The second form of education we will be covering this week is the Private School system. ‘Private School’ can mean a lot of different things covering a broad spectrum from charter schools that are basically public, to all boy or girls schools; or catholic schools, to protestant schools. Charter schools and other secular private schools really would fall better under the realm of the public school system for the sake of this argument, so we’ll cover them on Saturday. What I’d like to cover today is really the Christian private schools, and since there are factors that would exclude it, I’m going to leave out catholic schools altogether. If you were really hoping to hear my take on catholic schools you can ask.
Christian schools in America are actually quite popular. Many God fearing parents will choose form of education over the other options. The biggest reason for choosing a Christian school is because parents want to build the education of their children on the foundation of the Word of God. But is this foundation really stable?
The History of Religious Schools
The private Christian school movement really gained momentum at the beginning of the twentieth century. During this time, immigration to the US was at it’s peek. Many of the people coming over to the Americas were looking for a chance for freedom and a new start. However, a lot of these immigrants were catholic: mostly from Italy or Ireland. When they arrived on the shores of Ellis Island, they were welcomed into our society, but they did not feel welcome in our schools. At that time, the Bible was a prominent textbook in the public school system.
These catholics were staunch on their beliefs and refused to send their kids to the protestant public schools so they created their own private schools. Not to be outdone, the protestants decided to create their own schools. With both the catholics and the protestants leaving the public schools, it didn’t take very long for the public schools to adapt to secular values, but that’s a topic for another day.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Now that you know a little of the history of where they came from, it is important to ask some questions about the advantages and disadvantages of this form of education. We know that Christians schools have been around for some time now. Have they been effective? How are they fairing? And what is the likelihood that it will have a long lasting, positive effect on your children?
Advantage 1: Christian schools base their teaching on the foundation of the Word of God. This is the number one reason I hear people offer as to why they send their children to a Christian school. The public schools are compromised and they want a firm foundation for their children. But are they getting it? Statistics seem to be showing otherwise. As I noted yesterday from the book Already Gone by Ken Ham, the past several decades have not really paid off for keeping these children in church when they become adults. Still, it’s undeniable that there are advantages to being under the hearing of the Bible.
Disadvantage 1: Not all the students are redeemed. The problem with the Christian school is that they can’t be so exclusive to only include Christians. They may have a particular criteria to get into the school, but they cannot ensure that the kids are all born-again, solid believers. Certainly it’s a more manageable mix than the public schools, but determining who’s who may be a harder task than most realize.
Advantage 2: Children will learn the principles of the Bible to ensure a better life. Certainly, being under the teaching of the Bible will have it’s advantages. We want our kids to grow up knowing Scripture, learning to pray, and fearing God. The Bible courses will offer a solid foundation for Christian living. However, they have to be born-again and actively pursuing God for this to truly take affect.
Disadvantage 2: Unbelievers will be offered moralistic teachings that don’t have any actual power apart from Christ. This was my mentor, Colin Smith’s, biggest issue with Christian schools. Since there are unbelievers interspersed with the believers, you teach them the same promises. But when an unbelieving student prays and doesn’t get answers, they grow to resent God. When they try and be holy without the power of the Spirit and fail, they will rebel against God. These are the natural affects of offering the promises of God to those who are not redeemed.
Whenever I get into a discussion about Christian schools with parents I usually hear the same arguments for it: They teach good morals, and they teach the Bible. Well, what if you’re kid isn’t saved? What good is that for them? For a teen growing up in the church and in a Christian school thinking he is saved, there are drastic consequences. Hence, why we’re losing so many from their generation.
The real debate over Christian schools is a little bit hidden under the surface. Many of these parents would really like to see the Judeo-Christian public school system we had back in the day before we needed to create our own schools. Many of them will say that those days were great because everyone was nice to each other and people went to church. Here’s the problem with that argument: It’s just moralistic teaching. The Bible is about a lot more than just being nice to each other and going to church. Those times may seem appealing, but they also helped cause the situation we are in today. It is not enough to simply substitute the moral teachings of Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Our culture may be compromised, but it lends itself to an opportunity to actually be salt and light instead of just play church.
If push came to shove and I had to offer a score for the school systems, Christian schools would probably come in last place. There are too many negative drawbacks for me: a blind faith in the system, watered down moralistic teachings, wolves in sheep’s clothing, etc. I think I’d rather just educate them myself. Still, it is a valid form of education and if you find a good school, with great teachers who you trust, and are committed to being involved in your children’s education, it just might be worth it. But if you’re going to go that far, just homeschool the bugger.