Public, Private, or Homeschool (Deciding Factors Part 3 - Freedom and Curriculum)
Continuing a discussion on deciding factors for choosing your child's education.
I would like to address two deciding factors at once in this point.
Personally, this is where I am beginning to part ways with public education. I see great educators who love kids with their hands tied by bureaucrats. Most decisions are being made by Washington and very few are being made locally. I see more elitists at the top assuming there is no intelligence in the people who are actually gifted to educate children. I see more passion for an ideology than I do for my child.
I may be very jaded here, but my kids now both attend private school and I teach two hours a day in that same school. The kids in our school, which is a Christian school, are just as flawed as the kids in any other school; but I can pray with my kids. I can customize certain experiences for my classes based on who they are. We can use the Bible as a text for life. We can stop the course of the day and assemble for worship. We can teach Creationism and intelligent design. We can tell the real story of American history. We can discuss both the flaws and the faith of our nation’s fathers. We can purposefully lead kids to Christ and not fear losing our jobs.
As a parent, I value freedom. I do not value psuedo-freedom which says you are free to express your beliefs as long as it is doesn’t contain any ounce of the Christian God, opposition to homosexuality, the right to life for the unborn, or any perceived conservative thought.
At this time in our lives we are not paying for private Christian education because we think it will lead our children to be greater Christ followers. We are paying for freedom. We are paying of the peace of mind of knowing our children will not be subjected to some sort of sensitivity training which leads to a compromise of Biblical morality. We are paying for knowing the people choosing the curriculum. We are paying for less government intrusion and greater freedom in customization of curriculum for our children. Without a doubt, homeschool and private school offers the greatest degree of customization in curriculum and freedom of thought than public education.
I know there is a lot of debate about Common Core in its motives, creation, and content, but aside from the propaganda, I have heard nothing good from the educators who are being forced comply with its standards. Common Core seems to be a more radical ideological culmination of something public education has been setting itself up for, for quite some time. For too long we have been teaching toward tests rather than teaching kids how to think. The problem is now a radical leftist agenda is writing the tests. Public education has become little more than government school.
Public education in America was first introduced mainly by the churches as a means of preserving freedom and Christian values in the culture of our nation. It was deeply rooted in the local community. Now public education is a means of advancing an agenda and it is strongly dictated by the NEA and the federal government.
If you choose for your child to go to private school or homeschool as a means of avoiding bad kids or placing them in an environment with better kids, wrong reason. If you are choosing private school over public school because you think it will make your kids better than other kids, wrong reason. If you are doing your homework and investigating philosophies, ideologies, and making choices based on deep conviction, now you have something to work with.
Can a child of faith survive in the public school environment? Absolutely, but you as a parent must be more vigilant than ever. This should hold true for all education, but especially for those who choose the public route, you need to be a student of history, science, and the Bible. Read the books your kids are reading. Stay on top of the content. Keep your kids connected in a church that teaches the Bible faithfully. Keep the conversation going with your kids. Ask them what they are learning. Don't be afraid to ask your pastor questions and for support from your church. Be open about it - this is what my child learned at school this week, what do you - Sunday School teacher, pastor, youth pastor, mentor, friend, other parent - think about this?
Last year we actually had a doctrinal issue arise from something being taught in our private school and a group of parents in our church approached me about it. As their pastor, I was more than happy to use it as a moment of information, teaching, and discipleship. Any good church leader would be happy to help and support you as a parent as you journey with your children in education.
Education doesn't mean we always have to agree. In fact, if there is no disagreement, it is probably indoctrination rather than education. Yet we must approach education with some standards, some semblance of deeply held belief.
What I am about to say should be true of any parent to some degree, but especially so of public school parents; be prepared to offer critical thought in the home that can fill in the gaps or combat the ideology public education will be pressing upon our children more and more with Common Core. You can’t assume that what your kids are learning in school is what you learned in the classroom in 1985 - it’s not even in the same galaxy.
As a parent, with any educational choice, you must also be a student. Know what your kids are learning, stay involved, and disciple your children in the Word.