My friend Steve Mcfarland has written a provocative and impassioned plea from a Christian in the public schools. Steve is asking his fellow Christians to not abandon one part of the culture- the public schools where millions of Christians work, millions of Christian kids attend, and millions of lost, hurting students need our help.
A plea like Steve’s isn’t heard much because it has to overcome the growing calls for Christians to abandon the public schools and homeschool. I want him to be heard.
Christ and the Public Schools by Steve Mcfarland
Let me get to the point quickly: If Christians left the public school sector – it would fall apart at the seams. Opinion you ask? No! That’s a fact! In my twelve years in an inner city, multi-racial public school I have witnessed personally the desperate need public education has for moral, biblical principles. Thank God that Christians still believe enough in this battleground to not run away to Christian schools exclusively. Abandoning the countless children who are desperate for a principled, right and wrong life that homes across the country have failed to provide would be an abomination to scriptural mandates with damaging consequences.
I love the school where I work. I love the students. Some of the kids I work with have shown more courage in a given day than my life will ever require of me. I have been in their homes and have talked with adults who are supposed to be taking care of them. Many struggle in school to a degree many would find unbelievable. Many come to school hungry and sleepy from long – frightening nights. Many reluctantly leave from school every afternoon and go back home – if you can call it that. Their lives are unstable, unhappy, scary places with adults who have lied to them and left them to fend for themselves. And they will come back here tomorrow and start over again.
Should Christians take the contemporary approach of isolating themselves from all evil influences of our society – I fear public schools will be first place Christ is abandoned. Modern evangelism seems satisfied to travel to the far ends of the earth to hand out Jesus Videos while forsaking the public school around the corner. It seems modern Christianity has lost sight of the mission field that is the public schools and have forsaken the social change they could effect by not only not abandoning public schools but by embracing it with love and biblical standards. The social consciousness of faith founders like John Calvin who worked to begin police and fire departments has been absolutely lost on the new generation of big church fanatics who continue to pat themselves for a job well done. Fill the auditorium and God must be overjoyed. But, get your kids out of that public school as quick as you can.
I have a question. Where did all the parents who are bashing away at public education go to school? I can’t remember a single child I grew up knowing who was home schooled. Everyone went to either public or parochial schools and most seem to turn out more than alright. I have been equally amused hearing so-called education experts bash public schools and promote continual change and reform. It seems they did fine with public education – enough so they are now in positions of leadership. Either they’re education was not as bad as they would have us believe or they need to step down from their positions and start over.
We have a lot of problems here in the school where I work. We have teachers who don’t care and should be doing something else entirely with their lives. There are also far too many children who are not successful academically. These are things that need to be fixed and we are working on it. I would argue that public educators are the most scrutinized workers in the United States. Public schools and their teachers are so pressured to raise student test scores – many are opting out early. It is a tough business.
We do not have the things I hear Christians up in arms over. We have never handed out condoms, promoted abortion or the gay lifestyle. To group my school with all public schools is unfair – even slanderous. The Christians who work in this system will not allow that to happen. Again, I thank God that Christ is still influencing decisions in the public schools. I pray that never ends.
So Christ is still here. Prayer has never left this place and as long as Christians don’t abandon it – never will. The Christian teachers in my building go home at night praying for these kids they love so much. Many pay for clothing and other needs such as Christmas gifts out of their own meager paychecks. These public school students are prayed for by Christian students at church on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Christian students are praying over their lunches and others are watching and wondering why. I have seen Christian students display more boldness for Christ in this school than I have seen anywhere – ever. I pray their parents don’t send them somewhere else.
I only wish we had more active Christian parents who would be involved in our school decisions, PTO, school board meetings, sports programs, and classrooms. I would like to call Christian families to embrace their public schools in a way that would bring real change in our world.
I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who argued that without public education we could not have a democracy. Public education will be around as long as our country allows a government by the people, for the people. It scares me to hear Christian friends of mine talk about the danger of public education and promote home schooling as if it is a biblical mandate. Christian friend I ask that you not pull your child out of our school. Come in and help us change things – change lives and change the world.