Back to School: The State of Education Should be Turned Back Over to the States

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It’s that time of year again. Kids standing on curbs at 6 AM, and yellow buses noisily grinding up and down our roads. Public and private schools seem to almost go year-round these days. Long gone are the days of a full three months of summer vacay. And, for all the required class-time, every indicator over the last decade or so reveals that students in the United States are performing poorly, and are not even learning the basics: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. 

But public school students are excelling in woke-ness. The public schools, urged onward by the radically left-leaning NEA, continue to crank out social justice warriors who know how to Defund the Police and fill American cities with riots and violence, while simultaneously insisting that everyone respect their pronouns. Granted, this radicalization and politicization of education may more squarely be blamed on institutions of higher learning (colleges and universities), but make no mistake, the groundwork for Marxist revolution is being laid now as early as Kindergarten in our public (and some private) schools. 

For all the damage that the non-scientific, draconian COVID policies had upon our children’s education, the silver lining was the awakening of parents to what their kids were being taught and expected to do in public schools. Parents are yanking their children out of state-run schools in droves. The homeschool cooperatives are overflowing, often struggling to find facilities that can accommodate them. Parochial schools and other educational models such as cottage schools and classical schools are experiencing a revival. I personally receive this as good news. I have long thought that local churches in particular should do more to both encourage and accommodate education grounded in a biblical worldview. Because all education springs forth from a worldview. And the spiritual and educational harm now being done to children because of a Christ-hating, atheistic, demonic worldview that is dominating our public schools has gone on long enough. 

All education is religious. Every teacher has a religion. And a worldview. Every teacher is a disciple-maker. Jesus said, “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). The biblical worldview, which is absolutely and objectively true, tells us repeatedly that we cannot compartmentalize concepts such as educate, train, raise, nurture, instruct, correct and disciple. These terms are synonymous throughout the Holy Scripture. Christians are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience” (2 Cor 10:5-6). 

The Washington Stand recently ran an article that is very worthy of our attention. Author Ben Johnson argues, “This would be an ideal time to get the federal government out of education altogether. Ronald Reagan won two landslide elections while campaigning to abolish the Department of Education. At that time education policy, like post-Roe abortion policy, would revert to the states.” If that is an idea that has not crossed your mind, then you should definitely brush up on the US Constitution! I recommend you read the full article here: https://washingtonstand.com/commentary/public-school-bureaucrats-want-to-choose-your-childs-religion

As a Pastor, I have for decades encouraged Christian parents to seek alternatives to the public schools. This has in no way diminished my love and appreciation for the public school teachers that are members of my flock. I thank God for them and pray regularly for their courageous care of students to shine the light of Christ into dark hearts and dark systems. Nor has my vocal support of home-schooling and doctrinally sound, private Christian schools ever compelled me to treat public school parents and students in my flock like second-class Christians. There is freedom of conscience in this matter, and gospel unity can and must prevail. In other words, if we disagree with each other regarding educational choices, we do so with Christ-like love and respect that enables us to keep proclaiming the gospel together for the glory of God and the salvation of our neighbors near and far. Educational choices do not rise to the level of Doctrines such as the Trinity, the Inerrancy of Scripture, the Person of Jesus as God-man, Salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, the Depravity of Man, and so on. 

That said, the education of the next generation of believers in Jesus Christ is important. It is so important that as a pastor, I am compelled by love for Jesus, for His Church, for families, and for our Nation, to gently but firmly ask every parent of a school-aged child to make an honest assessment. The assessment might need to answer several key questions:

  • Who is really raising my child? If my child spends 40-50+ hours a week with someone other than me, who is really raising my child? 
  • Are there ways to involve my child in extra-curricular activities, such as sports, without having to submit my child to public school classroom instruction? 
  • Are there doctrinally sound alternatives to public schools in my area? Homeschool cooperatives? Private schools? Cottage schools? If not, should I approach my pastor about the possibility of our church’s involvement in such an undertaking?
  • If I homeschool, can I partner with other families in my church to make sure my children are learning key subjects as proficiently as possible? For example, if I am weak in math, can I find a brother or sister in Christ who excels at math and will help teach my child? 
  • How are my educational choices affecting my family’s ability to serve in and through our Church? Do we have time to visit widows, orphans and the sick? To clean the church building every now and then? To employ our spiritual gifts to edify the body? To build accountable relationships that are Word-driven? To practice hospitality to guests and neighbors? To meet practical needs of those around us? To evangelize intentionally?
  • Is my child spiritually mature enough to actually withstand the onslaught against the biblical worldview within the public schools? Is my child spiritually equipped to actually be a missionary or evangelist in the school system? Am I seeing any evangelistic fruit from my child’s gospel witness to friends and peers and teammates? 
  • If I do not have personal access to my child for most of every day of the week, how can I rebuke and correct sins? How can I counsel my child in the ways of the Lord, and in a way that meets his or her ongoing spiritual or emotional struggles in the real world? 
  • Do I have a discipleship plan for my child? If not, should I ask a pastor to help me develop one? Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.
  • If I must use public schools, am I willing to carve out extra time each week to disciple my children and to expose them to godly mentors in the local church?  

These questions strike at the heart of the matter. While politically I maintain that the US Constitution gives the authority for public education only to the States, and not to the Federal Government, the more important matter is the spiritual authority in the lives of our children. All education is spiritual. All education is discipleship. Who we entrust our children to in this life-forming endeavor is a matter to approach with the most reverent prayer and submission the Word of God.