try to be neutral is to deny the truth, and the public school has no option or intention to do otherwise.

“The public schools have many fine Christian teacher.” Praise the Lord for that. The public school can certainly use them. Christians who teach in public schools have a unique ministry. They are to be commended and upheld by prayer. Their task is not easy. They are laboring within a system that is hostile and restrictive, yet they have great ministry opportunities. But a mature adult teaching in the public school is not the same as a young, impressionable student attending that school. Christian teachers cannot make the public schools into Christian schools. The problem lies, not with the teachers. They are under the authority and control of a system that, by government decree, will never be godly.

There are many inane arguments for allowing young people to make bad decisions that we know will harm them. But they are usually inconsistent with biblical wisdom. The consequences of those decisions will be our responsibility.

Every Christian parent has a God-given responsibility for the godly education of his children. Whether through home-schooling, Christian school, or some other means is not the issue. The important thing is for us all to be faithful in our responsibilities.
“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine hearts and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children…” Deuteronomy 6:6-7.

Pastor Ron Livesay is my long-time friend, co-worker, and occasional contributor to this blog. He recently retired after serving God for over 30 years in Christian School administration.

8 comments:

Daisy said...

You mean you want me to be the parent? But that job is hard (whining). I've been told I can't do it. Isn't the public school teacher better at parenting? Isn't the church youth pastor better at Biblically training my teenager? At least that makes it easier to pass the buck when they turn out like their teachers.

When parents tell me they went to public school & turned out just fine, I usually ask them if they are willing to take the Nehemiah Institute's Biblical Worldview test. The problem with parents today is that they don't even recognize their secular worldview.

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

Daisy,

The "Nehemiah Institute's Biblical Worldview Test?" I've not heard of that. I'm going to go check it out right now.

Thanks

Ron Livesay said...

The first time I published this article in the school newsletter, I took some grief from church leadership for "being too harsh" and "offending" people, especially public school teachers in our church. That did not stop me from publishing it two or three more times over the years. Truth is never popular.

Daisy said...

Ron, I can imagine. My hubby is considered a bit of a turncoat for being a public school teacher who fully endorses homeschooling. Oddly enough most of that venom comes from his Christian ps teacher friends.

Ellery said...

Good post.

On a side note. The rhino pic in this post... Isn't that the RhinoHindu God of Destruction?

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

Ellery,

I don't know about any rhinohindu god of destruction. I just thought it was a parody of the famous illustration, The Study of Man.

But a god of destruction might be appropriate for this post. Public education will destroy the minds of your children.

Coram Deo said...

I heartily recommend the three works below for anyone who's "on the fence" about public school, or for those who are worried about public school, but don't believe they have an alternative.

Don't be deceived any longer!

The Harsh Truth About Public Schools

NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education

Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

Coram Deo,

Thanks for the recommended reading list. I know several people who will appreciate this.