“My kids aren’t in public school, so why should I care?”
A good portion of the “Christian Mom Blogs” are written and read by homeschooling mothers. If you are a homeschooling or private school parent you probably don’t see how public schools impact you other than the frustration you feel over your tax dollars supporting a system you don’t use.
Reality is, however, that homeschool and private school account for only 13% of the K-12 school population in a given year. When you take into account that some children attend public schools at some time during their k-12 education, 94% of children will receive at least some education in a public school. Even if your children end up in that 6% that never do, there is a pretty good chance your child will marry, and/or work for or with the product of a public school. So no matter where your children go back to school this fall, your local public school is something you should be praying for.
Our family has chosen public schools as the best place for our kids at this time for reasons I will address in a minute. But just because we have placed our kids in public school does not mean we think it is perfect. My husband and I are both politically very conservative and think the Department of Education (Federal) should be abolished. We believe schools should be under local community control, and that there should be far more school choice. We favor vouchers, competition among schools, and unrestricted transfers. (Our state makes transfers difficult at best, and so when our oldest was in first grade we actually moved so that we would have access to the middle school we preferred-so you can see we don’t take our school decisions lightly.)
Despite the things we don’t like, we have decided that the best way to impact our schools, and consequently our culture for Christ is from within the school system. Which leads me to:
“The Decision: Why We Have Chosen Public School”
It is a decision every parent has to make. What is school going to look like for your family? I used to be a teacher, and my husband is a teacher, so many would think that the decision would have been an easy one for us: Public School. But then again, we are conservative Evangelical Christians so many would say we would do what lots of our friends do and "love our kids enough" to home school them. Or, if we like classrooms but want a Godly environment we could have gone down the road of private Christian school. It really felt overwhelming. You raise this little person for 5 years, and then what? Turn them over to someone else? The thought had (and sometimes still does have) my stomach in knots.
You know the popular paraphrase, "Be in the world and not of the world." It comes from John 17:13-16
And now I am coming to you, and I say these things in the world so that they might have my joy in their hearts in all its fullness. I gave them your message, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but I do ask you to keep them safe from the Evil One. Just as I do not belong to the world, they do not belong to the world.
You already know what we have chosen. This verse is one that has helped us in our decision. I think both home school and private school are great options for many families. (and I'm certainly not ruling out either of these options for any of our kids if we come to some time when we feel that would be best for the season) But for now I pray what Jesus prayed, "I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but I do ask you to keep them safe from the Evil One." Jesus is praying for his disciples, I think the way Jesus "parented" his disciples is a pretty good example of how I should raise up my kids. Jesus continues his prayer in verse 17 and 18:
Dedicate them to yourself by means of the truth; your word is truth. I sent them into the world, just as you sent me into the world.
“So what does this mean for me?”
If your family attends public school be encouraged! There are many of us out here and we need to be supporting each other and our schools. Look for ways that you can reach out to others for Christ, and look for ways to make your child’s public school experience on that glorifies God. (read my blog for ideas!)
If you are a private or homeschool parent pray for your public schools and the kids there. Pray that a Godly generation would be raised up and look for ways you can minister to your community. Don’t assume that those of us who are public school families are lazy, less Godly, ignorant, or in some way love our kids less. There are many of us out here that are prayerfully and intentionally working to provide our kids with the education and experience in which God has called us.
Whatever educational experience your children are involved in this year, I hope it is a blessing to them and your family.
Tiffany loves her life parenting her three kids and growing a fourth that will join the family this fall (and eventually the public schools). She writes about their experience (and hopefully encourages others) at her blog: www.christiankidspublicschools.com