A Christian cannot avoid being in the world. They were born into the world a sinner, they were saved from sin but still influenced by it and struggling to become more like Christ along the way. Very seldom throughout their life will they have the opportunity to have just Christians around. They will have to be able to stand for their faith against people that either couldn’t care about it or that are antagonistic to it.
There are two basic reasons that I believe that Christian parents send their children to public schools.
- It seems natural, it’s free, and it’s what they have done.
- They want them to learn to stand against the world and be different.
“You cheated!” I hear you say. “You loaded a lot of reasons into the first one!” Actually, I group all of them together because the first option is based solely on “practical matters” or non-spiritual ones. That decision is made with the priority of the child’s spiritual life lower on the list than other factors.
Those that choose the second option believe that they are actually helping their child spiritually, and therefore are choosing the education format to help them to grow into good defenders of the faith.
So, what do the parents want out of the Public School system? They want the expected product– they want their child to know their subjects, to be good citizens of their community and they are counting on a system that thousands of kids pass through each year.
The spiritually minded parents also want their child to be exposed to the logic of the world, but to have the opportunity to stand against it– to hone their logic and other skills to the point that they will be able to stand against other temptations down the road.
How well do they get what they are looking for?
America’s public schools are continually getting poor reviews, and not beacuse of a lack of money. Every year the governments (local, state, federal) continue to put more and more money into the system, but the grades do not seem to improve. We’re constantly reading about testing being altered and systems being put in place to help students, but we also read about children leaving high school not being able to read and write.
Systemically, the public school faces a big problem from too much direction and too much liberal influence. With the desire to get kids through, and with the size of classes, children get overlooked and enter society at a large disadvantage.
If the Christian parent is involved with the child’s education he can certainly learn his subjects well and come out better than average, however. The quality of education, regardless of the location, depends a lot upon the parent’s involvement.
As for Biblical upbringing, this falls heavily on the parents because they not only have to give Bible training, but help guide the child to make godly decisions when everything they see around them is contrary. There is the benefit that you can say that “everything around you is wrong”– a way to identify wrong and keep the child away from it, but the trade off is the things that the child will be exposed to that they might not be with one of the other schooling options.
Should you send your Christian child to a public school? Only if you want to be really involved with the child’s classes, teachers, school board, peers, and you will take the time to make sure the child knows what is godly and what is not. You will also need to make sure that you provide good, solid Biblical education to them because they will be hearing all sorts of things that run contrary to the Bible in the school– and if you’re not telling them differently why shouldn’t they believe their teachers?