Christian Parents' Big Decision: Public School, Christian School, or …
Author: Kevin Brownlee
Training up a child in the biblical nurture and admonition (discipline) of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6 and Ephesians 6:4) is a HUGE responsibility that every Christian parent should take very seriously and obey. They are then faced with a decision of how or where to educate their children. I realize there is good debate among evangelical Christians as to how children should be schooled, and I do not wish to “cast stones” at any true Christian parent’s decision. I do not wish to cause division among believers, but to sow unity. In Romans 14, Paul writes how we are to maintain unity among believers, even if we hold differing views on issues (such as education) that are not core doctrinal issues. I just ask that we respect those parent’s decisions with love, and look to your own understanding of what God is requiring of you, and obey that.
Christian schoolers or home schoolers should refrain from condemning the government public schools, but should instead solidify in their mind why they choose Christian schooling over public schooling. So when asked, they can provide a patient, loving, clearly understandable description of their decision. Christians are to be humble (but not weak or shy) loving witnesses for Christ as lights in the world, not arrogant or self-righteous, condemning others for their decisions that may differ from ours.
The Bible was written over a span of about 1,500 years, and when reviewing the Bible for references to education of children, I came to the conclusion that the only times godly families sent their children to government schools was when they were forced to while in bondage. All other times it seems that they home schooled or schooled together with other godly families. We do know for sure that God placed education of children squarely on the shoulders of parents, not the government, and that schooling for the Christian parent must include the oracles of God such as His truths and doctrines, and include them in all aspects throughout the day. In other words, bible based education. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
Only recently in our country’s history has the major form of schooling not been based in the bible. I assume you would agree that our public schools are the major form of education today, and although it may include some biblical references, and employ some Christian teachers or administrators, public schooling today is no longer squarely based on the Bible, and certainly not considered “Christian education”.
Today, Christian parents fall into one of three categories:
The first group are those Christian parents that neglect or dismiss the requirement of biblical based education all together, or at best, relegate bible based education to a few family bible devotions and/or Sunday school, assuming that will suffice as well for “Monday school, Tuesday school, etc.”. I have many dear Christian friends and relatives whose decisions place them in this group, and still applaud some of their efforts.
The second group of Christian parents are those that look into their options of bible based/Christian schooling that is available to them, (which is either to home school, or to send their children to a Christian school) and find that the choices are either burdensome, or prohibitively expensive. (I would suggest for consideration that both of these could be construed as either selfishness, or lack of trust in God that He will enable them and provide for them to obey His requirement. However, I am not oblivious to the few situations where public schooling is the only option). So this group of parents do one of two things: Opt for public education anyway and resolve to make the best of it as God would lead, such as evening devotions or other after school Christian teaching. Or, they give up (or give in) and choose public education and leave it at that. Most of those parents come up with reasons, excuses, or rationalizations to excuse their choice. If you are a parent in this category, I encourage you to make every effort you possibly can to instill what the Bible says into your children, whom God loves so dearly.
The third group is parents that choose to home school their children, or send them to a Christian school. I know that most of these parents sacrifice to do so. If you are a parent in this category, or an educator that this group of parents have entrusted their children’s education with, then God will bless you if you follow His education requirements.
Home schooling is growing annually by double digit percentage, and it is estimated there are well over 300,000 home schooled children in the United States. Although not exclusively religious, the majority of home schooled children are in families deemed religious. Additionally, there are over 3,000 Christian grade schools in the US, and that does not include charter schools, which can have a Christian basis. An overwhelming percentage of students educated in one of those institutions go on to attend one of the approximately 340 Christian colleges/universities, seminaries, or Bible colleges in the US, That is a lot of parents that have taken seriously God’s requirement to educate their children His way.
Having gone through the decision making process as Christian parents years ago on how to educate our Daughter as God requires, my Wife and I we decided on a local Christian school. We made the necessary sacrifices to enable her to attend, and I even served on the school board of directors. We came to absolutely love Christian schooling, and know without a doubt we made the right choice. God has honored our decision, and our Daughter’s education is far superior to what she would have received in the public school. We know, because she attended one class for one semester at our local public high school, and she came away from there absolutely disgusted, and gained a revitalized appreciation for her Christian school.
There are several good organizations and web sites to help the Christian parent in this decision, I particularly like Discover Christian Schools, and the Association of Christian Schools International. For home schools, I would suggest looking for a local chapter of Christian Homeschool Association. The responsibility of choosing how to train and educate the children God gave parents is one of the most important decisions they can make. Parents should choose wisely, obedience is required, and God’s glory and praise is at stake.
Copyright 2012, Kevin Brownlee
About the Author
Kevin Brownlee is the author of the upcoming book “Qualities of Sound Christian Schooling”, and author/publisher of the blog “Sound Christian Schooling” at www.kevinbrownlee.com Follow Kevin on twitter @scschooling