I recently joined an online Christian mommies group and came across a discussion debating the merits of sending your kids to a secular/public school vs a private Christian school or homeschooling.
Having attending public schools all my life (well, technically the university I attended is a private institution but it does not have a religious affiliation), I was shocked at how many Christian moms were against public schools.
J and I have had many discussions about sending our children to private vs public schools. J has attended private schools all his life (he even attended boarding school in England) and thinks that private schools offer the best education. I see no problem with public schools just as long as the area we’re living in has a good school district. We are still undecided on a final answer, but luckily we have some time before a decision needs to be made.
However, the topic on hand isn’t a “private vs public” discussion. It is a “secular vs Christian” one.
The argument for sending your kids to private Christian schools, or even homeschooling them, is so protect them from outside influences that might derail their faith. One mom even likened sending her daughter to public schools to “throwing her into a lion’s den.” Many Christian mothers feel that their children would be exposed to non-Christian ideas, experiences and influences at public schools, and that children should not have to defend their faith at such young ages.
Most also agree that discussion and exposure to other beliefs and lifestyles should be introduced by the parents under controlled environments, and guided by them in accordance with what each individual child is mature enough to process at any given point, not by the child’s peers or teachers.
My own experience has obviously shaped my opinions regarding this discussion, because I strongly disagree.
I attended public schools all my life and I am very grateful for it. Since I was exposed to various religions, ideas, and even the “bads” of the world starting at an early age, I am now even more confident than ever in my beliefs. If anything, knowing about different religions and lifestyles (and befriending those whose religions and lifestyles differ from mine) has strengthened my faith.
As a youth group teacher at my old church, I noticed that my students who attend public schools were often more mature and prepared to handle the secular world because they have had to decide their faith earlier in life.
I have also met many people at my university who attended private Christian schools before coming to college. They were generally less prepared, both emotionally and spiritually, to be out in the secular world on their own.
I believe that children are susceptible to potentially harmful ideas and influences whether you choose to send them to a Christian school or not. Even homeschooling does not guarantee a child free from unfavorable experiences (unless you plan on keeping your child in a box). You cannot shelter them forever.
How will they fight for God and their faith if they do not know the enemy?
Lastly, you can’t discount the potential for your children to be ambassadors of God. You never know what kind of light your child will shine in a public school.
So, as of now (barring the future addition of policies that will openly persecute Christians in public schools), I am fully willing to send my children, who will be raised in a Christian household, to public schools. I will keep them in prayer, make sure that they have a strong support network of Christian friends in the church, and encourage them to discern what is best for them and their faith.
I think that this question is applicable to my non-Christian readers as well:
Will/do you choose not to send your public schools in fear that
they will be exposed to unfavorable ideas and experiences?