Is This a Sane Way to Rear Children?

July 20, 2008

by Tammy Drennan


My brother John and his wife Jill* have had their kids in Christian school for fifteen years. Their school bill at its peak was $15,000 a year – not bad for four children, but still a big chunk of money. They remained true to their commitment even the year John was hardly able to work due to some surgery.


This year their bill is lower – only $5000 – but times have been tough and they weren’t sure how they’d raise the money. Then someone from their church heard about their need and footed the whole bill.


I’m deeply thankful to that donor and extremely proud of my brother for his long-term commitment to his children’s education.


The school my brother’s children attend is clearly doing something right, as I recently learned first-hand. They found themselves in a financial crisis to the tune of $250,000. I helped the fundraising effort by setting up a donation web site. I was immensely impressed by all the comments and pledges submitted to the site by parents of students (people already paying tuition), former students, and teachers (who are already working for far lower than market wages).


Private, Christian education is not a matter of “if we can manage it” to these people – it’s their top priority for their children. It’s an integral part of their lives.


School isn’t someplace they send the kids off to in the morning and pick them up from at night – it’s an extension of their homes and the principles and values they wish to instill in their children. They expect their school to reinforce their values and they facilitate the process. School is hands-on for these parents. And the time they put in is not in trying to keep the school from harming their children; instead, school and family are engaged in a joint effort toward the same goals.


Now look at the typical Christian interaction with public schools. The kids are in state schools and the parents and their churches and endless Christian organizations and activists are working their fingers to the bone trying to counteract the effects of their children’s schooling. For twelve+ years of their children’s lives, public school parents do battle with the people they’ve chosen to help shape those children’s intellects, emotions, social and moral practices, and worldviews. The battle rages on year after year, the children pulled one way then another. Legislators and unions and courts and social activists and psychologists and the medical profession and thousands of other organizations and individuals weigh in on the conflict.


Does this sound like a sane way to rear children? It seems we’ve drifted so far from sanity that when we see it – when we see a situation where school and parents respect one another and have identical goals – we view that as odd, even as unnatural.


And in the meantime, we continue to run our children through the gamut of state schooling where grasping hands claw from every doorway and try to dig their nails into innocent minds and souls and drag them into their camps to devour them.


Some good soul cared enough about my brother’s children to make a sacrifice for their future. Many of us cannot manage such a large contribution, but I think we can all find some way to help a family choose independence. If we have no money at all, we can encourage, share a story about a dedicated family, help with chores or babysitting, tutor, teach a skill or class. If we have money, we can contribute some where we think it will do the most good.


It’s going to take all of us working together to slay the many-headed monster that’s eating our children alive, but I believe we’re up to the task.


*Names changed for privacy purposes.