Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Should Christians Pull Their Kids from Public Schools?

Homeschoolers are faced with criticism often. The most commonly asked question is "What about socialization?" This question has become something close to a joke for veteran homeschoolers, as its usually asked while our kids organize a playground full of kids into a game, or something similar! Questions about academics don't even cause us to bat an eye, as the research continues to show that homeschooled kids score consistently and significantly higher than their public school peers. Sports? No problem. Music? No problem? Art? No problem! Field trips? Every week...

But there is one question, one concern that really makes Christian homeschoolers pause and think. It is this argument, put to them by fellow Christians: shouldn't Christian parents keep their kids in schools, so those children can be witnesses to the non-Christian kids? Isn't it wrong of us, as Christians, to leave those other children without good examples? By pulling our children out, aren't we removing God and His love from the schools?

To the people who ask these questions or voice these concerns, I say that yes, these are valid concerns and good points for thought. I say that what you say makes perfect sense to me, and that I'd think the same thing myself - if - God had not opened my eyes to the truth of what the Bible commands us as parents.

So here's an argument for homeschooling.

I assume that people who think it wrong to pull Christian kids from schools are themselves Christians - else why would they care? With that in mind, I'll be using the Bible a lot. Using the Bible doesn't help much when defending against the secular world, because they don't believe it. But, since this argument is for fellow Christians, I'm going to assume that they do in fact believe the Bible.

First of all, let me assure you that Christian parents who take their children out of the public school system had already thought of these concerns long before you thought to bring them up. They were concerns for our hearts before we made our decisions.

Most homeschoolers enter their homeschool careers with quite a bit of fear and doubt. It is no easy task, taking on the entire responsibility of your children's education, finding the time and resources (and money!) to teach children - at multiple levels! There are no sick days, no "I don't know, have your teacher explain it to you...", no "Finally, the kids are in school! A few moments to myself!" The decision to homeschool is not made on a whim. It is made with much thought, questioning, praying, and seeking God's will.

I can say that, personally, when we knew it, we knew it. We were supposed to homeschool. We weren't quite sure how we would manage - in more ways than one. But, we knew we were meant to do it - knew it by God's own guidance - and so we jumped in!

Very recently, however - on a couple of different occasions, actually - I have had this same argument presented to me - that Christians should leave their kids in public schools in order to be a light in the darkness. So apparently people are still having a hard time understanding that God does, in fact, call some people to remove their kids from schools.

If you're one of those people, well, this one's for you.

Think back, if you will, through all those Bible stories you've read or heard. Think of all the stories of how God sent little children out among society to be bright shining lights, witnesses of God.

Can't think of any? That's because there aren't any. Not once does God send children out on their own to be witnesses. The disciples were grown men, not ten year olds.

David was anointed as a young man, but stayed at home with his father until the time came for him to prove himself.

Samuel was dedicated to God before he was ever conceived, and when he was old enough, was placed under the tutelage of a Godly priest.

Timothy was called to great service for God, but was first raised and taught by his mother and grandmother.

Esther was a young woman with a great Godly purpose, but only after she had been raised and trained to trust God by her cousin Mordecai.

None of these people were children. They were young, yes, perhaps even teenagers. But they spent their childhood - their growing, learning years - being instructed and trained by their own families or, as in Samuel's case, by a Godly teacher.

Should we raise our children to love God, to trust Him, to seek His guidance? Absolutely. Should we send them out for 6 or more hours a day to mingle among the ungodly on their own? Not my kids!

Children have unbelievable faith. However, they are also incredibly vulnerable and easily swayed. We send them mixed messages when we teach them about God at home and then tell them to listen to and obey their teachers at school, when often that teacher will tell them something in direct opposition to what we've been teaching them at home! They will spend over 15,000 hours of their formative years being taught un-Christian beliefs by many of their teachers.

The Bible says, "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him." (Psalm 127:3)

A 1996 report by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement said that school officials "are willing to take risks and recognize that change demands time, mistakes, and a tolerance of failure." In other words, education in the public school system is a risk, where mistakes are permitted and failure tolerated!

Excuse me? God tells me that my children are a reward from Him and you want me to send them off to a risky (in more ways than one) educational system where failure is not only tolerated but apparently accepted as the norm? I don't believe God gave me my children to sacrifice on the altar of public education!

In Matthew 22:21, Jesus says to "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." I pay my taxes to the government, but my children and their impressionable hearts and minds do not belong to a federally funded and controlled school system - they belong to God!

"All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children's peace." ~ Isaiah 54:13

The Lord will teach my children. He will use me as an instrument to do that teaching. As parents, we will do as commanded in Deuteronomy 11:18-19:

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds, tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

My children will be taught Godliness and truth in all things, all the time. They will not be tempted or led astray by teachers who "know best." They will not be exposed to core subjects watered down by politically correct, socialist agendas. They will not be taught evolution as fact. They will not be exposed to death education, immoral sex education, or "group-think" mentalities.

There are many, many times in the Bible where God's people are instructed to keep away form false, worldly teachings:

"This is what the Lord says:
Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. For the customs of the people are worthless..."
~Jeremiah 10:2-3a

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ."
~Colossians 2:8

"Guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith."
~1 Timothy 6:20-21

If God wants so much for us to watch out that we ourselves are not lead astray by worldly teachings, then how much more must He want us to guard our children's tender hearts and immature minds! When we send them into public schools, they are bombarded daily with those very worldly teachings we are supposed to be protecting them from!

But what about the other students? The ones not raised in Christian homes? Don't they need some sort of good example? Yes, they do. I believe this is why god has called good Christian men and women to be teachers.

Other children, however? Research says that over 80% of students in America attend a school where they feel that their faith is regularly threatened. God is all but gone from our public schools, and telling our 5th graders to go and "do what's right" is obviously not working much to help that. Children - and teenagers - are so very susceptible to peer pressure. We may think that sending Christian children into the schools is having a profound affect on the people around them, and in a few cases it is, but the unfortunate truth is that most of the time it works the other way around.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:33, ""Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'"

For this very reason, we are told in Psalm 1:1-2:

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night."

Notice the verse didn't say "he who doesn't follow the counsel of the wicked" or "he who doesn't do what the sinners do." It says don't even be where those people are!

Proverbs 13:20 says, "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." A companion of fools? Like the children our children are spending 6 hours a day with in school? The children from homes where questionable morals and values are taught?

The Bible commands us to "Train up a child in the way he should to, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:16) Notice that it says "when he is old", not "when he is still a child." Which brings us, in a round-about way, back to the beginning of the argument.

Are Godly people called to be witnesses to the world? Yes. Are we called to go among the sin of the world and shine as a light in the darkness? Yes - after we are mature enough in our own faith to go out into the world, being transformed but not conforming (Romans 12:2). Does God tell us to knowingly place our children, our innocent, vulnerable children, into a situation where their young and impressionable minds will be daily flooded with false and worldly teachings, and where they will be surrounded by sinful attitudes and behaviors and temptations? No, He does not.

In fact, He said "Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14)

And do not hinder them.

Do not stand in their way, or cause them to stumble, or set any kind of barrier between the children and their relationship with God.

Well, there you go.

So, in closing, I must say that I know full well that there are those who will still try to argue against all I've just said. To them, I have only the same old thing to say: I will do what God commanded in the Bible and called us as parents to do with our children. Your children are your responsibility before God, so go ahead and do whatever you want, but be prepared for the day you stand before God and have to answer the question, "Why did you send my precious little lambs to the slaughter day after day instead of raising them safe in the fold?"


  1. You know it feels more and more in Christian circles that parents who choose public school have to defend themselves from home schoolers and not the other way around. Their are great reasons to send your kids to public school. The key to any kids success lies on parents. It's my job to teach my kids the faith, morals, and values. It's the schools job to teach my kids math, science, history etc. All the while I stay on their education like a hawk.
    I've seen horrible public schools, but I've also seen home school done horribly. Again what counts the most is that we the parents are training them in a Christian worldview. Many parents aren't doing that, letting their kids left alone to their own devices. ( MTV, BET, media, video games etc)

    Two great books for those Christian parents who choose public school are:

    "Going Public" by Kelli and David Pritchard

    "Helping your child succeed in Public School" Cheri Fuller

  2. My children, for varying reasons which I won't go into here, have been involved in all three: homschooling, Christian-based schools and public schools. Undoubtedly, homeschooling is the best option for those who wish to protect their children spiritually, and if done correctly can be much better academically and socially. But ultimately it is a question of what God wants for your children - they're all different and they all have different needs and priorities within these areas as well as different callings, so find out from God what his plan is in this regard, don't stop until you know, and then do it.

  3. I am so thankful for this article. What totally compelling arguments for homeschooling. My husband and I have been praying about this subject, and this article helped us make our decision to homeschool. Regarding first poster -- I don't think anyone is expecting public school parents (and I am one) to defend themselves, but the beauty of blogs is hearing the honest experiences and opinions of others. I have been searching for bad things about homeschool so I might know both sides, and frankly I can't find anything. Anyway, thank you for a well-written, insightful post - - it just might of helped changed our family's life. . .



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