Contend Earnestly: Should I Private School My Kids?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Should I Private School My Kids?

It has definitely been an interesting ride so far in this series that is only 1/4 done. What I want to reiterate once again is that I do not have a bias against or for any type of schooling as long as the decision is first and foremost for the glory of God and mission that he has put your family on. The outcome of that understanding should be the decision on how to school your children, not the other way around. For whatever reason, people have taken this thought and have used it to make is sound like I have something against homeschooling...which is just not true. Just because my family won't be homeschooling or private schooling doesn't mean that I am against it. I am just against it for my family, because it isn't God's will for us. It is like me saying that I am not for my family going to Africa and living there at this point, because God has me on mission here in my great state of Washington. Does this mean I am against, or biased against those families that have chosen to be on mission in Africa? Not at all.

Okay, enough said about that. Let's get to private schooling. What I want to make clear, so that this is easier to follow, is that when I am speaking of private schooling your child, I am speaking about private schooling in an evangelical Christian private school. Some of these pros and cons might cross over to any private school, but some may not, but I wanted you to know what my premise was as you read.


God Centered Education

I will say that this is definitely not the case at every Christian private school that I have witnessed, but if you choose a private school I would hope that this is one of the great pros that you can "boast" about. The nice thing about private schooling is that the Bible is usually brought up in almost every classroom setting and the kids have the Bible as a staple in their backpacks. The teachers will keep them on task in an understanding that God is the creator, that he is the sustainer and he is the reason for life and breath and all things. This is a wonderful pro for private schooling your children. Your child gets to hear it at home and at school the wonders of God. If it is a really good school the teachers will bring up past geniuses in the field of study to show how their faith impacted their studies, such as Jonathan Edwards.

Overall, this is a really nice addition to what the child will be learning at home and great confirmation for the child to be able to hear and discuss Christian topics in an environment that hopefully expects and supports the critical thinking of Christian convictions.

You Get to Choose the School

The variety of Christian schooling is wide. You can choose everything from the watered down gospel school that gives hugs at the door to the name it and claim it school where for some reason it is the kids fault if they get an "F" on a paper because they didn't have enough faith. The good thing is that, for the most part, the parent can enjoy a plethora of choices when they decide to private school their child. Unless you live in the back hills of some state with no mountains or trees, then you are stuck with making dresses and covered wagons with the Amish. But, hey, it probably doesn't cost that much to go to that school since you can barter with them.

If the parent is on mission for their family, this choice should be made carefully and for specific purposes that God has laid on your heart. You might be making a choice based more on theological convictions than education, or vice versa, depending on where you honestly feel that God is setting your child in place at. For the most part, from what I have seen, the administrative staff at these schools are pretty open and honest about what they offer and what they refuse to change, which is what you want up front when choosing a school.

The Fight Is Less Daunting

For the most part, the private school that you choose will probably be an extension of the home and not in stark contrast. This, again, is not always the case, but for the most part usually is. I am not saying that the parents will not be involved or have times of conflict (which I will confront more in the common misconceptions post), but if you have chosen a school carefully, you won't have to make decisions on whether your child is taught sex education too early (or at all), have to decide if your child will attend diversity day at school, or have to continually battle against a Godless creation.

For the most part, this is a good thing for the parents and child involved in private school.


Can Set up Walls Against the Gospel

Notice I said, "can set up walls." This doesn't mean that it will always happen this way or is a definite. But, what can happen within a private school is the idea of privilege and set up walls to where the regular Joe is never seen or befriended. It can become an "us and them" mentality. The parent's role in this becomes difficult when the other parents are rolling around in expensive cars (while idolizing them) and their kids look like they are miniature Donald Trumps just trying to get through school so they can become the next great entrepreneur (these guys/gals need Jesus too, which will also be in the misconceptions post). If the parent becomes lazy in fighting this mindset, then the walls will start to be built and the poor and needy can start to be looked at as a burden instead of having the Imago Dei needing the transformation of Jesus. The school can start to look more like a gated community trying to keep all the riff-raff out and the ones who belong in. Which isn't the gospel, so parents, keep the fight against this.

We want our children to understand that all people need Jesus and whether you go to private, public or home school, God sees everyone of them the same and all need Jesus regardless. If the parent becomes lazy in this area, pride can be built within the child and soon enough James 2 starts reading with the child's name inserted as the one needing to be corrected.

Diversity of Theology

This will also be put in my public school post as well and can be a pro and a con. I personally went to a Free Methodist University that believed in free will and Arminian thought. What did I get out of it? I actually became Reformed. Pretty interesting to say the least. Although the private school will teach about Jesus, the theology can sometimes be quite poor. The watered down gospel can be taught, weird thoughts on hell, creation, and the infallibility and plenary Word can be challenged. Just because it is labeled as "Christian" doesn't mean that the theology is correct. Like I said, this can be a pro or a con, depending on how you see it. If the parent is on top of things, I think that the child can benefit greatly from being challenged in their theological beliefs. This is exactly what I got out of a University that believed in women pastors and where the Old Testament professors thought the fables of the OT were cute and done well for the little kids. It really made me think and understand the reasons why I believed what I believed.

So this can go in two ways. If the parent isn't on top of this, the child can get some strange things taught to them that will honor man and not God. On the other hand, if the parent is quite involved (and loves their child), they can critically think through the issues with their child and help them develop discernment and a God centered theology.

It is sad when I see a child let loose to private school and the parents seem to almost say, "Phew, glad that school has it handled, see you when you're 18."

The decision to private school is no different than the decision to homeschool or public school. The parents need to diligently pray, go to the Scriptures and come to a decision where they feel the Lord is putting their family on mission for His glory. This has to be the first thought for it to be truly God honoring. The decisions and understanding don't stop there for the parent of a private schooled child. They will need to continue to get out of the child more than "we learned about God today" from the child. With liberal theology continually creeping into the minds of the conservative, it can come in small doses without the careful parent noticing.

To an extent the job of a private school parent is not that different than a public school parent, just happens in different ways with different focuses. But, the biggest focus for our children has to be, "Son/daughter, how did you glorify God today in your actions and thoughts today at school?"


Josh R said...

I would add this... In a private school, the teachers work for you.. If I bring up an issue with them, the will generally be sensitive to my concern, while a state employed teacher may be far less accommodating.

Not all private schools are God Centered.. The one that my children are in is not. It is totally secular, aside from being in the basement of a church.

My kids school has a student to teacher ratio somewhere in the vicinity of 6 or 7. You are not going to get that in public school.

Jonspach said...

If I had the money, I'd private school instead of home school. In my mind the cons listed here are very avoidable depending on the school you choose...

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