Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Christians & The Home / Public School Battle

This space typically steers clear of politically polarizing issues, but as a parent who is currently both homeschooling my K4 twins and public schooling my K5 son this year, I have to hear both sides of the great divide.  Neither side is okay with the other.  Both sides espouse only the evils of the other.

I have to hear it all.  And it hurts my heart to the point I want to stand up and shout, "Stop It!!!"
That snarky little cartoon you posted on Facebook poking fun at home schoolers as being both ignorant and socially inept?  The hilarious picture you linked to where two little African children comment on how horrible American public education is because the children are forced to sit perfectly still all day long?

It's not funny.  Instead, it's divisive.

Sarcasm is anger's second cousin; it is a passive-aggressive way of saying, "I'm a better mom because I'm educating my child this way."

The problem, though, is not divisiveness in the political area. It's a much deeper division that pierces the very soul.  This war over the choice between public schooling and home schooling is pitting Christian against Christian, dividing brothers and sisters in Christ.

One child even asked his mother how I could send my oldest son to public school if I had really prayed to God about it.  The assumption was that I was a bad mother and a bad Christian for not homeschooling, that I was more spiritual if I kept my son home with me (and that he'd be more spiritual, too, by extension).  In another conversation, a friend made the assumption my twins' shyness was caused because I home schooled them and would lead them to become social lepers.  This time, I wasn't a bad Christian but was still a bad mother.

I am not merely a mother, though.  I am also an educator. 

Over the past fourteen years, I have taught your home schooled teens, your public schooled teens.  I have even taught those private schooled teenagers whose tuition cost more than I make in a year.

In the end?  I can't tell a difference among them. 

As a whole, I can't stereotype a home schooled student as being "closer to God" any more than I can stereotype him as "lacking significant social skills." Likewise, I can't stereotype a public schooled student as being a "standardized test robot lacking out-of-the-box critical thinking skills" nor can I stereotype him as being "less moral."

In composition courses where students reveal more of themselves in their writing than they would in a history or math class where facts and figures are more important than personal ideas, I get the privilege of learning who my students are as individuals. Yes, even on the college level, I know them...sometimes too personally.

I listen to their in-class discussions, read their heart-driven essays, have one-on-one office consultations.  By the semester's end, I know most of their histories, their current situations, their moral convictions, their religious beliefs, their political leanings, their dreams, their greatest hurts, loves, and failures.

Yet throughout it all, I can't really tell a blanket difference between the student who was educated in his kitchen or in a traditional classroom.   I'm equally as likely to have a conversation about God with either group.  (I'm also equally as likely to have my socks blown off by both group's immorality.)

Being a good mother? Being a good Christian?

It has nothing to do with whether you home school or public school.  It has to do with you obeying God's calling for your life, whatever that may look like.

Our household is a unique one.  I was public schooled from day one in kindergarten. My husband's academic upbringing was the exact opposite, with his mother home schooling him throughout elementary school and middle school, then home schooling through Pensacola Christian Academy for high school.

When husband and I married, we brought to the table our two completely different experiences on education.  Perhaps that's why we both have love in our hearts for these two styles of education rather than animosity for one side or the other, because we understand this is one of those areas not spelled out in a Biblical command but one where we must pray and receive guidance for our family.

Whether we realize it or not, with every negative word we speak about the "other side," with each sarcastically angry cartoon or comment we post on Facebook...we're creating the next holy war at the feet of our children.

I strongly believe Satan is working intently to break up the unity found in the church.  Where better to draw the dividing line than based on the definition of what makes a good or bad Christian? A good or bad parent? What better way than to discourage and divide rather than support and encourage.

Before I speak.  Before I post.  I need to ask myself if my words are opinion versus Biblical command, if my words can hurt, can offend, can divide versus draw my brothers and sisters in Christ together.

If the answer is yes, then I'd better hit delete.


  1. Thank you for this. I am a firm believer that--if God wanted someone else to decide how to raise my children--He would've given my children to that other person. My son is 13 and has always been (and thrived) in the public school system. But I am currently praying about whether or not to home educate my three little ones. I try to ignore what others say and listen to what God speaks into my heart.

  2. I needed this post and I was glad I kept scrolling and reading to find it. God lead me here. My daughter has been going to a private christian school since she was 3, she will be 6 in august. We have made the decision to put her into a public school near my work, I drive 25 miles one way since my office moved. This is an effort to help us financially and the after school care at the Y is going to run me 200 less a month than school. I have been going back and forth with the decision, judged and commented on from my christian sisters mostly that This is not Gods will for my life. It is a heart wrencher. Do I spend a little less for after school care, have my daughter in public school where she is just might be able to be a Light for Christ while still attending the same church and possibly be able to be even more involved in the church since I wont have to be working so many hours away to afford the school. Do I continue the path we have been on to protect her as others call it, the education standards at the school are high, the square spot they are trying to form my round child into bothers me. She isn't a sit down and be meek child in any sense of the word, if she isn't being the sunshine in the room and energetic something is not right with her. I am exhausted by the tally's for wiggling in her seat. Loads of frustration. I am committed that even while in the public school I will be doing bible teaching and extra work for her to keep her brain active - even through the summer. Anyways - thanks for the post, I agree that there is always a way the devil tries to divide, and I believe this is most certainly one.