Perspectives on Our Children’s Education: Going Public

Editors’ note: We asked three moms of school-age children to share their families’ perspectives on education. Jen Wilkin, Jenni Hamm, and Amanda Allen are three friends who attend the same church and raise families in the same geographic area. All three share mutual respect for each other as parents trying to raise children with intentionality, in the fear and admonition of the Lord. In this series, you will see their perspectives on how and why they chose to educate their children through public school, private school, or homeschooling. The series begins with Jen Wilkin on why she sends her children to public school.


One of the biggest decisions Christian parents face is how they will educate their children. Should they send their children to private school? Should they homeschool? What about public school? The stereotypes that attach themselves to each of these choices can be comical: guess which mom wears the denim jumper? How about the North Face jacket? The tight rhinestone tee? The dogmatism that attaches to each choice, however, is not comical at all. Contrary to rumor, the Bible does not endorse one of these choices above another.

The Bible does, however, admonish parents to take seriously and personally the instruction and training of their children. How this works out in practice is a matter for careful consideration. I believe this biblical mandate can be fulfilled through any of the three options I have noted. I also believe it can be completely undermined by any of the three. Each option has its strengths and weaknesses. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that the education option you choose is of secondary importance to the role you as a parent play in your child’s educational environment.

So which route did the Wilkins go? Despite the fact that I do not own a single tee with rhinestones on it, we went with public school. I want to be honest: it would not be accurate to say that we sat down and gave serious consideration to private school or homeschooling. We did not, and I hope my thoughts below will clarify why. However, with 11 years of public school under our belts we have had every opportunity to reconsider. Here are some reasons why, 11 years in, we still stand behind our decision.

We couldn’t afford private school.

Okay, I’m just keeping it real. Financially we couldn’t meet our long-term goals with four children in private school. The lack of ambiguity on this point was actually reassuring: It meant that there must be a way to honor God in our children’s education other than sending them to private school.

We believe in public education as an ideal.

Jeff and I both come from families of public educators, and we ourselves are products of public education. Though the public education system is far from perfect, we believe that by participating in it we help to keep our community and our country healthy. We recognize that these convictions have been easy for us to hold—we have been blessed to live close to excellent schools. In many areas of our country choosing to participate in the public school system would be nothing short of bold, missional living. Furthermore, none of our children has special needs or learning disabilities, removing a huge level of complexity from the decision-making process.

We believe worldview comes from parents.

I think homeschoolers and private schoolers believe this, too. My point is that we believe children can receive a secular education without sacrificing or compromising their Christian worldview. Ensuring this kind of thoughtful engagement has required many conversations about their classes. We press our kids to learn to think critically (discerningly) about what they are being taught. We correct or temper what they learn as needed.

Here are some unlooked-for benefits of a “secular” education that we have found:

  • Public school gave us early and repeated opportunities to talk respectfully about other religions with our children. Those religions had real faces. Our children have many opportunities to dialogue about their faith with friends.
  • Public school clarified for us the importance of time spent together. We had to be deliberate about guarding our shared time since six hours of every weekday would be spent at school (see related post).
  • Public school reinforced for our kids that home, rather than their peer group, is their primary place of community. Home is a safe place where they can expect to be treated with kindness and gentle speech. Their peer group? Not so much.
  • Public school drew clear lines for our kids. They know they are in the minority in terms of worldview. We do not have to convince them that they are aliens and strangers.

I should note that we did not send our children to public school to be “salt and light.” We sent them to public school to receive an education. We did not try to strategically position our kids as miniature missionaries in their kindergarten class.

We believe children love to learn if their parents love to learn.

If the public school mom stereotype is unsavory, it pales in comparison to that of the public school student: a drug-marinated, Halo-playing, sailor-mouthed charmer clinging to a 2.0 in theater tech. That child does not live in our home. Though our children’s formal education happens in a school building, it is enriched at home. Jeff and I are dorks who work crosswords together and read classic literature together and enjoy logic puzzles and the math of a card trick and the chemistry of baking and the physics of a game of pool and the biology of gardening. We became dorks because our parents were dorks. Our kids are dorks, too (sorry, kids). They are self-motivated and active learners, which has allowed them to flourish in public school regardless of whether they get the PhD or the PE coach for their language arts teacher. Parents set the educational climate for their children. If you are not the stereotypical public school parent, your child will probably not be the stereotypical public school student.

To Sum Up

For our family, public school means our children get an affordable, sound education. It means our family crosses paths with people of all backgrounds and faiths. It means we get to invest in the neighborhood in which we live. Our choice of public school in no ways indicts private schools or homeschooling. Public school is not for everyone, but it is a good fit for our family. Education is a highly personal choice, demanding consideration of factors unique to each student and family. I offer here just one perspective in the hope of enriching the dialogue.

  • the Old Adam

    If you have found a public school that actually teaches, and does not indoctrinate, then I am all for you and happy for you.

    Where I live, public schools like that do not exist. We only have public schools that are run by leftist unions and their compliant teacher members (with a very few exceptions).

  • zilch

    I’m an atheist, and my Catholic wife and I sent both our kids to public school for pretty much the same reasons you did: couldn’t afford private school, and it was important to us that our kids see the face of other beliefs: here in Austria, primarily Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Muslim. They were also required to take religion classes for two years (Catholic), which of course do not exist in public schools in the US, but we figured they’d survive (they did). The result: our kids are atheists, but more important, they are tolerant of other belief systems.

    Good luck to you and yours, Jen.

  • Tim Snider

    I’m a homeschooling dad, and I wish to begin by saying this is a wonderful perspective and excellent articulation of your reasons for choosing public school.

    Your benefits and bullet points regarding home as guarded time and home as a place really resonated with me because I have noted that when we spend all our time together, it all tends to blend in as one. (And there are some advantages to that, too.)

    Most importantly, I appreciate your writing you did not send your kids as ‘salt and light.’ As I’m sure you’re aware, other authors of similar pieces make the ‘salt and light’ argument very nearly their cornerstone of their decision to choose public school. Further, I have read authors who generally and even specifically state that the homeschooling movement and its withdrawal from the public school sphere is in part responsible for the decay of our public schools. I, of course, regard that notion as pure nonsense, and I sense (and hope) that you do, too.

    • Phillip Holmes

      “Most importantly, I appreciate your writing you did not send your kids as ‘salt and light.’ As I’m sure you’re aware, other authors of similar pieces make the ‘salt and light’ argument very nearly their cornerstone of their decision to choose public school.”

      As someone that intends to homeschool, I was grateful she didn’t make that argument either. I completely agree with your comments Tim. Well said.

  • Curt Day

    I believe in public schools in principle. However, having just finished a 19 year career of teaching college courses which consisted of computer science and freshman math, here are my problems with public education.

    1. Parents and administrators are working, sometimes independently, to lower performance standards. The message that comes from both of these groups to teachers is that you must these kids regardless.

    2. The No Child Left Behind legislation. The kids are taught to strengthen their short-term memory rather than to understand and learn how to question.

    3. Teachers generally do not use the strength of their unions to resist the demand to pass everybody and the no child left behind culture

    4. The kids who regard attendance as the admission price for a diploma. They enjoy the lower standards made possible by parents, administrators, and the No Child Left Behind legistlation

    5. The overuse of technology, especially in math, so that kids are taught to always look to a machine, rather than themselves, for the correct answer. The only lesson to be learned from the overuse of technology is how to comply

    Having said that, public education will always be of vital importance to society. I am say that today’s society is wrecking public education.

    • Justin

      I’m a college professor and I’ll add this:

      Grade inflation is rampant, but I see it with both private and public schools. Bring in a can of food for a canned food drive and not only can you feel good about yourself, we’ll drop your lowest grade. C students are becoming A students and when they get to college, they are shocked that they are C students.

      The overuse of technology is rampant. I have a 16-year old nephew that can’t do basic math without a calculator, and of course, he’s a straight A student.

  • LauraLee Shaw

    Really appreciate your perspective here & respect the fact that you are following what God has called your family to do. It’s so easy to put these types of decisions in some sort of right & wrong category, forgetting that the Lord leads each of us for His purposes in His unique direction.

  • Jennifer

    I appreciate that you are not sending your children as “little missionaries.” While I expect my public school educated daughter to act in loving ways that will honor God, I do not expect her, at five years old, to lead her class in the Roman Road when it is her turn to show and tell.

    Of course, when she wanted to give everyone a “Jesus Loves You” bookmark for Valentine’s Day, I didn’t discourage her. She loves Jesus the way a five year old ought to and wants others to love him too.

  • Justin

    Great perspective. We recently went through this decision process with our first child. Although homeschooling was not an option for us, we were deciding between public school and private, Christian school.

    Like the writer of this post, we are fortunate to live in an area that boasts excellent public schools, and in the area of the country we live, unions are not active. In fact, our school board meetings begin with prayer and many of the teachers and administrators that we have interacted with have shared their faith openly with us. On the first day of school, some high school kids were walking through the school building praying over every classroom.

    Shocking to most, I know. The private Christian schools here are good as far as the Christian part, but we have heard from so many parents that they were disappointed with the education. I know this is probably completely opposite than most, but in our case, the educational aspects of public school are way better, and the schools are Christian-friendly,

    Now 25 miles down the road in either direction are some of the worst schools in America, and we would never consider sending our children to public school.

  • Tdm52004

    Do you mind sharing the ages of your children? Elementary? Middle or High School?

    • Jen Wilkin

      I currently have a middle schooler (age 13) and three high schoolers (ages 15, 16 and 17).

  • Carm

    I really enjoyed your thoughts and one person’s comment that said, “you are following what God has called your family to do.” That is exactly what we are intentional in doing. One of our children (now 24) went to public school and one (now 14) we homeschool. Each child is different, as well our family dynamics change throughout the years….but the call of God to follow where He leads has not. Thanks be to God.

  • Scott

    I appreciate this article and agree wholeheartedly. We made the same choice with our five children. My only question is regarding this quote:

    “I should note that we did not send our children to public school to be “salt and light.” We sent them to public school to receive an education.”

    Though I completely agree that this shouldn’t be a primary reason behind educational choices, why wouldn’t the missionary call for every Christian not be something we intentionally engage with in our children’s lives? In particular, once they have exhibited the fruit of a regenerate life. For our kids, we strongly emphasized that school is an opportunity for them to exercise their faith as missionaries to the lost world in which we live. If your child is a Christian, I’m not sure how you could not view their school as a primary medium for evangelism. We’ve had the joy of walking along side several of our kids as they’ve introduced their friends to Christ and helped them to disciple them in faith. It’s not everything, but my wife have been so blessed to not only supplement our kids academic education, but to walk along side them as they learn to disciple others. An opportunity that would have been much more difficult to enjoy had we chosen another educational path.

    • Jen Wilkin

      Scott, I would agree with this. As our kids got older they definitely took on this role with their peers as maturity and readiness allowed. I just like to be clear that our education decision was an education decision. We assume (hope) that, as our children grow in their faith, they will be missional in any environment they enter. It has been sweet to see that begin to happen with their schoolmates and teachers.

      • The Urbans

        I’m glad you clarified this. As Scott said, as Christians, we should be looking at every environment as a personal mission field. I would agree though as well, that it isn’t and shouldn’t be the sole purpose for sending a child to public school. Education is too important to not look at every angle. We also chose public schooling for our children (currently middle and elementary ages), and the mission field part is a perk and certainly is not ignored. It is amazing to see my kids grow in their faith and be a Christ-like example to their peers. However, if our local schools did not have the incredible reputation that they do, their ‘mission field’ would certainly be somewhere else. God’s blessings to your family. I really enjoyed reading the article, and it’s refreshing to know that there are other Christian families who made the same decision based on similar thoughts and considerations.

        • Trent DeJong (@Dryb0nz)

          The problem with the “salt and light” arguement for sending children to public schools is that it is Christians who are called to be salt and light, not the children of Christians. I go more into this and other issues around Christian Education at:

          • Curt Day

            By homeschooling unnecessarily, are we teaching our kids to live in a bubble?

    • Scott

      Great response Jen. I hear you. Thanks for clearly stating honest reflections on an issue that can be divisive. Of course, we all rest in the sovereign hand of God whose miracle of redemption is present in any family and educational model where children are reborn in the Spirit and nurtured in the Lord. Thanks be to God.

  • Kara @ The Chuppies

    Jen …I so appreciate your thoughts in this post and think this is a GREAT series topic!

    I appreciate that you acknowledge the differences in locations, schools, even families who have children with learning disabilities etc (which includes us :) )

    I also taught in public school and we have close friends (with whom we are very likeminded) who send their children as well. Ours have been through a mix of different options, but have spent the last 4 years in a University Model School (full day MWF, homeschool T/TH).
    It’s good to remember that we have MANY choices, even beyond the basic public, private, homeschool options.

    I rarely share links in comments, but I’d like to share the 25 questions we have tried to consider when it comes to education options. The answers are different for every family, but it has been a good starting place for us as we (on a yearly basis) try to figure out what God has planned for our family.

    And we’re open to redirection.

  • Nick

    Honest questions for Jen:

    Do you and your husband have some sort of “line in the sand” in mind at which point public education would not be an option for you? Have you thought through how society might change in the near future and what sort of things would cause you to no longer view government education as a viable option in the US?

    It seems to me that for any Christian parent there must be some sort of “line”, it’s just a matter of where that line is and if their public schools are near it. Realizing, of course, that there is some subjectivity here.

    Another question for you and all parents of government education. Are you financially dependent on it? In other words, is your lifestyle setup in such as a way that were public education made not viable next year, you would have alternatives? I think this is an important question to consider.

    While there are of course exceptions to every rule, it does at least seem that for many parents, they choose government education because they feel they have to because they are financially dependent on it. Remove the financial dependence, and they would choose differently. If that is the case, this must be revealing a heart issue that has to be worked on. How can we re-arrange our lives to remove the financial dependence on the government? It may not be possible for all, but for many it IS. For those, this is something to strongly consider.

    • Jen Wilkin

      Hi Nick, this is a good question. I think the point of the series will be to explore the line of which you speak. I would say the line is different for each family. We are not financially dependent on public education, but I am keenly aware that many people are (for example, a single parent or a dual-income family in which both parents must work to make ends meet). I believe it is an economic privilege to even be able to consider education choices outside of the public school system. That being said, as I point out in my post, we based our decision on quality of education. The public schools in our area are excellent. If this were not the case (and it is certainly not the case in many places), we would have weighed other schooling options differently.

      • Nick

        Thanks for the thoughtful response, Jen. Do you have any thoughts on what sort of lines you and your husband would have?

        To give a specific example, the school board in our county is proposing having all teachers sign a statement that they will “affirm” homosexuality as a “legitimate” and “valued” lifestyle. I’m paraphrasing but those are the key words and tone of the statement, wrapped in a larger statement on inclusiveness and diversity.

        Affirming sin is a line in the sand for us, in terms of an environment we are willing to send our kids in to. I imagine more and more school districts will be faced soon with similar issues. Is this a line in the sand for you, and if not, why not?

        • Jen Wilkin

          Nick, for us the line would be related to quality of instruction before it would be related to an issue such as you have described. We don’t ask or expect the school to share or support our worldview, and we parent with that in mind. My children have had gay teachers and attend class with openly gay students. I assume they will find the same thing in college and the workplace. We have had great dialogues with them about mutual respect and worldview. We see this as a win. I’d say the same thing about sexual activity, drugs, alcohol, and the other typical “hard things” about public school – lots of dialogue to help them learn discernment.

          • Nick

            Thanks again for your response. While I disagree with the conclusions you come to, I think you wrote a great article.

            I find this to be an interesting disagreement. I can’t imagine not wanting our children’s teachers to support our worldview. That just seems like it is giving away far too much. You can say that worldview comes from parents alone, but I just don’t think that’s true. Worldview comes from parents, life experiences, and teachers of all sorts. How are children with developing minds supposed to understand that they should only “learn” from their teachers in certain areas of life and not others. I can’t reconcile that. If we put a gay man in front of our children as a “teacher” – a respected adult – regardless of what dialogue we might have, that is teaching them a level of acceptance of homosexuality that is untrue and ungodly. (imo, of course) But, by that line of reasoning we also strive to only have followers of Jesus as “teachers” for our children as much as possible. It’s a quite a disagreement, I suppose.

            And I put children in a completely different category than college-age and young adults, though I’m a strong proponent of Christian higher education for the same reasons. Developing minds must be put in a different category, I think.

            • Adina

              Nick, I appreciate your desire to place your children in an environment where they will be taught by Christians. However, I would love to share a little bit of my experience with you. I am 26 years old and I grew up in a conservative Christian family. I attended public school for all 13 years, and our district was extremely liberal and not Christian-friendly (for instance, we were not allowed to pray around the flagpole). However, I believe that my public school experience gave me an excellent foundation for my faith, as I am an active member of my local PCA church, and my education (I’m now pursuing my PhD).

              Through my time at school, I had gay friends and teachers, a teacher who was a pagan priest, and many other people in my life whose worldviews were the antithesis of Christianity. Through this, God revealed many truths about Christianity that would have been hard to see otherwise. I grew to love these people, people who were actively rejecting God, and I began to grieve for them as God grieves for all people. I had the opportunity to pray regularly for and with friends and teachers, and was able to share the Gospel on many occasions. I was able to see the continuity and wisdom in my parent’s teaching, and I ran to the Bible for answers to many hard questions that my teachers couldn’t answer. I was persecuted for my faith, and I learned to stand firm while still having compassion on those who persecuted me.

              This is not to say that I never struggled with my faith while in public school. But home was the place where I wrestled, and parents were faithful in continually pointing me to Jesus. I got a great education, and I still have dear friends from high school who have kept in touch with me, giving me many opportunities to talk about the Lord. When I attended college, entered the work force, and then attended graduate school to, I was not surprised by the evil in the world, but I also knew that God was capable of giving me holy love for my enemies across the table. I in no way think that public school is the only godly option for Christian families, but I wanted to share my story with you. The wisdom of God became apparent to me when held up against the wisdom of the world (even as a young elementary schooler). I learned to love my neighbor, and was pursued by Jesus in a deep, life-giving way. I am very thankful that my parents put me in public school. I am not sure I will make that same decision when I am a parent, but I affirm you Jen for trusting God in his calling for your children.

  • TammyvdH

    Thanks for this! I look forward to the next two in the series!

    Things that spoke out to me in this article:

    1. The Bible does not endorse one of these choices above another.
    2. The Bible does, however, admonish parents to take seriously and personally the instruction and training of their children.
    3. We believe worldview comes from parents.
    4. We did not send our children to public school to be “salt and light.

    You have shed some light on some really important issues!!! Definitely sharing!

    • Curt Day

      One of the things we need to teach our children if they are going to be salt and light in the future is that they can learn from those outside of their faith.

  • Mel

    I wanted to like this post but it feels like it was written to the homeschool crowd to say “see we are very much like you”. I do not feel the need to justify my children to the home school crowd. The good ones recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit. I suppose for the purpose of writing this though you had to take some angle.

    My kids are AP and Honor students in a liberal school where their world view makes it possible to recognize which of their teachers are actual Christians. Being a university town the school is a good one. How good in comparison is difficult to say since we only attend this one and cannot speak to the rest in the country. Just as is the case for everyone else that comments but seems to forget.
    My children are just like the foul mouthed, halo playing, ect. sinners though saved by grace. They still sin though theirs is probably the more specialized sin of pride as most Christians suffer from. Mine are not classic literature snobs but video/computer graphics snobs. Since they know how technology works and how to manipulate it they will probably never be fooled by it. My son has been helping with the church videos since junior high.

    What do rhinestones have to with public school? A Texas thing?

  • Trevor Minyard

    This article is on point.

  • John

    “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40).

    Parents should be comfortable with this principle working itself out in the lives of their children because it probably will.

    • Kurt


    • Hannah Anderson

      Which also applies to homeschooling and why when our family homeschooled for several years, we did it with fear and trembling. By becoming the primary and exclusive teacher for my daughter, I was increasing the likelihood that she would mirror my sinful tendencies. Ones that I was all too aware of in my own life.

      One of the benefits of multiple teachers is that our children are exposed to a variety of strengths and weaknesses. The drawback, of course, is that they might lose a cohesive worldview; but I think Jen addressed that by saying that we must carefully guard our time as families and make sure that the overarching worlview comes from home.

  • Guy Whatley

    As a parent of a four year old wrestling with this very issue sometimes we must break it down to simple facts and here are the facts, on public schooling.
    Homeschooled: 94%
    Public Schooled: 15%

    94% of homeschoolers keep the faith and 93% continue to attend church after the high school years. But a shocking 75% to 85% of Christian children sent to public school drop out of church, and do not hold a Christian worldview after high school graduation.

    I am 50 years old and public schools in america are not like they were when I was young. Sending my babies out to be slaughtered by the consistant barrage of satanic mind set is not an option. Whether it be evolution vs. creation. (do you believe the Genesis account? If not when do you believe Gen. 4, 6, or post flood?). You see it begins subtly but eventually our children become overwhelmed and lose faith in the one book that matters in eternity. If you struggle with a young earth vs. evolution spend some time looking at the NT and how they quote Genesis unapologetically, and consider it historical fact. I have spent the last twenty years in ministry both youth and as the senior pastor and having seen hundreds of solid christian kids pass through our ministry I know the unfortunate reality of the statistics. The shaping of young minds by a hostile atheistic worldview is having the exact result the evil one seeks. An America full of prodigal children who’s faith has been crushed by lies and deception. For any parent to think the 1-2 hours they get after school, sports, extra curricular activities and homework can offset the 9+ hours the world has to mold and shape their minds of their children are only kidding themselves. Pray for our Children, 85% of Christian kids have walked away from their Savior post high school. We cannot run from that truth.

    Guy Whatley

    • Devon Mobley

      I think this perspective involves a failure to trust the Lord with what is going on in someone’s life. Also, the creation/evolution debate shouldn’t end with isolation. I disagree with the majority of this comment. Statistics don’t matter to the Lord and worldview interactions are more helpful than harmful.

    • Hayley

      I’m a homeschooling mom. And I used to say those kinds of things to people.

      But here’s the thing: God will save my children if He wants, homeschooled or not. That doesn’t mean I get to slack off and expect God to fill in the gaps. My husband and I have a responsibility to be faithful in teaching them. But their salvation isn’t dependent on what I do. God is sovereign in their lives.

      I can homeschool and do a terrific job and they can grow up to be adults who hate God.
      I can homeschool, and do a terrific job, and they can grow up to be faithful men and women of God.

      I went to public school. I went to a public university. God saved me.

      • Chris

        It’s interesting that the primary answer to Guy’s post is a sort of “It’s out of our hands” response. Is that how we really go through life?

        I was brought up in a Christian home, the son of a minister who sent his children to public school. 100% of us left the church after we moved out of the home. All of us atheist leaning agnostics. I became a Christian in my late 20s and view my atheism as a result of public education. My siblings have yet to become Christians.

        I agree that you can homeschool and do a terrific job and they can still grow up to hate God. But I disagree wholeheartedly that this somehow negates the fact that statistics aren’t lying here. Any youth minister who takes his job seriously can tell you this.

        Ultimately, Jen is dead on, the worldview starts in the home. I just wonder how many Christian parents are aware of how much work this will take to mold when the competition of their peers is soaking up the vast majority of their time.

        • Nick

          Thank you Chris, great contribution. I hope others will see that yours is an equally valid and frankly common story. We can mock Guy and I don’t know if his statistics are correct or not, but ultimately we should all care more about getting some real statistics because people can have stories and feelings to justify any conclusion.

          God most certainly does care about statistics if the statistics are accurate, because accurate statistics are truth, and God is about truth.

      • Ashley T.

        I can’t ‘like’ this comment enough. My parents are homeschooling my younger brother right now (and have been for several years now). He has been raised and taught the ways of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And he rejects it. Doesn’t want anything to do with it. Period. It’s not up to my parents. And it’s not up to me to save my children. I must be faithful to proclaim the gospel to them, Salvation is of the Lord, whether one is homeschooled or not.

    • Micah

      The website you cited seems more than a little slanted in one direction. I was home-schooled but have lots of friends who were not that are faithfully serving God. To add my own perspective, I work with High School students in a fairly large church and I consistently find that the children follow the parents. I’ve had great home-schooled and public school kids who’ve shown over the years that their faith is real. I’ve also had holy terrors from both settings. It’s up to parents and the Holy Spirit.

    • The Urbans

      Where are your statistics that show how many people have come to know Christ after growing up in a secular home while attending public school? ;-) It can go both ways, and it seems that statistic is pretty fudged, IMO. I’m hesitant to believe any kind of statistic that places all its eggs in a basket based on asking a handful of people.

      If someone grew up a Christian home and later left their faith and never returned, then they never truly knew Christ to begin with (if I were good at siting Bible verses, I’d place one here).

      • Paul Ellsworth

        It would also be interesting to know how many parents of the public-school-“anti”-converted kids were active in their children’s … worldview shaping. Yeah, if you send your kids to public school and just totally take a “hands-off” approach, bad things quite possibly could happen. Same with private schools and Christian schools, for that matter. Parents have a responsibility to *oversee* their kids’ education, regardless of who is teaching them.

        Also, I wonder about homeschooler’s worldviews, as well… in that it seems like there’s a number of homeschooler’s that, yes are still “with it” after high school … but after college, if they go, aren’t. In other words, the only reason they were “with it” was that the were sheltered, basically. I doubt it’s a large percentage, but I know it is a percentage, having seen it myself.

        (I was homeschooled, for the record… and I think I got a good education)

    • Chad

      I’m going to call those statistics dubious at best. The only stat that I know is that The Lord saves 100% of those he calls to himself. Are you fearful that your child might catch sin? I can tell that they already have a terminal case of sin. No amount of home schooling will change that.

  • Wendy Alsup

    Thanks, Jen. I loved this article, and you articulate the reasons we too chose public school for our boys. Being intentional with our time together is crucial.

  • Rachel

    Guy, I just wonder how those statistics were reached? It seems a bit like scare tactics to me. I don’t believe fear is a good enough reason to home school, and I agree with Jen that there is no absolute right answer in the home school/public school/private school question. It just isn’t as simple as some people make it out to be. We cannot MAKE our children become Christians by homeschooling them. It is also very possible to homeschool badly – trust me, I have done it :-( !

    • Brenda

      Rachel, I think yours is the most reasonable reply so far. “It just isn’t as simple as some people make it out to be.” There are so many factors involved in this decision. I would love to homeschool, but my husband does not want that life. I could sit here and think of dozens of scenarios that make homeschooling difficult or impossible. And not every family can afford private, even if they make “sacrifices.” There are dads out there who are working themselves to exhaustion and making minimum wage. Those families couldn’t pay tuition even if they wanted to. No, it’s not a simple decision at all.

  • Nicholas J. Gausling

    Don’t ever forget that the state is not your friend; it has its own humanistic agenda, and that agenda typically doesn’t align with those of Christian parents. There’s a reason why bureaucrats are making it increasingly difficult to home school children. There’s a reason why they impose so many regulations on private schools (regulations increase compliance costs and therefore drive up prices so that most families can’t afford the tuition). The state wants as many children in public schools as possible, where they control the messaging.

    Praise God, there are some resources available to help parents inoculate their children from the humanistic and socialist indoctrination that occurs in the public education system. Here are a few:

  • Susan

    Hi, Jen. You start your conclusion by saying, “For our family, public school means our children get an affordable, sound education.” But I can’t tell where you touch on how the education a public school provides is “sound.” Could you explain a little bit about how it is sound? Thanks.


    • Jen Wilkin

      Hi Susan, by “sound” we mean academically rigorous. We have found the public schools our kids attend to be so. Jen

  • Mark

    Jen, Thank you for your perspective, as my wife and I came to similar conclusions. This question may go not only to you but also to the editors: As you can see by the responses, there is some tension in this issue–how does that “tension” play out in your church? Are the families equally mixed between the three types of schooling? Does one prevail over the others? Are relationships formed around types of schooling? How have pastors dealt with this dynamic, if at all? I’d love to hear responses on these questions.

    • Jen Wilkin

      Hi Mark, I don’t have hard data for our area, but my homeschool friends tell me there are many families who do so. When you see the homeschooling article on Friday, I think you’ll get a better feel for how many families in our area choose that option. We have two large private Christian school options, a hybrid option, and several large public high schools. Our church is fairly young, so many parents are just facing education decisions for the first time. In my experience, and in the experience of the other writers, parents inevitably form relationships around their schooling choices. But they also form them through home groups or other ministry involvement. Or through extracurricular activities their kids are invloved in. We don’t have “camps” at the church, as far as I’m aware, and the pastors don’t weigh in on education choices.

  • Nate

    I totally agree with the sentiments of this article IF the public schools are still sound. I also agree that we can’t save our kids by homeschooling them because as Hayley said God will be the one doing the saving.

    However, we have to ask ourselves are we going to help our children or hinder them in their walk with God. By this I mean if the public schools(and I’m using the bad examples) teach our children that God should be relegated only to Sunday and that the Bible in not truth just a nice story and they hear this for 40 hours a week, How is that helping to train our children in the way they should go?

    I am glad to hear that there are still public schools that are out there that are a blessing to those who go to them. But those seem few and far between. Shouldn’t we as parents be more concerned with the disciples that we have been entrusted to bring up in the admonition of the Lord than those that have not been entrusted to our care?

  • Dean P

    I am so tired of people always assuming that most parents could homeschool if they just “adjusted their lifestyle”. How can anybody on the outside possibly make that determination? I continue to come across this attitude regularly from homeschool parents. You do realize that we are still in a major economic downturn don’t you. Just in the last month I have had three good male friends get laid off from their jobs. I guess now they have had their lifestyle adjusted for them. I guess now they can be stay-at-home school dads.

    • Nick

      Well Dean, it has to do with the definition of the word “most”. Most means not all, but many. I’m a pastor and I come in to contact with a wide range of people on these issues and others like them. And indeed, “most” people could do a lot of things if they adjusted their lifestyle. Life is about choices. This may not be true of you and that’s OK, but it is absolutely true in my experience that “most” families (say 75%) could homeschool with some lifestyle adjustment. It is just true. Your experiences do not make this not true.

      • Paul Ellsworth

        So in your (Nick’s) experience, it is true … in Dean’s, it is not. So, just as Dean’s experience does not make your experience not true… your experience does not make Dean’s experience not true…

        (I’m not sure if you were actually trying to say that your experience was the more universal experience or not)

        My guess is that this has a huge amount to do with the economic prosperity of the community at large. When you have both parents working and they don’t *need* to both work… sure, they *could* make a lifestyle change. But when both parents *do* need to work (low-wage, part-time work, low-wage + hard time finding work, whatever the case may be), I would imagine it’s significantly harder.

        The “my way is best and if you could do it if you just changed your lifestyle” type of comment without knowing the individual family’s situation is presumptuous and I think can be … well, very hurtful… and my guess is that it tends to come from a relatively well-off middle-class America type of background… which, it seems, makes up a lot of American evangelical Christianity :) (that said, I can’t actually presume that about anyone, either, so … ha. :) )

        You (Nick) seem to know those that you are saying it about, so I believe you. My point is that to make this a more “global” statement can be very offensive… and offensive not because it’s the truth, but because it may *not* be the truth but means that I’m saying “you’re a bad parent, even though I don’t know anything about your situation, because you’re not homeschooling.”

  • Rachael Starke

    Thanks for writing this – great points. I’ll be praying that this and the coming conversations will be full of both grace and truth. I can’t think of many other topics where pride and judgmentalism tend to eventually reign more than this one.

  • Ali

    You finished the article by saying, “I offer here just one perspective in the hope of enriching the dialogue” and I think you did just that! With how you’ve written about this issue it can lead to enriched dialogue. Thank you for sharing your perspective! We have done all three types of education over the years..home, public, and private. I agree with you that each family will have reasons why a particular type of education will “fit” them. And also, as has been the case with us, in different circumstances and times that “fit” can change. I appreciate when there can be discussion without saying that only one way is the “right” way.

  • paul Cummings

    Jen, thank you for this thoughtful article.

  • Pingback: Perspectives on Our Children’s Education: Going Public | The Revival Times()

  • Debi Grenseman

    The important thing with any method of education is to cover it with prayer. That it vital whether you homeschool, send your child to a charter school, a private Christian school, or a public school. That is what we do in Moms in Prayer, shoulder with one another in prayer for our kids. We know that even Christian schools can not be a spiritually safe place. We live in a world ruled by the prince of the air, Scripture says, so we have to deal with his influence wherever. But, we can go over his head through prayer to the King.

    • Amy

      Debi Grenseman,
      Thank you for your comment! While reading previous comments my heart was becoming heavy, Your comment made me praise His Name.
      I homeschooled my children for 8 years. We then felt God calling us to send them to public school.
      We start our day with scripture and prayer and I pray through out the day. Sometimes, my heart can be very heavy, but I KNOW God’s love for my kids is greater them my own. He knows the plans He has for them plans to prosper them not to harm them. They are ultimately His.

  • Marla

    It’s interesting that people who choose public schools all claim their schools to be the exception, that is, they know so many schools are terrible, but theirs in particular is wonderful. Sadly, the overall data does not support that. American students consistently perform much worse than their foreign peers. The teachers on here who have spoken to standards and grade inflation are correct. Our kids bring home an A, and we think they must be excelling. Unfortunately, an A does not mean the same thing everywhere to everyone. The curriculum is watered down and teachers must teach to the test to please their administrators. It is a tragedy that our money pit public schools no longer resemble the early schools of America, when we had a higher literacy rate than we do today, and we spent next to nothing on student education.

  • Marla

    Kindly allow me a third post to state a few things that my spirit deems necessary in way of clarification. Most importantly, that in no way did I mean any offense with my first post. I was making an observation and offering some things to be considered in light of that observation. I appreciate the humble and forebearing tone of this article as well as of all the commenters. Everyone has made excellent points. Secondly, in the interest of disclosure, my children are currently homeschooled. I have an education degree and taught in both the public and private schools. I have relatives and friends who teach in the public schools, God bless them. Thirdly, while you are of the conviction that the Bible does not speak to the mode of education for our children, there are many others who believe just the opposite. They take the Shema passage in Deuteronomy, as well as the other passage that refer to training children, to mean ALL education. In other words, they do not separate training in The Lord from training in academics. All training would then be the scriptural, covenantal duty of the parents. They would argue that you cannot take God out of each subject because He made and sustains all the things we study anyway! Personally, I don’t know how I feel about that belief, but I’m just reminding you that it’s out there.
    I promise I’m finished now!

  • Curt Day

    So much has been said about passing on our worldview to our kids certain assumptions have been made about what it means to our kids. I have one friend at church who shies away from reading books by nonChristians because he will eventually run into the author’s world view. He passed his attitude on to his kids and the end result is a lack of awareness of the nonChristian elements in his own world view. Those elements come from his political and economic views. He has assumed that because these views are conservative, then they must be Christian. And since he considers all nonconservative world views to be heathen, he has cut off any chance of reviewing his own world view. And he has successfully passed his approach down to his children.

    One of the greatest stumbling blocks we present to the world when we witness is this attitude that because we have our world view from God and others don’t, that we have everything to teach and nothing to learn. See the link below

    • Paul Ellsworth

      Inconsistencies in Christian worldviews are surprisingly common… especially when we basically only listen to one side of a given issue (the conservative, non-liberal, Republican, “Christian” or “family values” side). In this case, I’m referring more to … issues that aren’t directly biblical… :) (take, for instance … a given welfare program or something.) In the last couple years, I’ve been made aware of multiple inconsistencies in my own worldview and how I thought, even with regard to church issues like music or worship or preaching or “community” or whatever. It’s always shocking when you realize you’ve basically been selectively applying things and basically have been entirely self-contradictory and ignored it… but it only shows itself when you’re willing to put down the immediate defensive argumentation and actually consider the fact that you might be *wrong* :)

  • Shelly

    Jen, I want to thank you for an article that clearly articulates what my husband and I decided about 15 years ago. Yes, there are shortcomings to the public education system, but I truly believe that we Christians cannot give up our calling to be there. Yes, our girls came home much too early and asked, “What is sex?”, but that gave us just another opportunity to speak truth into their lives. Public school has caused us to always be on our guard as parents to speak truth into the lives of our kids.

    A couple of thoughts came to mind as I read your article. First, we did not expect our children to be “salt and light” in school–like you, we believe that the primary purpose of school is education–but we did expect ourselves (my husband and me) to look for opportunities to minister to other parents as well as the children we came into contact with. This led us to develop friendships with many of our unbelieving neighbors–a true blessing in our lives. One couple actually asked my husband and I to do a Bible study with them, and we had tremendous opportunities to share our faith with them.

    The second thought that I always like to share with people who are making this decision is that we decided early on that we could not make an educational choice for our kids that was based on fear. I see so many Christian parents fleeing the public school system without even knowing anything about it–they just flee because they are afraid of what public schools will do to their kids. God has not called us to a spirit of fear, and we refused to give in to it, so we moved ahead.

    God has richly blessed our kids through our experience in public school. Today, all three are following Jesus and two attend Christian college (another topic for another day!). The third is still in high school, but learning so much about her faith through her experiences there . . . all while getting a stellar education!

    Thanks so much, Jen, for bringing up this important topic.

    • Jen Wilkin

      Shelly, well-said. You have touched on a major theme Jeff and I raise with Christian parenting: do we make decisions based on fear or love? Any education choice (any parenting choice!) can be based on either motive. Motive matters, doesn’t it? Thank you for highlighting that. Jen

  • Steve Long

    It seems to me that a large part of this choice boils down to how one defines “education.” A number of people have said, essentially, “our kids get their worldview at home (and church), and their education [primarily] at school.” This implies that a worldview and an education are two different things that can be [adequately] separated from each other. A worldview is ideological, whereas an education is practical.

    However, those who believe Christians are foolish to put their kids in public schools, do so because they believe worldview and education are inseparable. They view education as inherently ideological. It’s impossible to teach someone how to think without also influencing what they think.

  • Rett

    “My point is that we believe children can receive a secular education without sacrificing or compromising their Christian worldview.”

    I think the danger in this understanding is that it breeds a false sense of neutrality in learning, as if there are subjects that are “true” and there are things that we can “know” without starting with the God of the Bible. A Christian education not only teaches knowledge and truth but teaches how such is accounted for and can actually make sense. For this reason, I believe there is a way to teach any subject in opposition to or in obedience to Christ. Most Christians can spot how a public education is going to teach a different source of ethics, a different metaphysic, and a different worldview entirely, but they don’t see that the source of all that danger is that with EVERYTHING they teach without acknowledging God, they are teaching a different epistemology. That is to say they are teaching children that truth and knowledge does not begin with omniscience and his revelation to us, but rather truth and knowledge begin with the finite, autonomous, rebellious mind of man.

    • Trent DeJong (@Dryb0nz)

      This is exactly right, IMO. This is why I send my kids to the school I send them too–one wich recognizes that, as Steve also says, there is no neutrality to education–public education teaches a worldview that is contrary to the Biblical one. I beleive some Christian schools also preach the same message as the public school: that there is a part of life that somehow does not belong to God.

    • Curt Day

      And my point is that we get so smug because we have a Christian Worldview and they don’t that we believe our own hype and fail to learn from others. That kind of attitude kills our witness as well ignores history. How many times in the past has the Church assumed it knew something and condemned and even persecuted others for disagreeing.

      We might think that we have a Christian Worldview but really what we usually practice is syncretism–the forced mixing of incompatible views. This is because not only are we Christians, we are Americans or Western Civ people who assume that that many of our American or Western civ beliefs are Godly when, in fact, they are merely parochial.

      Remember Romans 2:1 before you are so willing to tee off at nonbelievers for completely having the wrong worldview.

  • Dudley

    Thanks for a well-written and thoughtful article. As a pediatrician, I regularly interact with parents from all walks of life weighing the school decision. My daily battle is to help them overcome fear — in fact, “fear-based parenting” is endemic in both Christian and non-Christian families, as far as I can tell. The Great News of the gospel sets us free from that mindset, and opens the door to unexpected delights, challenges, joys — and the deepening of our roots of faith. We intentionally started our 3 girls in a local Christian school, then moved them at third grade to the public system. They have had some excellent teachers, some rotten ones, and mostly good ones — no matter the school! But we have found that choosing public schools has not limited our Father’s abilities, actions or plans in any way and has been used by him in surprising, exciting ways. Now that’s really Great News!

  • Isaac

    Transitively, I was saved by going to public school.

    Of course this is all conjecture, as we can’t forsee how things would actually play out, but had I not gone to public school, I probably would have continued to wallow in a “culturally Christian” lifestyle. However, at public school, I became involved with the ministry of Young Life; at first, because it was fun, and later–after meeting Jesus–because I wanted to see my classmates come to know Christ too. As a sophomore in high school, I committed my life to Christ at a weekend trip with Young Life. Young Life’s mission fields are public middle and high schools (albeit, they do work in private schools too).

    Four years at a public university only solidified my faith and allowed me the opportunity to serve as a volunteer leader with Young Life. In a lot of ways, my brother and I coming to faith through this ministry spurred our parents along in their faith to the point where we are all now walking closely with the Lord.

    In a round-a-bout way, God worked through public school to save my family and me!

    I really enjoyed this article as it raises a lot of interesting questions about why people choose certain education options for their children. While children aren’t anywhere close to the horizon for me, it’s great to think about this! Thanks for sharing.

  • Julie

    I am thankful for this whole series, and am saddened by disunity in the Body over schooling choices and convictions. But the presence of disunity should not encourage quietness on the subject, because the young families out there are desperate for wise counsel on how to take their schooling choice and pursue it with faith and love.

    Our schooling choice should be an outpouring of our hearts and our love for the gospel. Too often we see families hope for the schooling choice to produce the heart. ‘Cause really our schooling choice is but dust, a speck, a short temporal moment in light of eternity and in light of building our kids to be conquerors in the Kingdom. If my hope is in our family’s schooling choice, then we’ve crafted an idol.

    Our hope will always be Jesus…….public, private or homeschooled. I can teach Jesus. I can live the gospel. The Holy Spirit will protect and pursue my kids more than I ever have, can or will do so.

    -a military wife, homeschool mom of 4.

  • Adele Weeks

    I wonder what would be your response if in high school your child were assigned to read novels that were full of graphic descriptions of homosexual sex practices. Would you pre-read everything they were assigned, or would you let them read them and then try to deal with the images that were now in their minds? We live in Racine, WI, and our daughter had to read novels like this in English in public school. True, you can teach that that those practices are not good things to do, but the images are then in your child’s mind forever. There are also subtle currents running through history texts that may convince your son or daughter to disdain America and/or the free market, to become militantly feminist, which will result in her having a biblical marriage, etc. After our daughter’s experience, we homeschooled our sons. They received a wholesome education and all of our children were National Merit finalists. I won’t preach to anyone about what they should do regarding education, and I know many homeschooled kids who now are going the other way and sending their kids to public schools. But I would just urge you to be vigilant; and once the Common Core is implemented, if you don’t like something your child is having to do or be taught, you will have no recourse, because the federal gov’t is in charge of it.

  • Kristin

    As a parent who has spent many, many hours considering all of the educational options for my children (and at the moment have my eldest, who just finished kindergarten, in a private Christian school)I feel I must respectfully challenge the “fear based decision” point that has been brought up in the comments. Simply acknowledging that public schools can and will influence our children negatively is not living in a spirit of fear. In fact, most parents choose not to allow their children to be subjected to harmful influences of many kinds (violent video games, sexually explicit movies, etc.). This type of protection is not living in fear nor is it lacking a trust in God’s ability to save our children despite these experiences. It is simply living wisely. I absolutely trust that God can save my children no matter what they experience in their lives but while they are entrusted to me my job is to do what I can to make sure those experiences are spiritually healthy. In fact, I can say with 100% certainty that if I would have chosen public schools it would have been a fear based decision. Fear that God would not provide financially for private school. Fear that I would fail as a homeschool mom. At some point our decision may change (if I can get past my fear of homeschooling!) and I respect the viewpoint offered in this article but just wanted to defend those of us who have made a decision to avoid public schools because of the facts available to us, not out of a spirit of fear.

  • johnny

    homeschool: most ideal
    private school: ok, but costly
    public school: rolling the dice!

    -father of three who needs to make a decision soon!

  • Chris R

    God is sovereign and has perfect judgment. We have neither attribute. I am the product of public schools, which a brief expedition to a private Christian school, and I have no doubt that God can and is working no matter what your choice is. If you believe that God is truly sovereign then make the choice that makes the most sense for your child and be the parent you are called to be by scripture (i.e. praying, discipling, disciplining) and trust that God’s promises are true. I have always felt this whole argument was silly, but if we are going to argue about it at least be civil. We can all agree that this issue is unclear, so let’s everyone just relax and get back to life.

    • Brenda

      Chris R, I completely agree with every word of your comment. Thank you!

  • Trent DeJong (@Dryb0nz)

    At the root of this discussion (deeper than money even) is how one views Christ’s relationship to culture. Christian schools that arise from Christ AGAINST Culture paradigm, and much different than those that see Christ TRANSFORMING culture. If Culture is EVIL, then you’d more likely homeschool or enrol your children in a protectionist school. If you beleive that the best of Culture is found in Christianity, then a public school makes the most sense. I don’t agree with either, so I am careful about what christian school I send my kids to. I am passionate about it, so I wrote about it:

  • Esther O’Reilly

    “Public school reinforced for our kids that home, rather than their peer group, is their primary place of community. Home is a safe place where they can expect to be treated with kindness and gentle speech. Their peer group? Not so much.”

    Some questions:

    1. If you are describing home as a “safe” place, to what extent would you say the peer group is “unsafe”?

    2. If your children are being bullied by their peers, how is this a good or helpful thing for them?

    3. How do you know that given the choice of “peer group” or “family,” that children are naturally prone to cling to the latter rather than trying to adapt to the former? It seems that on the contrary, most children will attempt to blend in with whatever group of people they see the most. The “clique” atmosphere of public school springs from a culture of “cool,” where the losers are the ones who don’t fit in. What child wants to be a loser? Your particular children may have had the opposite reaction, but please understand that this is not the ordinary experience for a great many families.

  • jane

    Love this! I read it before on your blog. Thanks, Jen!! Keep on, girlie!

  • Nick

    This can certainly be a frustrating topic. When talking about topics so personal, it is easy to take a personal offense to other views. Hopefully we can agree to be unified despite disagreement in this area. Several thoughts after reading all these comments:

    1) It is not helpful to say, “All options are valid, so pick which one works best for your child.” Obviously parents are going to do what they feel is best for their child, but whether or not all options even are valid is part of the discussion. I personally believe our government schools are near a tipping point where they are no longer Biblically valid and a Christ-honoring option for parents. We’re going to have to find our unity outside of saying “all options are valid” because we do not all believe that.

    2) It is shameful to use God’s sovereignty as an excuse for not considering wisdom. I don’t think that was the intent of any poster here, but several posts came very close to conveying this idea. We have to be more mature than using “God will save whom He will save” as an argument stopper. Using that as an argument in this situation is hyper-Calvinistic. God’s ultimate sovereignty over all things does not mean we don’t have to do the hard work of seeking wisdom in all areas. “God is sovereign, and He may just use your lack of wisdom in choosing government education in His sovereign plan to see that your child is not elect.” I do not mean that in the least, and so the counter argument is not valid either.

    3) Personal antidotes and stories do not help us in this discussion. Everyone can come up with a story for and against every school choice. These personal stories are NOT relevant. Statistics WOULD be relevant if we had any good ones. We need to be applying Biblical wisdom to each choice, that is the discussion that will be helpful.

    • Heather

      I heard a video of Dr. Voddie Baucham Jr speak on this verse: Deuteronomy 6:6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

      I used to teach public school before my husband and I became missionaries working with college students. We chose for many reasons (both Spiritually and Educationally) to homeschool our children. Yet, I always felt like whatever others chose was fine. Then I heard Voddie speak & I prayed about that verse. I urge any Christian parent to weigh that verse carefully when they are choosing their schooling options.

      • Tommy O’Keefe

        That verse applied the way that Vodie applies it is dangerous. The differences between Ancient Near East agrarian culture and the current reality we face here in the West are staggering. I think that the appropriate application of that verse can be walked out in any schooling choice, it just takes a deliberate choice on the part of the parents to be actively engaged.

        Some of the material that comes from people like Vodie leaves the least, the last and the lost in a hopeless situation. What about the single mom in an urban setting? What about the immigrant family that can’t make it on one income family? For me, anytime a stance leaves those that Jesus tells us He specifically came for sitting on the outside with no hope of getting in, I have a good deal of hesitation affirming it. Just something to consider.

        • Heather

          Single Moms can homeschool. Poor people can homeschool. There is a family in my church that homeschools. The Mom makes pies at a restaurant during the night. The Dad delivers pies for the restaurant during the day. (They do not own the restaurant, they are just employees.) They share the teaching of their 4 children between them. It is hard, challenging, but not impossible.

    • Curt Day

      The plural of anecdote is data. In addition, anecdotes can disprove universal statements. There is a place for anecdotes as well as other kinds of data.

      Also, we sent our kids to public school. Things worked out. But more importantly, we sent them there because we knew that they could learn stuff from their teachers that we could never teach. I believe that it is best to have each child know a vetted community of adults so they can have multiple counselors with multiple perspectives. I am a father to my children. But I am not, nor should I be, everything to my children.

      • Nick

        “The plural of anecdote is data.” – This is just not a true statement. Even lots of anecdotes are not data if they are not scientifically gathered. I think my point stands that personal stories are not helping us in this discussion, regardless of our viewpoint. I’m interested in seeing the discussion move forward, and “Well I know someone who” is not going to get us anywhere.

        Also, I think everyone here is intentionally making sure their comments are not universal. That should be obvious, but it’s also been stated.

        That does not mean, however, that some wisdom is not widely applicable. There are wisdom principles that would lead us away from state-controlled education, imo. That discussion would be helpful, even if others think wisdom does not lead there. I would be interested in hearing about that.

        I think Biblical wisdom would also lead us away from putting teachers in front of children who hold “multiple perspectives” that are not Biblical. You mention a vetted community of adults. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on how, like the author Jen stated earlier to me, a practicing homosexual would pass your vetting process to be put in front of your children as a respected teacher. I don’t know how Biblically one could get there.

        • Rett


          I agree with and have expressed your points many many times over. I think that the comments here expose that the growing (and evolving) apologetic for public education among bible believing Christians has been tried and found wanting.

        • Curt Day

          We learn from many sources. We learn from the systematic collection of data. We also learn from the collection of life experiences. An anecdote belongs to the latter and thus when in the plural, as a business prof former colleague of mine said, constitutes data

          As for vetting adult influences, it depends on how they will influence. Certain, if someone was a practicing homosexual and presented themselves a church leader or teacher, there would be concerns that would be difficult to overcome. But what would be wrong if a public or private school teacher was homosexual? Why couldn’t your kids benefit significantly from their expertise and skills?

          A close friend of the family disappeared for 10 years from our lives. That close friend was scared that if I knew he was gay, it would hurt the friendship. That close friend contributed in significant and positive ways to everybody in the family. Last semester, one of my favorite people good friends at work was gay. This person was a great help to me. So the question I have is this: If I keep my kids from having teachers or family friends who are gay, what messages am I passing on to the kids?

          • Nate

            It would seem to me that the issue is one of authority over the child. There is a difference between having family friends that are unbelievers (gay or straight) that are in your family’s life and handing your child over to be taught by someone who does not share your beliefs.

            If you place your child under anyone else’s authority, and having anyone else provide instruction to them is just that, you should be considering what that person’s character and view of the world are and how that will potentially affect your children.

            You are on some level condoning whatever the teacher is teaching by placing your child under their instruction. You can always have conversations to redirect that instruction but it is always harder to rebuild than build new.

            • Curt Day

              It is called trust and that the problem. The way we have created our worldview sometimes prevents trusting those who are different. And do I want my kids to be able to trust those who are different becomes the question

            • Nate


              I agree with you that we need to teach our children to be able to trust those who are different. However, we also are called to use discernment. If the public school / teachers are able to provide a basis of trust to educate our children, I think that it is a valid option. I don’t believe that they should be trusted just because they are the “public schools” and are supposed to be impartial. Much has been done throughout the education system to erode the ability to trust the public schools in my area, not to mention the desires of the Federal Education Department.
              I agree with many of the comments here that Homeschool / Christian school is not an easy or available option. However, as Christians we shouldn’t do ANYTHING the culture does without giving some serious thought as to WHY it is done.
              I am thankful that TGC has posted these articles to facilitate those thoughts.
              It is a questions of Receive, Redeem, or Reject. There are some areas where parents can still receive or Redeem the cultural provided education for their children without significant issues. But there are also areas where the cultural norm should be rejected.
              As Christians we should always be able to respectfully converse with and interact with those who we disagree. But we also must remember that on the last day those who have been put in authority will be judged on how we used that authority. If we give away the God given authority to teach our children the way they should go (and I would say that INVOLVED parents in the public schools have NOT given this away, necessarily) there will be something to talk about on that day.

            • Curt Day

              Then it matters on why we have put our children in the temporary care of others. Is it from a recognition of our own shortcomings or the strength of others or is it from a fleeing from one’s responsibilities? It is tough to tell from the outside but the kids know.

  • Phillip Holmes

    “I should note that we did not send our children to public school to be “salt and light.” We sent them to public school to receive an education. We did not try to strategically position our kids as miniature missionaries in their kindergarten class.”

    I intend, Lord willing, to homeschool my kids if the Lord blesses me with some, however, I was relieved she said this. The whole “salt and light” argument is quite annoying and usually used because public school advocates heard someone else say it. Glad TGC is providing a platform to deal with this.

  • paul joules

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this issue in a missionary context. My wife and I are church planters outside of N. America. Would you still believe in public school, when the kids are being raised in a culture, where we don’t know how the schools are, since we weren’t raised there, or would you automatically pull them out and homeschool them?

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  • Danielle

    Thanks for sharing Jenn! Our girls went to public school and I taught in public school. We are now moving overseas where they will be at a private school. I loved reading this and actually wrote a post this week as part of a series on why we sent our kids to public school!

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  • Chris R

    While I completely agree that education is all about teaching a person to think, I think people are largely underestimating how influential parents are in all three educational environments. From what I have seen in my own life and the lives of those around me (large public schools, large public university, decent size law school, and lived in cities my entire life)parents do play a huge role in teaching their children to think. There are tons of studies on how many children from all backgrounds conform to the political and social beliefs of their parents, which is evidence that what happens and is said at home still plays a huge role in children’s development. Education is really about teaching a child/adult to educate themselves. Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that just because a child goes to a private christian school or is homeschooled that they will go off to college and be any more safe from the influences of modern philosophy. That is just patently untrue (for evidence look at the article from a few days ago on this site about christian children retaining their faith in college).I reaffirm what I said earlier which is that my understanding of this issue based upon application of biblical discernment is that parents, using wisdom and trusting our sovereign God, can choose any of the options above depending on what is best for their child, their own situation, and the situation in their local community (we haven’t talked about this but there are big differences in different communities across the country when it comes to public/private/homeschool). I am not advocating for a let go and let God attitude, but I fully believe in the fact that God is completely sovereign and if a decision is made based on Godly discernment and wisdom then I trust it is his will.

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  • Mark

    I think we as a nation (and a people) are caught up in the fair and balanced approach. I think we are drinking the cool-aid of tolerance. We give legitimacy to other people’s views/opinions just because they are different, and since we are fair and balanced we think we need to give them a sounding board. This is post Christian thinking. It doesn’t push people to go back to God’s word. It doesn’t search for wisdom. Christianity isn’t always as clear as the commandment that tells us not to kill. The Bible doesn’t tell us specifically if we can send our children to a public school. Yet, there are very clear directives that give us great insight and wisdom. We should be able to anchor our thinking in biblical wisdom and show verses that anchor our thinking. I would like to see all three articles re-written showing some biblical background to anchor the thinking. Opinions are nice, but irrelevant to a Bible believing Christian. Deut 6, Pr 1:7, Eph. 6:4, Luke 6:40, 2 Cor 10:5 are just a few of the relevant verses. I didn’t see anyone touching the myth of neutrality.

    • Curt Day

      Actually, we are caught up in the fair and balanced approach because of the worth we ascribe to those who are different. We regard them as equals in society. But because we make room in society for those who are different doesn’t meant that what we say as individuals or the Church has to compromise what the Scriptures say.

      Furthermore, we don’t want our kids to be into Christian-Amish communities. Again, the implication is that we have everything to teach and nothing to learn. When our kids realize absurdity of such an attitude and that we have associated that viewpoint with the Gospel, we invite them to leave the faith

      See the link from my first post

    • Kayla

      Thank you, Mark. My thoughts exactly. We have to look at facts and God’s Word, not just our personal opinions and testimonies. Facts and history show that the teaching in public school is sadly not neutral, but rather was founded by radical anti-Christian people and their agenda is still being pushed today. Facts also show that about 80% of Christian young adults that attended public school walk away from the church. God’s word says (Deuteronomy 6) that a love for God that includes heart, soul, MIND, and strength should be taught diligently to our children. And the evidence in that verse points to home (“when you sit in your house..when you lie down, and rise”).

      Also, by choosing to not send your kid to public school doesn’t put them under the umbrella of a “Christian-Amish” community. We are not saying to lock them away from all contact with the outside world, but rather to NOT put them under direct teaching that is contrary to a Biblical worldview. For all the hours kids spend at school, that is a LOT of time parents have to spend at home correcting what was incorrectly taught. Surely children can be exposed to worldviews that are contrary to their own without having to be placed directly under the teaching of them. School is not about academics, but about ideas. What ideas are the majority of our children getting out of public school? Statistics show they are ones that lead them to leave the faith. This is a wake-up call.

      • Curt Day

        First, don’t you realize that Christians, as well as nonChristians, teach in the public schools? And what radical anti-Christian agenda is being pushed by the public schools? Even after prayer and Bible reading was taken out of the schools, my experience as a student and a father of 2 kids didn’t experience any radical anti-Christian agenda.

        Second, the idea of public schools is that we spread our concern for the education of all kids including those not in our immediate group. I hardly suspect that that is anti-Christian.

        Third, If you look at being Christian Amish as a discrete characteristic, there are very few groups like that. But if you look at it as a continuous characteristic, then we are looking at degrees. And when you ban someone from public school because of a fear that nonChristian world views might be passed down, you are creating a world view phobia that affects how much they will listen to others in the future. Here, I would point you to the article The Christian Attitude That Speaks Louder Than Words

        What I found with so call “Christian” world views is that they have been compromised by tribalism that comes in the form of patriotism and American exceptionalism.

        Believe it or not, some of those anti-Christian world views are far more Biblical than many of the Christian world views I have read and heard

        I am not saying that one must send their kids to public school. But the decision should be on a case by case situation and I find your comments regarding public school to be too general to portray what is going on. THe major problems that public schools experience today have little to do with world views.

        • Nate


          You treat education as a neutral factor in creation of a person’s world view. It’s not. Education is one of the primary ways someone learns a worldview. A worldview forms the basis of interpreting the world around you. That is exactly what is being taught in all education, be it math, science, language, even music. All of the things taught help form the framework to interpret the world. Believe what you want about where to send your kids but the truth is that ALL education helps to create a worldview.
          Also I’m surprised that you haven’t heard about the numerous valedictorians that have been censored from sharing their faith, or the children who can’t pass out treats with Jesus loves you written on them or that teachers can’t have a Bible on their desk because it might offend someone. There is much that happens in the public school system all over the country that speaks the the “anti-christian” attitude that you dismiss.
          I ran across a quote that you might find interesting, “We are sending our children into the schools as missionaries and at the end we have children who no longer believe. Something needs to change” Just a thought for you.

        • Marla

          Well said, Kayla. I couldn’t have said it any better. And it needs to be said. For anyone who might doubt her comments about the “agenda” in public schools, please check out a book and documentary called IndoctriNation. While each individual local school may not have a specific agenda, I assure you the government does. And that trickles down. There is a question in that documentary that really got me– would you send your child to a Muslim school? If you told your Christian friends you were going to send your kids to a Muslim school, your friends would certainly speak up and try to change your mind. At the end of the day, is a government-run school that forbids the mention of Jesus really all that different? You are either for Christ or against Him. Thus our public schools are against Him.

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