The Case Against

Public School

(the case for alternative Christian education)

 All your children shall be taught by the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children.

Isaiah 54:13

Imagine Moses and the children of Israel camped at the foot of Mt. Sinai. They’ve been powerfully delivered from slavery back in Egypt, miraculously led across the Red Sea without even getting their feet wet. Moses has gone into the Mount and received the Law and instructions for building the tabernacle... Suddenly there’s a roar of diesel engines and a fleet of big yellow busses pulls into the camp!

"Moses, what’s this all about? What are these busses doing here?"

"Oh, those," the man of God replies. "No problem. They’re going to be transporting our kids back to Egypt to get an education!"

To be set free from the world and all its ways, only to send your children back into it to be educated seems the worst kind of irony. We came to know the Lord, outside of—even in spite of—the efforts of the secular school system. Why would we entrust our precious children into its hands?

John Dewey

Our American public school system was by and large masterminded by John Dewey in the early part of the Twentieth Century. Dewey was a signer of the Humanist Manifesto and is reputed to be responsible for a great deal of its content. He was an agnostic who felt that God had no part in education, and that truth was subjective and relative for the most part. The vision of Dewey and his colleagues was to recreate America after their own image, and to do it through the schools. "Education is propaganda and propaganda is education," he wrote, and that’s what we have ended up with nearly a hundred years later—the propaganda of a handful of secular humanists.

Most of us have been deeply indoctrinated by that propaganda and it’s difficult to get even born-again Christians understand the issues. Let’s take a brief look at them...

The Case Against Public Schooling

1. Public Schools establish an unnatural social setting for a child to grow up in. Hundreds and hundreds of children in a huge learning factory, being raised by teachers who barely know their names—it’s incredible that our society has bought into the bigger-is-better, production-line mentality, even where our children are involved!

One of the arguments against homeschooling or smaller Christian schools is that the children are being begrudged a normal social life. Thousands of children under one roof, creating an effective children’s world, is not a normal social life, at least not historically. It’s a relatively new development, dating back only 100 years or so. The industrialization of education is just one more unfortunate result of the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s that changed western life forever. Prior to that time, children were taught in churches, synagogues and tiny common schools, usually by the local parson!

2. Teachers are not allowed to talk about Christianity or lend spiritual advice. They are allowed, and encouraged, to teach acceptance of ungodly lifestyles, such as homosexuality; or how to use condoms. Pornographic films have even been shown to junior high students in the name of sex education, and girls have been told to practice placing a condom on a stick—but you can’t talk about Jesus! Sage is burned to Native-American deities, Islam is being presented as a peaceful religion, but Christianity is viewed as offensive, divisive, and unfit for consumption in the public school.

In order to keep their certification current teachers are required to take various courses on the latest politically-correct positions of the public education community. These are often grievous and blasphemous, and have the tendency to drive away teachers with a more traditional Judeo/Christian world view. So the situation becomes worse as the years go by, with the gradual elimination of those with even nominally Christian values.

3. God and religion are peripheralized in public schools. In other words, God is ignored, as though He were not a factor in real life, when in fact He is the major factor. The God of the Bible is also a prominent player in the history of our nation, and in western culture as a whole, but revisionist history books now present the Pilgrims, for example, as political dissidents instead of a persecuted religious minority looking for a land to worship in freedom. The often deeply religious lifestyles of our founding fathers is ignored completely, unless there is some way to present it as hypocritical (e.g. this supposedly devout man owned hundreds of black slaves).

The impression created in children’s minds is that there may or may not be a God, but in any case, He isn’t relevant. You can believe what you like, as can your neighbor, just don’t judge one another. There is no such thing as objective spiritual truth anyway.

4. Modern secular education is more concerned about political and social correctness than about facts. God and Jesus could be offensive to some Americans, so they are removed from our history books—even if the founding fathers of our country came here to worship God in peace. A factual presentation of Islam might sound overly negative to some of our citizens, so instead of the Islam of the Koran or the Islam of history students get a honey-coated version, for fear that they might lash out against their Muslim neighbors. The government and government-operated schools want to protect us from the truth, rather than trust us with it. Homosexual rights are a hot issue today, so you can be sure that subject is covered well, and with a positive spin; children are even encouraged to explore their hearts and find out if they might be gay themselves.

The bottom line is that school is not about "readin’ and writin’ and ’rithmetic" anymore, and little attempt is made to present history, science or any other subject objectively; social issues and political correctness have taken the foreground, and only one side of the issue is allowed to be presented.

5. The entire atmosphere of the public school has the effect of secularizing our children, and subliminally imparting wrong values to their hearts. It’s known as the western world view. It’s based on the culture of the ancient Greeks, unearthed and brought forward during the Renaissance as an alternative to the Christian world view. It is secular, that is, it leaves God out of the picture entirely. It is humanistic: it regards man and his interests as the central purpose in life. It is materialistic: the material world is real and measurable and anything that is invisible or spiritual is mythical and irrelevant. This is the world view that we were taught in school, though no one said, "today we’re going to talk about world view." This view of reality is totally contrary to the teachings of the Bible. It’s the reason that western believers find it so difficult to believe God for a healing, or to take demon spirits seriously—we have been brainwashed. Don’t you want your children to at least be able to choose what they want to believe, instead of it being totally immersed in the godless western world view?

6. Public schools teach unproven theories as facts, and put forth many teachings that are contrary to the Christian faith. This is a major issue to many Christians—their children go to school and are taught the theory of evolution, and ridiculed if they dare to bring up creationism. It’s down a bit on my list because I think some of the above points are of greater concern. My children will generally listen to me instead of their secular teachers; if I tell them evolution is a farce, and present a rational argument for biblical creationism, they’re more likely to believe me. This isn’t always the case, however, and parents must be pay close attention to who their children are listening to and what they are being taught.

7. The public school system plunges your child into a world of ungodly peers. Well-trained Christian children will probably choose to hang around with the more decent kids in school, but then again, it can be very unpredictable. "Evil company corrupts good habits." (1 Cor 15:33), and there’s no guarantee that your child will not be influenced by evil company. They may be shamed into losing their virginity, lured into trying cigarettes, marijuana, or worse. Children are especially vulnerable during their teen years, though involved parents can still be the strongest influence in their lives if they put forth the effort. Your child may return to the fold in due time, but why must he or she be scarred by the world and its pain at all? We do not isolate children by keeping them from public school, but we may, in a healthy sense, insulate them.

8. Children get a better education in private schools and in homeschool. Many parents who don’t necessarily share our Christian values are taking their children out of public school for this very reason. Because of the undisciplined atmosphere, the social pressure, and the general lawlessness of the modern school, it takes more discipline than the average child possesses to get a basic education. Homeschoolers and those educated in private schools test out much higher than their public school peers in virtually every study conducted. Just take a look at who wins the spelling bees each year.

9. It’s not fair to blame the public schools entirely, though they certainly must shoulder a great portion of the blame, for the increasing physical danger your child may be facing in going to school these days. A generation ago, before the removal of God from the public school system (1963) had completely taken its toll, the most serious danger in school was second-hand smoke in high school bathrooms! Today, guns and switchblades are discovered in the possession of grade-schoolers (not to mention older students), hit-lists are commonplace, and every month the newscasts inform us of the latest school killing spree. Less publicized but more common are girls who are gang-raped, the unfortunate kids who are targeted for beatings by the local tough guys, and countless victims of theft and other petty crimes. Any community is only as safe as the people in it, and there is a much larger percentage of "undesirables" in the public school community than in the Christian school.

10. Finally, I want to decide where my child goes to school and who his teachers are, and what sort of an atmosphere he spends the majority of his early life in. Think of it, your child spends thirty-five hours a week, and often much more, in and around school. That’s an incredible amount of input, especially considering that the average parent spends less than ten minutes a week in meaningful conversation with his teenager! To me, this is simply not acceptable. My children are my responsibility, not a teacher’s or a school’s. I want to choose who has influence in their lives and who does not. If I can’t personally educate them in my home, I want to have a close personal relationship with the person who is educating them—I want to know they’re being treated fairly and firmly, that someone is watching out for them and truly cares for their well-being. In the public school I have little or no choice in the matter; in Christian school or homeschool I have all the choices in the world.

The Case Against Alternative

Christian Schooling

Questions and criticisms regarding homeschooling or Christian schools have been raised, but any argument is more than balanced out by the negative factors we’ve presented. Homeschooled and Christian-schooled children have normal social lives; they interact with each other and the rest of the young people in the neighborhood—they are not overly isolated and sheltered. Being raised in an atmosphere of Christian values and discipline is far better preparation to meet the trials and rigors of the real world than anything offered in the secular school system. Interestingly enough, missionary kids, raised almost entirely outside our American culture, often become the leaders of the next generation.

Children have a way of staying current with the world around them, even if they’re not in the thick of it. My children know about the popular movie stars and musicians of their generation without being unduly influenced by them. Teams sports and other extra-curricular activities are available in more places than the public school. It’s difficult to determine in just what ways we are begrudging our children a healthy, normal life by keeping them out of its clutches.

In Conclusion

The responsible Christian parent will find the time to have considerable input in a child’s education, regardless of where that child goes to school; only the most dysfunctional of American families shuck off the entire responsibility of their children’s education on a school, public or private. The parents’ job is made much easier, however, if the child is educated outside of the precincts of the public school.

The National Education Association and its state chapters are up in arms against alternative education, homeschooling, school vouchers and anything else that threatens their monopoly on controlling the future of the United States of America—they rank right up there with financial institutions and oil companies as the powers that manipulate the destiny of our nation and of our individual fortunes and misfortunes—and they don’t want anybody rocking the boat. But more and more thinking people are realizing that the public school system is not delivering the goods and isn’t operating in the best interests of their children.

I realize that not everyone can afford the often high tuition of private schools, and that many parents are seriously intimidated by the thought of homeschool, but I urge you to take the matter to the Lord in prayer. The consequences of sending your child to most of the public schools in our land are simply not acceptable from a biblical point of view. I challenge you to stand up for your children’s lives and do something about it.


Copyright © 2006 Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.

All Scripture quotes from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.


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