Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Guest Post: Raising Christian Kids in Public Schools

Photo courtesy of Dean Terry

“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


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  2. I want to say I absolutely love your attitude towards this issue, and thanks for making her post a guest post on your blog. We parents be it home school or public school all have the same mission....raising Christian families..and fighting this ever toxic culture. So I often I run into wonderful people who home school but slam public school as if it is a sin.... you however have chosen to uplift the choice even though its not your own!!! Thanks. My little one is not school age but we are fairly certain public school is our route. So naturally I have sought encouragement. = ) Thanks for the post on my blog too.

  3. Thankyou for sharing on this subject. I have six children...ages 12, 10,8,6,2,and 9 months. My husband and I borh attended public schools growing up. We sent our children to a Christian school , have homeschooled all for a year and a half and now we have felt led to send them to public school. We see pros and cons to all areas. We pray for our children and are open to the Lords leading in our.their lives. When I shared with my homeschool friends that we are being led to send our children to public school next year...we got "snubbed." They have become very judgemental. I am sure it is because they are constantly defending their decision to homeschool. We want to be in the Lord's will for our family and will be always looking to Him and not to man.

  4. thanks! thins is encouraging to me :)

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  6. Do you know if her blog is still in existence? I tried the address you gave and it didn't work. I am looking for resources for Christian parents sending their kids to public schools. Thanks!

    1. A ex-pastor friend and I are developing a site for Christian parents that have their kids in public school. We are just getting started, but hope to be a resource for families. There isn't much out there. Stop by www.publiconpurpose.com. We'd love to have you visit!

    2. Thanks, Shawna! I hope that will be helpful for those that check out this post. Although I'm an avid homeschooler, my choice is not a religion. I'm happy to see other Christian kids thrive in a public school if that is God's will for them.

  7. Unfortunately, I was not able to find the blog either. I'm sorry!

  8. Thank you so much for these wise words of encouragement. Like the other comments before me thank you for being respectful of other's choices. As for my husband and I, we are missionaries in Eastern Kentucky and long for our children to love the Lord and follow him and not this world. I battled this school decision for 5 years, and still battled it today in my heart as I sent my little boy to his first day in kindergarten in a public school. I was unsure of God's leading in this area and felt so emotion and guilt driven that I couldnt make this decision without my husband's full support and when he said he felt lead to send our son to public school I submitted to him when I learned his reasons. He has the intention of impacting this small community through our service in the classroom, prayers for our son, his friends, their families, and the teacher, and by training our son to be a light in the darkness. I can tell you I feel a peace about this decision now and though I get moments of tears and heavy heart (afterall this was his first day and my first without him here :) ) I use that as a desperation in prayer for him and his school. Thank you for showing that God's grace includes differing educational choices for our children and that we can be Godly followers of Christ even when we choose to send our children to public school. I think I was driven for so long that this couldn't be possible because so many of the moms I admire in the faith homeschooled.

  9. Thank you for sharing your story! I love our homeschooling lifestyle, but I realize that every parent must choose what is God's will for them and their children. I would never presume to know God's will for anyone but myself except what is clearly stated in His Word. Many blessings to you as you follow His unique will for your life in your educational choices!