Contend Earnestly: Should I Public School My Kids?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Should I Public School My Kids?

From what I have found with this series is that the answer to the above asked question, is simply "no" and then people move on. What I will be doing is writing three posts on this topic. The first two are the same as I have done with the other two schooling convictions, but I will also include "common questions" to the Common Misconceptions post and I will also have a post where I will put forth "Why My Family Has Decided to Public School". I will put most of my reasons in the last post for us personally. Also, please remember that just because I see a pro for something doesn't necessarily mean that I believe the opposite about homeschooling or private schooling...if you want...try asking and I will answer my thoughts on the other schooling options if you want clarification.



Some parents find this to be a big negative. But, I find diversity in race, thought, culture and personalities to be a huge positive. With the public school system you have others around your children with amazing stories of where their family is from and why their families believe what they believe. America is now a hotbed for diversity in races and religions and this doesn't go unnoticed in the public school system. I heard one missional speaker say that where we once had to go overseas to preach to the Muslim and Hindu, now we just have to attend a block party in our community to reach these same people. The public school system will give the child a good understanding of other races and convictions in front of them every day. They don't just read about other races and cultures in books but their friends and school mates become a living example of who these people are and what these cultures are all about.

Critical Thinking Through Training and Practice

The public school system is definitely an interesting one. The child will be confronted with things like the big bang theory, alternative lifestyles, differing religious beliefs, atheistic beliefs, challenges to Christianity and lots of temptations. I don't think anyone is surprised that these things happen and are far reaching in the public school system. What this allows the parent to do with the child though is to train them at home and allow them to practice their critical thinking in real life with real teachers and real friends. What is also great about this is that the kid then comes back home to the parent, where the training is continued and critical thinking challenged.

When the child comes home and has befriended a Mormon or Muslim that live a seemingly holy life and are very friendly, the parent has the opportunity to speak to their child about the hardships and differences that this friendship will pose. When these friends challenge the faith or convictions of the child, the family stands there ready to help and aid in a loving defense of orthodox Christianity. This is part of training a child, for them to hear the other side, see the other side, be challenged by the other side and still know why they believe what they believe. The parent, if involved with the child, gets the opportunity to aid the child every day with these challenges as they live in their house and train the child with these daily challenges to the faith.

I have seen it many a times that when the ultra homeschooler or ultra private schooler gets out on their own and are challenged by loving people of other faiths and convictions, and they are not sure how to respond. They think, "these people love God as much as I do, live a life better than I do and have great arguments against my convictions and great reasons why to follow theirs...what now?" I am not saying this happens all the time, but I have seen it happen over and over again, where the faith of the child is not theirs at all, but the parents. The parents have told them what to believe, instead of why to believe. Meaning, the heart has been left out of the was a conversion of the mind only. When only the mind has been converted, the mind can change its decision when seemingly better argumentation is posed. The child has walked the way of the parent because they know no other way personally. Then, when they get out on their own, they aren't sure how to respond or critically think through issues themselves. Hear me again...this doesn't always happen, but I have seen it happen enough to where I definitely worry for those who shelter their children so much that they have very little or no contact with the secular world. A soldier that is only trained and never allowed to enter war, does not really know how to fight.

The Lost are at the Public School

The public school is filled with those who need Jesus. Jesus went to where sinners were, and I want my family to go where sinners are and live like Jesus lived. In Matthew 5 as Jesus is speaking to the crowd he tells them that they are the salt of the earth and like a city set on a hill, a light to the world. You might notice that Christ is speaking to the crowd and starts showing who a real disciple of his is. What is interesting is that he is speaking to them in a group context. We should gather that since Christ uses the simile of a city, that he is first speaking to the universal church as a whole being a light (the representatives of the City of God), then the individual churches in each region, then families in those churches and then the individual. We are collectively called to be the light of the world, and this doesn't excuse the children of those under the New Covenant. My children are called to honor me, notice it doesn't say, honor your father and mother, unless you are a non-Christian. My children show the light of Christ by obeying me and honoring me. Now will this continue to grow in a child who then has his/her own belief in Jesus? Yes, of course. But, sometimes we are also a light when we have a non-believing child and we show how a loving Christian parent responds in these circumstances. This is exactly what God put forth with the people of Israel...there were both believers and non-believers in Israel, but all were expected to show off the glory of God. So much so, that if the parents sinned, the children died too. So much so, that if the child was in a pattern of disbelief and dishonoring to the parents, they were stoned to death.

When I send my children to the public school they are witnesses of the glories of Christ, whether they specifically mention Christ or not. Actually most of our lives are spent showing off Christ in our actions, not in our speaking the specifics of Christian orthodoxy. Not only do the children get to be witnesses to those at the public school, but us parents get the opportunity to be around other parents and teachers and live out Jesus for them as well. They get to see that we are just like them, sinners, but sinners who trust in Jesus for our righteousness.

We, as a family, are confronted with those who hate Jesus and don't live to glory God every day when we go to the public schools. What an amazing opportunity. So, when the child wears the lame "WWJD" bracelet, I get to tell them, "Jesus would go to where the sinners are and show them love and redemption every day for the glory of God."


Very Hard Fight

This is the greatest con, in my opinion. When one decides to public school their child, it is going to be a battle (but so is all of life). This won't be in every classroom, but in some you will have some battles on your hand as some things will directly come against your own convictions. This comes by way of books the English class will read, the negativity that can be met against creation in science, the diversity of the family make up in health class and of course, just the day to day encounters with students with all kinds of opinions and weird understandings of life. The parent needs to know that the fight isn't one where you just play defense, but you play offense. You are always training the child truth, so when they hear or see a derivation of that truth, they see it clearly. When the FBI studies how to spot a fake dollar, they spend more time examining the real thing than all the counterfeits. This is the same with the child and the parent. The parent must be involved in the training of the child.

Not only this, but the parent should also be prepared to read textbooks, literature and homework assignments to know what the child is being taught so that they are up to date with what the child is being confronted with. This can get tiring, but if you feel as though God has placed your family on mission in the public school system, this is a step that must be taken. I have a very good friend who has made this decision and has had two children go through the public school system and has two more going through it now. Their family is an amazing example of how to be involved as a parent. I will talk to them incessantly as we take on this challenge as a family and continue to look up to them as a Christlike family on mission for God's glory.

Also know though that it's not like the math teacher will be having story problems that say, "When Jesus died and never rose from the grave, and Peter started running at a rate of 5 miles per hour and left at 2pm, how fast did Thomas have to run to catch up to him if he left at 5pm to write false gospels?"

The Crazy Teacher

Some teachers are nuts. If a parent runs into one of these, it can be very daunting. Some teachers have an agenda to push and desire to destroy the conservative Christian convictions. You have to know that this might happen if you are in the public school system. I personally had a science teacher in high school like this, so I used to make fun of him and call him a liar when he taught something contrary to the Bible. I literally yelled, "liar" when he spoke something opposite of the biblical truths. I wasn't the best example, but he took it like a champ and we used to make fun of each other a lot. The point is that there will be teachers that are literally trying to convert your child to their form of teaching. It could be teachers who are atheists, polytheists or agnostics. They will desire to try and convert and demean your child. Know this going in and work with that teacher, but also teach your child not to be like me when I was in high school. Humility and meekness are attributes that win most debates in the eyes of others. Tell them to listen often and talk when the Spirit leads. But, don't leave your child to fend for themselves, you must, as a parent, stand up and defend your child to the teacher and the administration, but you must do it in a way that is Christlike and shows the glory of the One who redeemed you.

This is a huge con, but one that can be worked with and in the end, can actually build great character, strength and conviction within your child as they watch how you respond and defend the faith.

Those Stupid Sinners

A pro of public school is that they are filled with sinners, and a con of public school is that they are filled with sinners. What is interesting is that your child and you are sinners too. The difference is Whom you love and trust. But, this is a con for your child to be around influences all day that you don't have control over. I already put why this can be a great pro, but there are some scary cons as well. Your child will probably be confronted with sex, drugs, violence and immorality that the bible prohibits and this can happen sooner than you might like your child to be exposed to these things. This happens with the kids who are there. Know that your child will be around darkness as he walks the hallways and talks and has fellowship with the other kids. This is why a parent must discipline with the gospel and not like a Pharisee. You want your child to be able to come to you to offer up his challenges and struggles at school without the fear that you will ground him or spank him the first chance you get. I have told my 6 year old that if he comes to me with a sin that he is struggling with, that he will never get a spanking for it. I told him that if he struggles with lying or anger towards others to come and talk to daddy and know that I am here to aid and love him, not to act as if I have never struggled with those things and treat him like I am some sort of saint.

If you continually show this to your child and show that you are there to aid in their struggles and temptations, they will be more apt to come to you when they see or hear things that concern them instead of keeping them from you. Does this mean that it will always happen this way? Of course not...but God tells us that if we train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. So, although most schools hand out guns and porn at the door, you will be able to teach your child that those things should be thrown away, or at least sold for a good healthy profit. ;)

More will be discussed in the Common Misconceptions and Often Asked Questions in the next post. I will cover things like Deuteronomy 6 and also Luke 6:40 and how I can read and study these things and still send my child to public school.

Until then, may God's grace abound, may His will be perfected on earth as it is in heaven and may I follow Him wherever he leads.


Jamie Huson said...

I agree with your points for both pros and cons. On a side note, my 9th grade science teacher told us the goal of life was to "spread your seed" (reproduce) as much as possible to ensure our genes passed on to future generations. He also told us Christmas lights were killing the earth. I still got an A!

Josh R said...

I would suggest that there is actually and underlying unity in thought that is probably a bigger threat than the diversity. It is difficult to combat because it is subtle and seems objective, but there is a humanist thread through most all curriculum.

It isn't really the crazy teacher that is the threat. They are much too obvious. It is the subtle "not wrong, but not quite right" underlying philosophy that is the real threat.

The problem with confronting this issue is that it is 90 percent right. When you fuss about the 10% you seem mighty picky. And everyone else in their life sees the 90% as 100% and gives them high praise for it. But the 10% that is missing is the Cornerstone. It is very difficult to add the cornerstone after you realize that it is missing.

Seth McBee said...

Jamie...brutal and a little funny.


That's why the parent doesn't just play defense, awaiting what will be said that is wrong, but always playing offense as well and focusing their family on the truth of the Cross.

That's why good counterfeit dollar bills work so well and why the devil is so amazing at what he does...a little error. Parents need to know this and always be ready, along with the child.

Thanks for the comment

Mike said...

In my experience, home school has an all out benefit to my son's social skills, not a detriment. When I compare his behavior to his cousins, (they were more or less raised by peers in public schools) he is able to interact confidently with a wider range of people.

Like the ancient Greek aphorism "Know Thyself", I think my son knows himself. It is easier to socialize, be competitive and have meaningful relationships if you first "Know Thyself". It is very hard for children to achieve this in most public schools ( in the USA at least).

Raising a child the right way requires a level of commitment that is higher than any public school can achieve… and YES, children are raised by teachers and peers at the school; the parents become estranged over the years.

Excuses for not homeschooling are just a lack of commitment (copout?) to your child. Period.

Seth McBee said...

Your comment is very naive when you say that my child will be raised by teachers and peers and is a lack of commitment.

Let me ask, are you a Christian?

I'll hold off until I find out your answer to this question.

Becky said...

I don't believe social skills are the point here. Instead, it's about God's glory. How can He be most glorified in the context of a family's situation. As a former homeschooler, I can testify that this can be accomplished in a variety of ways (homeschool, private school, and public school).

If you notice the parental involvement that Seth describes above, it is not the "lack of commitment to your child" that you mention. In order for public school parents to stay actively involved in their child's training, it takes a lot of effort. You can send your child to public school solely for babysitting purposes, but if Jesus is a parent's motivation this will not be the case.

Mike said...

@McBee- why is it naïve? Public school children spend more time with other people than they do with their parents. School aged children are easily malleable by peers and teachers.
As far as lack of commitment, this is obvious in today's society; people are disconnected from their own children on so many levels. Sooo.. why is it naïve?

What does it matter what religion I am… I half expect your next question to include my race/sex or national origin.

I am a father… a dedicated father.

Mike said...

It seems like this blog has NOTHING to do with education, only religious views.

Seth McBee said...

The reason I say that it is naive...which I will get into on my common misconceptions post is that the school actually doesn't even get close to the amount of time with the children as the parents do. It's actually 84000 hours vs 14000 hours.

To think that just because the child is elsewhere means that they are going to then become just like that person, then why ever let them out of your site? A committed parent, trains their child well so that when they are away from them, no matter the amount of time, the child can think critically and not blindly.

That's the difference between having your child ask and know "why" instead of just knowing information and repeating it.

As far as why I ask if you are a Christian is because there is a disconnect between Christianity and everything else. I could care less about your sex or race, as far as this discussion goes.

You state that it is imperative that we "know thyself" first so that we can know others is not Christian. Christians are told to deny self and know Christ.

So, while this might seem right to you, from a biblical standpoint, it is quite the opposite to what the Creator speaks of.

Your comment on saying that I am copping out and non-committed to my child is a very foolish statement. My commitment to my children is to raise them to glorify God in everything and above all things and sending them to a public school does not negate that. Just because one's conviction on schooling is different than yours does not equate it to you are some sort of super parent and I am a quasi sociological child abuser.

I just don't follow how you can equate homeschooling with can be, but not necessarily. Same with public school, as Becky pointed out. The public school parent can allow for the school to take over and raise their child, but not necessary. Same thing happens in many things...whether it is church, school, sports, etc.

Thanks for the interaction, but I would say to come up with outlandish sweeps against parents, you might want to consider more logical arguments first.

Schooling does not equal committed or non-committed parent and schooling does not equal incompetent or competent child. Many factors are involved and it usually starts with the focus of the home.

Seth McBee said...


That's why it's called "Contend Earnestly"...I don't contend earnestly for education...I contend earnestly for the glory of God.

Everything else, including education, falls under that.

Sorry, you didn't catch that right away.

Mike said...

Contend =argue
earnestly= sincerely

I am stating my argument sincerely. My argument is that homeschooling is the best option for today's parent. Especially if you value Christian principles.

Apparently none exist here considering all I am getting is negativity..

Why should a Christian educate their children? It seems to go against their own teachings on so many levels.

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow."
Ecclesiastes 1-18

Seth McBee said...

You get negativity when you call me an uncommitted parent who is copping out.

You see it as negative because I am trying to show why as a Christian I am not uncommitted or copping out, but trying to live on the mission that God has given my family.

That's not negativity, but a response to your sweeping claims.

Again...not sure if you are a Christian or not...not sure if you try to live for the glory of God above all else, so it makes it hard to comment to you personally.

Homeschooling might be the best for YOUR family...and I would agree if you are choosing it based on the glory of God, but to say that it is the best for every family is quite interesting seeing that the Bible never states how one should school their children. Ever.

Again though...I am not sure if you are a Christian, but if you are and you live for anything or do anything that isn't God first...then that is concerning.

Contend Earnestly is taken from Jude 3 by the way...sorry you didn't notice that before. (not knocking you, but sincerely sorry you didn't notice that this was first and foremost a blog on how to live out theology practically)

Mike said...

@McBee, the reality is that school aged children cannot think as critically as you assert. They need years to establish a good foundation for themselves. Being tossed into a large classroom with other people with different values and motivations confuses children. They tend to want to "fit in" and disregard who they really are in order to be "accepted". I want my child to preserve who he is… who he was born to be. The public school teacher is not going to care about your child as much as you do…
Actually I am quite surprised that "Christians" would defend secular public schools, they have the potential to instill long lasting (life long?) damage to a child's character. Just look at this "Christian" nation (USA) and how wretched it has become.

Mike said...

Sorry I missed your backwards phrase that only appears once in the entire Bible. …earnestly contend…

here is a good article that can educate you a little about "public schools"

"This system(before public schools), or lack of it, produced a highly literate population that could read the Federalist Papers, the King James Version of the Bible, and everything else that was published. All one has to do is read a Farmer's Journal of those early days to realize the high level of literacy that was enjoyed by the general population in America prior to the advent of the public schools."...

"That is why more and more parents are beginning to realize that the public schools are not interested in education but in social change and social control. A government education system is basically incompatible with the values of a free society. Eventually, one or the other must go."

Anonymous said...

Three comments:

"A soldier that is only trained and never allowed to enter war, does not really know how to fight."

How about "A soldier that is never trained but only allowed to enter war, will probably die."

"When the FBI studies how to spot a fake dollar, they spend more time examining the real thing than all the counterfeits."

Then why should the child spend all of his or her time reading inaccurate, evolutionary and secular textbooks instead of ones that teach the truth?

At young age at least, homeschooling makes more sense in that the parent isn't battling to raise the child with the correct values and doctrine. Note this is a different "battle" that what you mentioned in your post, Seth. Playing spiritual and educational tug-'o'-war daily with the child has no observable benefits.

This is all I'll say, lest it go into triple overtime. No one wants that.

Mike said...

I am finished here...

Anonymous said...

Just a thought! Along with bible knowledge, would you say that true life experiance also provides knowledge? And should it carry any weight? When I was teaching in the public schools, young teachers would sometimes advise parents (as the experts) on how to raise their children but they had never raised children and many times had idealistic theories that they were sure of about how things SHOULD be done. Some of us teachers whom had raised children would just smile, we had the wisdom of experiance behind us. Does this kind of wisdom carry any weight with you Seth?

Seth McBee said...

I have actually spoken to someone who has done extensive research on the ages of children and the ability for kids to grab abstract understandings of biblical topics starts for most kids at the age of 4 or 5...this mom is actually one who has both homeschooled and public I have done some research on this understanding...again...probably different depending on the child.

Seth McBee said...

Anonymous...(who are you, chicken..haha..kidding)

I am going to answer each of your questions so you can see where I am coming from...

You: 1) "A soldier that is only trained and never allowed to enter war, does not really know how to fight."

How about "A soldier that is never trained but only allowed to enter war, will probably die."

Me: Yeah..that would suck...again remember that as a public school, or a private school parent we will be doing and do a ton of training at home, like all Christian parents should. You are describing a really crappy parent. Almost a "here ya go...have fun, hope you don't get hurt!"

You: (2)"When the FBI studies how to spot a fake dollar, they spend more time examining the real thing than all the counterfeits."

Then why should the child spend all of his or her time reading inaccurate, evolutionary and secular textbooks instead of ones that teach the truth?

Me: are acting as though all their time is spent at some sort of Nazi camp. Are secular math books wrong? Most of what they read is not the opposite of Christianity...are there some? Yes of course...but it's not like they are consumed with it and it's not like they are not trained at home through the Bible for a correct understanding of biblical and godly concepts. Few subjects are in direct opposition to Christianity...especially in the early ages of school. But, again...they aren't reading Darwin or Nietzsche all day. And, to be honest, it's not like the homeschool parent is reading the Bible all day or teaching on creation. Just saying...

You:(3)At young age at least, homeschooling makes more sense in that the parent isn't battling to raise the child with the correct values and doctrine. Note this is a different "battle" that what you mentioned in your post, Seth. Playing spiritual and educational tug-'o'-war daily with the child has no observable benefits.

Me: It might make more sense for your family, if that is how you are living out the mission God has given you for his glory...this doesn't mean that it makes more sense for my family...

Honestly...the battle is worth it. I spend much more time with my children than the school or my local church. I teach and train them so that when those things are presented they understand how to respond, and if they don't I am there and my wife is there to support them.

And, at a young age, children depend on their parents and listen to them as though they are gods...that's why if a parent doesn't teach the child the reasons of why of their faith (which can happen with any type of schooling), the kid turns into a teenager and rebels against their parents thoughts and ideals...

Hope this helps...

And yes, I value those who have gone before me and "been there done that", but I also question all that wisdom according to the bible and test that wisdom with others that I know...

Thanks for the comments, I appreciate them.

train reck. said...


I've enjoyed your posts.

I tell my church parents that as a youth pastor, I officially take a non-stance, because it cones down to personal conviction. Regardless though, every believing student is under mandate to "make disciples".

As the leader of my home, my conviction is somewhat flexible. We homeschool our dogs, and we will (someday) public school our children (as of now, we have none.)

Anonymous said...

You are fucking insane.

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