By President Randall A. Bach
What should we, particularly Christians, do about public schools? Do we stay in or move out to private schools or to homeschooling? I will be candid in my response to the question: I have been torn and conflicted for some time about what we should do. I have been on a painstaking journey regarding where to land regarding this question.
I have been a longtime advocate of Christians placing their kids in public schools and becoming active voices within their school systems, participating in parent-teacher conferences, and becoming members of school boards. My concern has been: if Christians abandon public schools, what influence will we have left regarding their direction? Will we merely abdicate and surrender by retreating? Does separation mean isolation, building cocooning walls of protection around our children? Do we not believe that the Spirit who lives in us is greater than the spirit who lives in the world (1 John 4:4)?
However, the following observations are influencing my thinking about public schools today. Every parent must prayerfully sort through this matter. Again, these are my personal observations, and you have freedom to disagree:
- The public school never was (in the lifetimes of current readers) an ally of Christian values. However, the public school was for decades respectfully deferential to Christianity and to the role of churches in community life. Christians in public school leadership and Christian teachers had considerable latitude to shape instruction in ways that were at least compatible with Christian values. We have been witnessing the public school migrating from respectful deference for Christian values to hostility against them.
- Public schools are filled with dedicated teachers who truly love and care about students. However, they are under intense pressure to support politically motivated agendas that for Christian teachers are contrary to the Word of God, and for teachers who may not be Christians but are good and moral people, require them to abandon traditions of moral decency and respect.
- Teachers’ unions have largely been taken over by people for whom politics drives their quest to dominate and to make teachers knuckle under to their political agendas.
- Publishers of curriculum have been increasingly commandeered to produce curriculum that is written by or approved by LGBTQ+ elements, with the goal of normalizing and promoting sexual origin and identity stances that are in stark contrast to and in conflict with the Bible.
- While we Christians were asleep, many school boards across the nation were taken over by advocates of lifestyles that are offensive to Christians. Or the boards have become led by members who feel helpless to speak up about federally driven campaigns such as enforcing access to locker rooms and restrooms according to perceived sexual gender and allowing biological males to compete as females because of their claims to female gender identification. The pace of this takeover has been mind-boggling. How did we so quickly descend into this abyss?
- Because of the above, public schools can become an advocacy center for gender dysphoria, which is a recruiting pathway to convincing children their sexual identity is different from their biological gender. Children become targeted prey.
Wow! Here again are my opening questions: What should we, particularly Christians, do about public schools? Do we stay in or move out to private schools or to homeschooling? I do not claim to have the final answers; however, here is how I am processing the questions:
- If your child is too young to understand motivations behind instruction and to discern masked agendas, in other words to think independently, I believe you should consult with other parents who have had young children in the school system. How safe is the school in terms of protecting children from predators? What is the track record and reputation of the administration and faculty in terms of listening to and respecting concerns of parents? While you can’t seal your child in a pristine bubble away from all ungodly influences (could we come up with something like that until, say, age 25?), you are keenly aware of your responsibility to protect your child from harm. Schools are not automatically the safe zones that some of us experienced in a different era.
- If your child is spiritually mature with deeply held biblical convictions, not just timid extensions of what his or her parents believe, then the public school could be his or her mission field! Children will look into the face of the enemy when they are besieged with efforts to pull them away from Christ and will have opportunity to tell Satan, “Get thee behind me!” Children who successfully run that gauntlet while keeping their relationship with Jesus strong and their biblical foundation intact will be prepared to take on life after they leave school. However, many children are impressionable and simply could not stand strong against the wiles of the enemy. If I were their parent, I believe I would look for an alternative to today’s public school, but not an academically inferior alternative. Yes, some children can be masters of deception with their parents. May the Lord help parents with discernment and objectivity.
- If your child remains in the public school, become a student of curriculum. Know what comes next and preemptively cover values related to those subjects at home.
- Monitor school board policies and actions. Know where a parachute is packed if you must remove your child from the public school. Have Plan B ready.
- Do not turn your child into an embarrassed combat victim because of your angry tirades to the school. Model vigilance through respectful but unwavering communication concerning what is taught to your child. Keep your wits and emotions submitted to the Holy Spirit’s control instead of going ballistic in your interactions. You are a witness for Christ.
- Weigh the costs of educational alternatives and carefully assess their track records for effectiveness. Are students from those alternatives accepted by colleges and do students readily handle that progression? No, not all children will go to college, and many should not, but be cautious about embracing inferiority in education.
Yes, I have been conflicted and torn about what parents should do today about the public school. I have outlined my journey for you. I encourage you to pray about your choices. Ask for wisdom coupled with courage. Your child is absolutely worth it!
About the Author
Randall A. Bach delights in opportunities to serve the Lord, including his current assignment as president of Open Bible Churches. He earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Regent University. Randall and Barbara, his wife, have been in ministry almost as long as they have been married. They are grateful to have celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2021. Randall loves the church, pastors, and church leaders and is convinced that God loves to work through them to make disciples, develop leaders, and plant churches. A voice for Evangelicals, his work has been featured in several publications, including Ethics: The Old Testament, The New Testament, and Contemporary Application. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the National Association of Evangelicals.Randall has produced and edited several publications and other resources, including the Message of the Open Bible, We Believe: Core Truths for Christian Living, and a doctrinal course for youth called We Believe for Kids! He also led the creation of Acquire, Open Bible’s online leadership development site.