Evaluating the Options: Public School

I recently wrote about "The Necessity of Christian Education," arguing that the Bible requires Christian parents to provide their children with a Christian education. I want to follow up by evaluating the different educational options out there, beginning with public school. This, of course, is the most controversial option—but it is the option that needs addressed most.

Statistics suggest that almost 90% of Americans send their children to a public school, and this includes many Christians. Let’s begin by asking the question—can Christian parents provide their children with a Christian education if they place them in public school? This question is going to vary depending on the public school, but we must all recognize that this is a tall task given the current state of American public education.

It should be obvious that American public schools today are not providing a Christian education. At best they are providing a secular education with some leftovers from the Judeo-Christian worldview. But this should not surprise us, as public schools are actually government schools. Take a look at the government of the United States of America. Do you really want a nation that redefines marriage and funds the slaughter of unborn children to decide what kind of education your child receives? And yet that is how government education works—the American government determines how teachers are trained and which curriculum will be required in schools.

Children attending American government schools receive a secular education. It is not a “neutral” education, for such a thing does not exist. All education has a worldview, and the worldview presented in government schools is not limited to evolutionary theory in science class. No, government schools are teaching children every subject from a secular and often anti-Christian worldview, whether it be science, history, literature, math, or art. Here are some examples of things government schools teach that are contrary to the Christian faith:

  • There is no true foundation for logic, order, math, and beauty.
  • There are not absolute moral standards derived from Scripture.
  • Promiscuity is permissible and only requires protection against pregnancy and disease.
  • Humans came about through Darwinian evolution and not through the special creation of God.
  • History is not directed by God.
  • The church is not foundational to western civilization.

Government schools are teaching children to reason and think without God. They are promoting the autonomous reason characteristic of those in rebellion against God, much like Eve in the garden, who thought she could reason on her own apart from the spoken Word of God. This kind of education is functional atheism.

The question then becomes—can Christian parents counteract the 35+ hours per week of secular education? There are many parents out there who recognize this problem and argue that it can be done. I do not know if it is impossible, but I think we can all agree that this is extremely difficult. Parents do not see and hear everything that goes on in the classroom, making it difficult to address everything that is taught (not to mention the influence of other kids). And even if some parents are diligent enough and have the time to debrief their kids everyday after school, most parents do not.

For most parents, public education is a losing battle. Nightly family devotions, weekly youth group, and church on Sunday are not offsetting the 35+ hours per week spent under the instruction of unbelieving educators (or at best, hand-cuffed Christian teachers). At best, children are getting five to ten hours of Christian education outside of school per week. A realistic evaluation of government education therefore makes it a very poor option for Christian parents. Government education simply does not provide the Christian education commanded in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ephesians 6:4, and it actually requires parents to do even more work to counteract the unbelieving worldview presented in government school. This burden appears to be too much for even the most determined parents.