by Tammy Drennan
Even if you don’t subscribe to any religion, I think you’ll find this worth thinking about. We can usually draw lessons from a variety of viewpoints. Thanks for reading.
Note: For the sake of brevity, I use the terms religious, people of faith and Christian interchangeably and rather loosely in this article.
People of faith are by far the largest group most likely to be concerned about the effect public schools have on their children. They’re the largest group most likely to complain. And they’re the largest group most likely to remove their children from state schools. Sadly, that’s not saying much.
The vast majority of children who come from religious homes go to public schools, where their faith is marginalized at best and derided at worst. Religious leaders are concerned, sort of. Repairing the damage done to Christian children reared in state schools that, by their institutional and secular nature, disregard most of what contributes to an emotionally, socially, spiritually and intellectually healthy life is a big industry (or ministry, depending on your outlook).
Churches pour zeal and massive amounts of money into missions, special programs, technology, buildings, decoration, all the while expecting – even demanding – that the state rear their children to be the sort of people who will remain faithful and spiritually healthy members. When it doesn’t happen, when the exact opposite happens, Christians whine, demand, and send out alarmist literature. But they don’t take their children back.
More than one person has asked the obvious question: Why would you turn over the most precious thing in your life, the most important thing to your religion, the very lifeblood of the kingdom of God, to the State to be taught how to think, what’s important, and how to live?
From an outsider’s perspective, religion couldn’t be too serious a thing if it doesn’t even take to heart the cultivation of its children until the weeds are so thick they threaten to choke the life out of them. And even then, instead of transplanting, they just spray weed killer on them.
Churches and religious groups everywhere could literally change the face of education in this country, if they were willing. Imagine, if you will, churches pulling together over the economic spectrum to empower parents to rear their own children, helping one another, as the Bible and other religious texts exhort. Imagine not huge institutions, but endless, imaginative options for schooling where children would be loved and nurtured and educated to intellectual and moral excellence. Imagine the strong, confident adults these children would grow into. Imagine the possibilities.
It is within the power of the church today to rescue its children from the disaster of state schooling. It will take a reordering of priorities, uncompromising commitment, thinking outside the box about what education should look like (why should it look like the government?), and reaching out to help where help is needed.
The church could set the standard for a new model of education – independent, vital, family-oriented, diverse, and excellent.
The door of opportunity still sits ajar, but it won’t remain open forever. The trend of increasing authoritarianism and government control of children grows. Freedom has gone so long unexercised that it is weak and vulnerable. Already, the state is taking advantage of the weakness. We must begin to exercise our liberty muscles now, before they atrophy altogether.
The future is one of hope and possibility, but only if we choose it.