Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Problem with Public Schools

Many Christians are extremely concerned about the worldviews that are being taught to children in public schools. We commonly see headlines about children being taught in schools to say a Muslim prayer, that boys and girls can be whatever gender they feel like, that humans evolved from an apelike ancestor, that sex is for people who “feel ready,” regardless of their age or marital status, and many other false and very upsetting things. These are all very serious problems in which the schools are teaching a false worldview.

But some people claim these are isolated incidents, not the kinds of things that happen in their own local public schools. Nothing like that happens in the schools where their children attend. It’s just academics and they’re very involved as parents, and it’s not a problem.

I suspect that, for many Christian parents, they’re simply not aware of the influence of wrong worldviews because they haven’t studied them and don’t think on a worldview level. A teacher doesn’t have to say “Christianity is false” in class for your children to be absorbing false ideas that will one day undermine their Christian beliefs. The teaching of false worldviews is often subtle, not blatant, but it has a cumulative effect over time as children eventually come to realize that the ideas they are being taught as fact in school (or, in many cases, that they have absorbed without thinking about) are not compatible with the Bible. We’ve seen the damage caused by this as a large percentage of children raised in Christian homes have abandoned the faith in their teen or early adult years due to doubts about the truth of Christianity. This is a widespread problem, not an isolated handful of cases.

It’s certainly true that many local public schools may lack the kinds of blatant indoctrination into false religions that have made the headlines recently, but that doesn’t mean they’re free of false worldviews altogether. If you wait until it’s so blatant that they’re teaching a Muslim prayer or telling your elementary child how to try oral sex to be concerned, you’re missing a whole lot of problematic teaching that is slipping right under your radar.

Thus, I’m extremely skeptical that even the best of local public schools is really free of faulty worldviews. Actually, I don’t believe it at all, and I challenge parents who believe this to learn more about the common false worldviews of our culture and do a careful evaluation of the ideas their children are being taught to see if they line up with scripture. Parents have to think on a worldview level if they want to catch all the false ideas.

However, even if it were the case that a particular school did not teach any false worldviews, there’s still a problem. Even IF a public school is completely and totally "neutral" on religion and worldview – the absolute best we can hope for in any public school – that's actually a very serious defect that no Christian parents should accept.

Here’s why.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Ephesians 6:4
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Deuteronomy 4:10
Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.

It sounds like teaching our children the ways of the Lord is to be an all day, every day thing. We are commanded – not encouraged or suggested, but commanded – to diligently teach our children the commandments of the Lord all throughout our day and wherever we go. Having our children spend the better part of their waking hours in an environment that does not teach them about God and the Bible leaves a gaping hole in their education far worse than any other.

It's simply impossible to provide the kind of Biblical training the Bible commands that we give our children if they spend 8 hours or more, 5 days a week, in a facility where teaching about Christianity is not allowed. If you wouldn't dream of sending your child to a school that doesn't teach math, how much more should you be appalled at sending your children to a school that doesn't teach them the ways of the Lord. The latter is far more important than the former because it impacts, not just their life here on earth, but their eternity.

This lack of teaching about God is a huge problem with public schools, quite apart from the false teaching they include and the peer pressure to do wicked things. Even if all the teachers were Christians in your local school, and even if they didn't teach gender theory and moral relativism and evolution and promiscuity and so on, they aren't teaching the ways of God.

Of course, as I have pointed out, public schools today are NOT religiously neutral and actually do a lot of indoctrination into false worldviews like humanism, secularism, atheism, moral relativism, hedonism, and scientism that parents may not detect unless they have studied these things. But even if your local public school contains many good Christian teachers and doesn't push false worldviews, it is still a far cry from the consistent, daily immersion in the things of God that we are commanded to provide our children. And that's why it isn’t a proper place for the children of Christian parents.


  1. In your opinion, do you think public schools should provide a Christian education, with teachings about Jesus, the Bible, prayer, etc.?

    1. No, I don't trust public schools to do it properly and they would feel the need to also teach about other religions as well. If we had small, locally-run schools again that were funded and controlled in the community and teachers would teach the Bible as part of an overtly Christian curriculum, then that might work. But I don't see public schools ever going back to that. Thus, Christian parents need to get their kids out of the public school system and either choose Christian schools or home school.

    2. Okay, let me re-phrase my question. Let’s say, hypothetically, that the government decided that all public schools should hire only Christian teachers and begin teaching a proper Christian curriculum, one that is completely in line with your beliefs. Is that something you would support, or would you still be in favor of maintaining secular public schools?

    3. I don't think our public education system is done right at all. There should be absolutely no federal government involvement, for one thing. If we moved control of schools back to the state and local level and allowed parents to choose the curriculum, and if some schools then decide to teach Christianity, then I would be okay with that. But I don't think I would ever be comfortable putting my child in a public school system as it is now organized, even if they taught Christianity. I just don't trust a system controlled from afar to do it right and I don't think government bureaucrats should be deciding what everyone's children should be taught.

    4. Again hypothetically, what if a state or community mandated that all schools must teach a Christian curriculum? Do you think there would be any value in maintaining secular schools?

    5. I think I answered this already. I said parents should be choosing the curriculum in the schools their children attend.

      Secular schools are better than schools indoctrinating children with a false religion like Islam, but they aren't a good choice for Christian parents to send their children to because they're inherently flawed by leaving out Christianity.

    6. What I’m trying to ask is whether you think there’s any value in maintaining secular or non-Christian schools in America, and you haven’t really answered that. I already understand from reading your blog post that you would not want your children in a non-Christian school, and I’m sure other Christian parents feel the same way. But there are plenty of non-Christian parents out there and I'm wondering if you think it's appropriate to have non-Christian schools for their children.

    7. Non-Christian parents are welcome to have non-Christian schools for their children. Parents should be choosing what their children are taught at the local level. I already said that.