Pastor DJ Harry
Encouraging Parents Regarding Their Children’s Education (part2)
How engaged are you in your child’s education? As we established in the previous post, it is the parents’ responsibility to oversee and manage their children’s education and development. As Christians, this responsibility comes with great weight, realizing that the education option we choose will have more impact on our children than any other variable in their early years! Christians also understand that there is more to a child’s education than just the academics of learning. Your children will be exposed to a life altering worldview through their education….It can either work with or against your family’s Christian values. When it comes to your child’s education there are usually four or five options that are available; however, not all of the options might be ‘real’ options for you and your family. That is where the difficulty often arises.
Think of it this way. Imagine you lose your job in Biggstown USA and suddenly find yourself searching for employment. After months or more of searching, you find possible employment in Littlesville. You begin scoping out the area for a church, housing, cost of living, traffic patterns…and of course school options for your kids. Nothing will bring more heartburn than struggling through school options when you move. Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt! Sit down with me at my kitchen table, and we can think through our options and weigh the benefits, dangers, and warnings of each education choice.
DISCLAIMER: Yes, there has to be one of these! I realize that school situations, though similar by type, may be drastically different from region to region, state to state, and even district to district. I will do my best to keep those differences in mind as we look at the different types of education. It remains the parents’ job to seek out these differences to make the best decision for their children.
OPTION #1 PUBLIC EDUCATION
In the fall of 2015, approximately 50 million children attended government schools for their education. This is option #1 simply because it is the option available everywhere in the United States and used by more families. By comparison, edreform.com reports that total private school numbers in the past few years were around 5 million, roughly one tenth the number of public school students. It is clearly the most common option in the U.S., but is it the best option for your children? You should think through the pros and cons before choosing any option for your child’s education.
Benefits of Public Education
There are some obvious and real benefits to public education. It has a lower personal cost, is more convenient, and transportation is often provided. Some schools provide meals for students (including during the summer break) and most provide a wide variety of extracurricular sports activities. Tradition often drives people to enroll their kids in the local public school. Generations of family members may have attended and graduated from the local public school. These are all very real benefits to public education.
Often, in rural settings, friends and relatives either teach or are employed at the local schools. This family/friend connection to the local schools makes it an attractive option when choosing where to send your child.
Academically, there is great variance (as with other types of education as well) when examining the level maintained within the public school system. Because I spent most of my life in Charleston, SC, I am more familiar with public schools there. Within those school districts, there is a vast discrepancy between schools that promote higher learning with real opportunities to prepare for the future and schools that simply promote students through the system. Special schools with higher academic standards are often created to fill the gap… and acceptance into these advanced programs is difficult and can take years. Even states with overall higher student scores have the same issues within districts. How does your district/school compare to the rest of the state?
Drawbacks of Public Education
There are some obvious drawbacks to the public education system as well. The biggest concern to a Christian young person, in my opinion, is the amount of secular worldview exposure that child will receive. I understand that some public school districts have schools that are well-maintained, run by a principal that is a believer as well as believers teaching in many of the classrooms. I am thankful for those who seek to stand up for Truth and righteousness and are trying to slow the movement away from Biblical morality. Unfortunately, in our day and age, this pales in comparison to the overwhelming push our federal government is making toward a worldview that opposes God’s Word and seeks to silence any opposing viewpoints. The mood in many school districts across America is distinctly anti-Christian. Same-sex marriage, gender neutrality, marxism/socialism, revisionist history…all are protected by the ‘wall of separation’ that our U.S. Supreme Court has placed within the government that limits a teacher’s ability to speak out Biblically against those ideas legally.
As a system, the public schools that your grandfather went to are not the same as the ones your children are attending today. Parents, be aware of what is being taught to your children. Do not assume that since your kids attend the same school you attended that all is well, and they are being taught the same moral values you were taught years ago.
Conclusion for Option #1
There are very obvious benefits to the public education option. There are very clear issues, though, of which parents must be aware. Remember, the responsibility to educate your children is yours. Make sure your child is receiving an education that not only fills their head with knowledge but also fills their heart with moral values.
Does your child attend public school? Be as active in your child’s public school as possible. Let your Christian voice be heard. Hold the school board accountable for choices that they make. Investigate the curriculum that is used in your district. Communicate often with teachers so they know where you stand on your child’s education. But most importantly, take a daily active role in teaching your child the absolute truth from God’s Word in your home. It is your single most important responsibility!
OPTION #2 PRIVATE EDUCATION
Often the statistics combine secular and religious private education. Are they the same? While they may be similar on the surface, private schools can be very different once you begin looking at their stated purposes and goals. Not all private schools are created equal; It takes a discerning parent to help choose education partners for their family.
Drawbacks of Private Education
There are two drawbacks that make this choice more difficult for families. The first is financial. In most states, the tax dollars allotted for your child’s education are spent in the public education realm and are not available for private use. This means that the cost burden is on your shoulders. This is a significant drawback for many families. The second issue is convenience. Unlike public schools, only a few private schools offer transportation, and the school you choose may be many miles away. Few private schools receive government funding so all extra educational and activity costs become your responsibility.
Benefits of Private Education
Often these schools are competing for your dollar so they are trying to produce the cleanest/sharpest product in the education market. Private schools usually try to involve parents in the learning process and have parents involved within the classroom. Private secular schools and private Christian schools can have some very distinct differences, primarily in the areas of worldview and curriculum. All schools have a worldview or a perspective on truth and morality. Just because a school is ‘private’ doesn’t remove it from the moral issues that a secular worldview introduces. The goal of Christian education is to teach children from a Christian worldview that focuses on God as Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. This is usually accomplished through Bible curriculum, chapels, and integration of Biblical themes throughout the classroom. Warning: Just because a school has the name “Christian” in its title doesn’t mean it is accomplishing those goals! Your job when looking at this option is to do your homework. Investigate. Visit during the school year if possible. Try to get an accurate view of what the school is actually accomplishing.
**I must add that one of the real dangers of Christian education is the tendency of parents to relegate the responsibility of their child’s development (spiritually and academically) to the Christian school their child attends. Deuteronomy 6 doesn’t say that we are to teach our kids Biblical truths when they are in school; it proclaims that we are to teach them when we are standing, sitting, walking, resting, getting up, and lying down. That means every waking hour our kids need so see the Bible lived out in our homes. This Biblical obligation simply cannot be shifted to your child’s school because Christian schools do a poor job at parenting. They, however, can be an excellent tool to help you accomplish the educational goals you have for your children.
Conclusion for Option #2
Private education does have a real cost drawback. The benefit is that you have a choice in the school environment into which you are placing your child. This does not come with risks, however. Not all private schools will help you accomplish the goals of your family, and you must diligently seek out the options that are best for your child. Christian education itself, while it can be extremely beneficial, has it’s own risks. Parents cannot step aside from their role as leaders in their child’s development and education. Parents, you must be actively involved in teaching God’s Word to your children and living it out in your home.
**No matter what education choice is made for your child, there is nothing that can replace parents that are actively involved in the Spiritual life of their children. Are you taking that role seriously? How engaged are you in your child’s Spiritual growth?
Maybe public schools are not right for your kids. Maybe there are no private schools or Christian schools that fit the bill either. In our third and final installment on this topic, we will be discussing homeschool options for your child’s education.
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DJHarry Isaiah 64:8 We are the clay!
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