Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Christians and the Public School System

A recent discussion caused me to think about the public school system and the role Christians have in it. In recent years, there have been several well-known Christian leaders who have suggested that Christians should pull their children out of public schools. Most recently, Albert Mohler and John Piper have been pushing this idea. The basic argument is that parents shouldn’t subject their children to the liberal agenda of the National Educator’s Association (NEA).

The problem I see with Christian parents pulling their kids out of public school is that schools are like a pan of salt water. If you taste the water and it isn’t salty, you add salt. If you start taking the salt out and putting it back in the shaker, it becomes less salty. In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus called us the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” Most of us will agree that public schools are lacking salt and light. And most of us will agree that the kids who are attending public schools have a great need for salt and light. So, the question is, how do we correct that problem?

My view is that we need more Christian teachers in public schools. Even if these teachers never have an opportunity to tell their students about Jesus, they are an example to these kids in how they ought to live. Even if the State requires them to cover topics they don’t agree with, the students are likely to see that the teacher doesn’t share the State’s view on the subject.

We also need to send Christian students into the public schools. Where teachers are limited in what they can tell their students about Jesus, students have an opportunity to share the gospel freely. That’s not to say that we should expect students to take over the class and preach a sermon. No, think instead of a non-Christian child stating something his parents have said and a Christian friend saying, “that’s not right.”

But there is more that we can do. Did you know that many schools are looking for volunteers? You don’t have to have a teaching certificate to volunteer, you just need to be an upstanding citizen. Can you imagine how much more salt and light there would be in public schools if parents would not only send their kids, but would go to school too?

Now here’s the really cool thing. Because I wanted to mention the possibility of volunteering at schools, I did a search on one of the school districts in our area. In the search results, I found a list of volunteers receiving recognition for their service. The very first name on the list is a member of our church!

I understand the desire of parents to protect their children from the evil they see in public schools. And if we look at each family in isolation, that may cause us to look toward Christian private schools and homeschooling as the solution. But when we look at the big picture and remember our call to carry the gospel to the world, things look different. The more Christian students we put in private schools, the more Christian teachers we will have to pull out of public schools. The more parents who homeschool their kids, the fewer parents we have who can volunteer at school. Carried to its full conclusion, what we end up with are public schools funded with our tax dollars that are completely devoid of salt and light. On the other hand, if we send Christian teachers to work in public schools, Christian students to influence their friends, and Christian parents to volunteer at school, Satan’s influence over the public school system will be greatly diminished.