What are we doing?
In April of 2019 Pew Research put out a report. Among their findings was that 85% of Christian teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 attend public schools. Of that, 82% identified as Evangelical, while 88% stated that they from mainline Protestant denominations and 86% were Roman Catholic. On the other hand, only 6% attended either religious private school or were home-schooled.
For approximately 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, almost 90 percent of Christian households across denominations, Christian mothers and fathers trust their children to the public education system. It’s there, in those schools, that they are to be educated, where they are to be taught critical thinking, where they have the majority of their social interactions, and where their thinking is shaped as they prepare to enter the world.
This isn’t to say that the time that they spend at home isn’t important or doesn’t have a profound effect on them. Yet, we cannot ignore the incredible impact that where a child spends a majority of his or her day has, or the influence that educators and these social environments have on them. They absolutely do. To quote the from the opening paragraph of School Influences on Child and Youth Development (Defining Prevention Science, 2014), “Schools have played a key role in youth development throughout American history, both serving as social microcosms of the broader society and reciprocally influencing people and communities.”
Yet, when we consider the state of our public education, we have to ask ourselves, is that a good thing? Is that something that we actually want? As Christian fathers, and the head of our families, is that something that reflects our values?
Perhaps, as we consider those questions, we should let an article from Fox News entitled “Teachers, unions and education officials push ‘woke,’ leftist policies in schools across US” answer it for us. In this article, written by Tyler Olson, a 2019 email from the then Connecticut Education Commission, now federal Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona is quoted as he states, “We need teachers behind this wave of our curriculum becoming more ‘woke,’” This goes alongside moves to push for education that advocates for greater government intervention, ending what is considered “male-centric language” and for racial exclusionary policies.
And to prevent parents from knowing what is going on, some school districts are telling principals that they need to create a fake curriculum to send home to parents. How can we be terribly surprised though when we have teachers worried about parents overhearing what they are teaching as they seek to instill their own values in the minds of children, even when they run contrary to the values of the parents? Concerned with conservative Christian values being taught at home, they see their public school classroom as a means of undoing a parent’s influence.
So, I have to again ask, what are we doing?
As we are reminded in Scripture, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Ps. 127:3). As Christians, and Christian fathers, it is our job to raise our children with a strong, biblical worldview. We are to train our children in the way that they should go, so that even as they get older, they will not depart from that path (Prov. 22:6). Yet, as we consider the state of the schools that Christian parents send their kids to, it becomes a question of if we are really, fully doing what is necessary to raise them right.
Now, I’m not saying that in every situation, or in every place Christian schools, or homeschooling is going to be an option for parents. It’s not. Cost and availability makes that clear as some parents find that to be prohibitive, sending their children to public schools. That’s the reality that we live in. If your excuse for not putting your child in Christian education or homeschooling is simple a matter of convenience though, or because you are unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to allow for that to happen, even though it is possible, then it is time to re-evaluate priorities.
With that being said, what I will say is that the Christian community has, in many instances, dropped the ball when it comes to education. This isn’t in every case, as there are churches that have made this a priority. More often than not though, they are the exception rather than the norm.
In many more instances what we find is that these Christian communities have focused their time, energy and money elsewhere rather than making Christian education readily available and affordable for parents, seeming to believe that an hour or two on Sunday, or a youth group, is going to manage to counteract the 40 hours a week that children spend under the influence of the secular, post-modern world that they are exposed to in the public education system. Then they wonder why the church has crises like it’s currently facing as Critical Race Theory or Wokeness or Subjectivity tries to sink its claws into the church and so-called “Exvangelicals” become a thing.
Good stewardship of our time, money and resources is building Christian schools and providing the resources necessary to make them affordable and available to children. It’s working to create and foster a rigorous academic program that is Christ-centered and God glorifying. It’s striving to drive the number of those Christian student’s attending public schools down to nothing. It’s driving an exodus from the secular to the spiritual so that that our children learn to be set apart, what it means to be “in this world, but not of this world” before they are expected to go out into it.
After all, what’s the point of having a nice, big church, if it’s empty? When we keep entrusting a world openly hostile to our beliefs, to our values, to our hope, with our children, our future, that’s what we are heading towards.
As Christian men, the heads of our homes, and the leaders of our families, this should be a fundamental goal of ours. It should be a responsibility to our children, our families and our wider Christian community that we view as being of the utmost importance. If it’s not then we are going to be forced to watch as the church continue to fight for relevancy and finds itself struggling as it stumbles from one challenge to the next, trying to stave off the world at the gates but finding that it has already infiltrated its walls.