May 20, 2008

Exodus from Public Schools

Long before we ever had kids, I felt God's call on us to be a homeschooling family. At first I figured I would simply homeschool during elementary school, the formative years. Surely I could never teach my children what they needed to know at the high school level...after all, my strengths were in language and literature, not science or history. And how in the world could my children go on to college if they were homeschooled in 9th through 12th grade?!

Then I picked up a book called Homeschooling All the Way Through High School. I had never even considered that it was possible for me to homeschool our kids the whole way! This book really changed my perspective...and I read it about one or two years before I even began my homeschool journey.

A couple of years later, when we were stationed in Maryland, I had a wonderful friend and mentor who taught me so much about being a mom as well as being a homeschool teacher. Her firm belief that God wants to raise up a godly generation for His glory propelled me from being a rather passive consumer of information about homeschooling to formulating my own strong opinions in support of this movement.

I must caveat my opinions by saying they are just that--opinions. Some people I dearly love and respect, whom I also view as godly leaders, are sending their kids to schools, both public and private. I in no way presume to prescribe for other families what they should be doing, although if you ask my opinion, you're likely to get an earful about the benefits of homeschooling and how much better it is in so many respects compared to public schools! As the product of a Christian school from kindergarten through college, I hold in high regard private schools who are committed to spiritual and academic excellence; however, I don't feel called to send my children to one of those schools.

My own homeschool journey began by thinking of homeschooling as a good choice for some people for a few years. Through various means, God has directed my thinking to embrace His call on our family to homeschool our children every step of the way until He leads them to college (or whatever other direction He wants them in--but we're going to assume they will go to college in the meantime!). While I'm cautious in saying that homeschooling is the right choice for everyone, I firmly believe it is the right choice for MANY. And many don't even know it's an option.

So, with that said, if you have about 2 1/2 minutes, I invite you to read this article by Cal Thomas. I'd love to read your comments about it!


the Pools said...

Thanks for the article. God has shown us over and over again that homeschooling is what he wants for our family. I have felt so inadequate but He has confirmed to me over and over that we are to train them and teach them the fear of the Lord (the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom--Psalm 111:10) and to love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, mind, and strength and He will take care of their future. I must trust Him even in the times when I feel so unequipped. And I would never, ever trade the precious time I have with the children. You and your family are such an encouragement to us. I am excited to be on this journey with you! Annette

Amos said...

Well my Lord SOMEONE needs to stand up and stop letting this hogwash taint the minds of our children! Dear Lord. There is a large problem among Americans and among Christians, it is being complacent! Not just about their every day events, but their morals and beliefs as well. It is time for the army to start marching and do what the Bible tells us and train them the way they should go. I have had one great year of homeschooling with my children, the next few years they will be in private Christian school as the Lord is leading me to nursing school, but I am grateful that I have a place where I know they will still get fed the Word and not the garbage! Thanks for sharing the article.

Pilgrim said...

I hadn't heard about the change in California - and what they do normally does set the standard for the rest of the educational landscape. This is something that my husband and I constantly ponder. Our little one is only 20 months (but you can start full day free preK around here at 3 years old). I am doing my research and there are SO many resources and opinions available - but it is interesting. I am happy that Cal Thomas and others (like you) are getting the word out that there are choices people can make - that make a difference not just for our families but generations to come.

Krista said...

An interesting article to be sure. I'm not completely convinced that their arguments that this will lead to "favorable teaching" of sexually deviant behaviors are accurate. I'd be willing to bet there are plenty of parents who'd argue against that.
Also, my husband and I are teachers, and Christians. There are actually a lot of us in schools and you can, as a teacher, refuse to teach things that you don't agree with to an extent. You just basically brush over it. At worst you have a class discussion and don't simply "indoctrinate" the children to one point of view. Although this is coming from middle and high school teachers.
One other problem I have with this is that if all Christians take their children out of public schools then we have simply left a vacuum of good influence for the kids whose parents don't care one way or the other. Then those kids will be influenced by the radical movement since there will be no counter balance.
I'm a product of the public schools. It was my choice because I visited some private Christian schools and didn't see any difference in the way the kids treated each other on the playground. A big indicator that this school wasn't really any different than my public elementary school.
I'm also a believer that if you are always engaged with your children and set a good foundation at home they will be a light to the children at school. Parents are more influential than peers.
Besides, what happens after 18 years when you set them "loose" in college? What happens if they have felt stifled and then choose to do anything that comes their way?
I guess what I'm saying is that I don't believe homeschooling is the best answer for everyone. For some yes, for others no. For various reasons. Just be careful thinking that your kids will all turn out great because they didn't go to public school! ;)
And I think you're doing a wonderful job, these are just my opinions!

Beverly said...

Hi, Krista,

Kudos to you and your husband! I wholeheartedly support Christian teachers in the public schools. I was one myself for a short time, and my brother-in-law, his wife, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law are all teachers in public schools. So are many other friends. I agree that teachers will emphasize what is important to them individually--but it's obvious that not every teacher out there is teaching with the same biblical worldview that my husband and I desire for our children to have. In fact, I would venture to say that it is more likely that unbelievers would be influencing my children unless I sent them to a Christian school.

As for the way Christian school kids may act compared to public school kids, in this argument I think it is a moot point because I personally lump "schools" together, feeling that God has called US as a FAMILY to homeschool our children, NOT to put them in ANY school. I was careful in my post not to speak in a derogatory tone against Christian schools, but I'm fully aware that there are some real duds out there. It's kind of like churches--some are "Christian" in name only. You can't judge every Christian school by the experience you have with one, nor can you judge every public school or every church or any individual person or place based on an experience you have with another.

Yes, I agree we want to teach our children to be a light to the world. We do want them to tell others about Christ. But "bad company corrupts good morals," as Scripture itself says. Unfortunately, these days in the public schools it can more often be a situation of throwing innocent lambs to the wolves. I would never want to put the pressure on my 7-year-old to be a light when she herself is still learning what it means to live the Christian life.

I've seen Christian high schoolers attend public schools and stand firm in their faith. I applaud them and give glory to God for the work He does through them. But even if my kids have a strong faith, unless God makes clear that we are to change course, we will seek out other ways for our kids to share their faith.

A vacuum? Yes. Precisely. I think the point is that if enough people leave the public schools en masse, then ideally the powers that be would have to evaluate what it is schools are supposed to be doing and why it is that so many have left--and why they are likely doing just as well if not better because of their choice to leave.

I don't homeschool my kids to alienate them and shelter them from ever hearing about any evil. I do it because of what God wants me as a parent to do--

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).

I feel that the best way to talk about God's commands, ways, and character--the best way to impress that upon our children's hearts--is to have my children with me, teaching them here at home, discussing ideas and concepts in a safe and loving environment. I want to encourage critical thinking skills and equip them for what they'll meet up with in the world out there.

I take nothing for granted. I don't assume my children will turn out perfectly simply by avoiding public schools. It's our responsibility as parents to teach and equip, to train and nurture, to set our children on a firm foundation and prepare them for the time they are ready to spread their own wings and fly.

Thanks for sharing your perspective as a schoolteacher and for letting me have my perspective as a homeschool parent!

Anonymous said...

Outside of the whole home school/public-private school discussion, the article tragically omits one of the fundamental needs in education: parental involvement. The end of the article argues that conservative Christians go to church and care about the church they are a part of, but release their children into the wild of public schools. The author ignores parental involvement in school meetings, volunteering, school board decisions, and even choice schools. Any parent who checks out on their child's education needs a reality check. Whether it's the homeschooling parent who teaches all science and english but just dabbles in history and math to the public school parent who completely trusts the American education system. Interesting article, but in my opinion, a bit short sighted.

Beverly, you said something else that caught my attention. I think it is super great that you want to write God's decrees on the kids' arms and forearms (reference to Deut. 6). God calls us to do this. It is a wonderful thing to train the kids Scripturally. However, critical thinking skill don't come from hearing one point of view. I did my big research project last summer on critical thinking and Socratic seminars, and all the research that I read found that critical thinking skills are directly related to the ability to ask difficult questions and then be able to answer them. You, or Ted, or church pastors will never challenge the depth of the kids' faith like the world. Some of the best conversations around the dinner table when we were kids were about something the teacher said in class that didn't agree with the Christian world view. Hearing my parents' responses were more valuable than I think I can even realize, but they wouldn't have happened if I wasn't forced to think about those issues on my own--with major parental involvement (it comes up again!).

I don't know what the answer is on how to home school and still build strong critical thinking skills using an awareness of how non-believers view life/the world/God/salvation/etc. But I think it's worthwhile to process through it, like you said, for the bettering of Charis, Tobin, Arden, and Kenna's development academically and spiritually.

Beverly said...

Hi, Joel,

I totally agree that parental involvement makes a HUGE difference for those children/teens who attend public schools. The Christian parents I know who have chosen to send their kids to public schools are VERY involved, and I'm sure ANY parent who is involved is going to help their kids advance that much farther.

As for critical thinking skills, we've purposely chosen a curriculum that includes literature that REQUIRES parental involvement! Not every selection is going to be a "sanitized," Christian viewpoint. In fact, most of them will not be, especially as the kids get into middle and high school. The point is to introduce the kids to various viewpoints and discuss within the framework of our biblical lenses. You don't need non-believing teachers to run into ideas that are controversial.

Even within the homeschool community, there is a wide range of beliefs and opinions. Co-op classes, community involvement, service opportunities at church and elsewhere--our kids are not and will never be in a cocoon. God forbid we would never allow them to confront ideas we don't agree with.