Today, a student in a class where I was substituting suggested that the current education system was not the best. He favored what he thought of as a more European approach, where students began more specialized training for future career or occupation, much sooner than college. He made some excellent points, even for a Christian school student.
Frankly, I believe the need is far more revolutionary, but let me start with this. No responsible Christian parent should assume that their children will receive a quality education in a public school. America’s government run schools are failing. Worse, in my opinion, public education, under the tutelage of grossly progressive education colleges, teacher’s unions, and anti-religiously biased government bureaucrats, have become primarily places of secular progressive, socialist indoctrination.
Proverbs 22:6 puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of parents, when it says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Children spend more time in school than just about anything else except sleep, watch TV, or listen to music. Other than sleep, their “training” is filled with progressive ideology–political correctness, environmentalism, global warming, evolution, gay rights and open sexuality, pro-abortion thinking, and more of the same. Christianity has no place, despite the intent of the First Amendment; kids have been rebuked for carrying a Bible, telling Bible stories, and praying at graduation.
I didn’t start out with this opinion. As a young pastor, I still had a positive opinion of public schools. After all, I graduated from one, and I felt it did me no harm. I didn’t oppose Christian schools, but I didn’t promote them either. Home-schooling was, well, just out there! No more!! I have reversed completely and favor home-schooling. The linchpin of much modern education thinking is “socialization,” which I consider a problem, not a plus. Normal young people will find ways to socialize, regardless of their schooling; but adolescent socializing is one of the biggest barriers to their attending to business, i.e. learning.
So committed are many to this notion that non-English-speaking students are placed in classrooms based on their age (socialization) and not their level of English language proficiency (learning). It’s called mainstreaming, and it puts every kid regardless of learning limitations–vision, hearing, attentiveness, intelligence–in single classrooms, where one teacher must attempt properly to teach them. Since I tutor some of these ESL (English as a Second Language) students, who are in public schools, I see how well the system works…I DOESN’T!! I’ve discussed some of this elsewhere.
People in my own church will disagree. Americans in general are remarkably trusting of teachers, and I know there are some good ones. I also know there are far, far too many bad ones! I used to hear Christians suggest that Christian kids in public schools could be an influence, but that is comparable to a flea influencing a dog. The dog may scratch, but it won’t be good for the flea! Church folks often say they know good teachers who teach in public schools. So do I, but that doesn’t mitigate the damage of the bad ones, nor do Christian teachers have the freedom to teach as Christians.
Some parents have the knowledge, skills, and rapport with their own children to counter the negative influences of the public system; most do not. I don’t understand why any parent wants to put that kind of effort into undoing what schools and teachers do. Furthermore, I see every indication that the poor quality of many schools and teachers is creating a mind-numbingly, counterproductive environment for learning. I have a degree in physics and have taught high school science, and I hate doing most of the science homework sent home with students.
I just don’t see how any of this fits “Train a child in the way he should go.” Yes, I know private schools are expensive. I also know that not every parent is cut out for home-schooling, although more are than realize it. I am convinced that the whole concept of American education needs wholesale change, but that is a topic for another time.
Before I finish though, I need to add one more thing. Government schools are not a constitutionally provided thing. Schools worked best when the local community created and cared for them, without help from the state or federal governments. Now, huge government bureaucracies suck up millions of dollars of revenue without teaching a single student, and top-heavy school administrations eat up tax dollars and always threaten teacher layoffs when money is tight. Somehow they find money to build beautiful buildings, but still complain there’s not enough money. Something needs to change, and it’s not increasing school budgets.
Still not convinced? Check out Martin Gross’s book, Conspiracy of Ignorance. Despite my own personal experiences and observations, I had no idea just how bad things had become.