With the federal government currently reviewing the funding arrangements for public and private schools – through the Gonski report, the debate about the merits of various school options is sure to continue. Some of the most annimated and controversial comments on facebook and at church are around the merits of parents choice of schooling.
As a Christian parent who educates his children in a private Christian school you can expect that I am support of organised Christian education. While there are never any guarantees that sending your kids to a Christian school will make them love Christ, nor guarantee Christ-like behaviour; surrounding kids with other children of similar values does stack the odds in that favour. I have a conviction that young and impressionable children, should not be receiving mixed messages about our Creator, faith and values. This does not mean I will isolate my children through life. But greenhouses are perfectly acceptable environments for tender young plants. Until my children are strong enough to stand against the hostile winds of the world, I make no apologies for providing a shelter for young learning.
However, surprisingly, there are quite a number of Christians, including pastors, who see Christian schools as negative thing. I have personally heard pastors publicly rail against enrollment policies of other Christian schools – even though they don’t send their kids there. Recently, the Geneva Push advertised a requirement that an appointed pastor send their kids to state schools. Often such positions on supporting state education is based on the arguement of training their kids in evangelism. In this scenario, my experience has been that the most successful evangelists are the worldly kids and teachers who corrupt kids away from the faith of their parents. While I have no issue with pastors/parents who want to send to a state school, and I do believe we need more Christian teachers in the state system, when a group of Christians make state school attendance a requirement, then I will call them on it.
Christian schools or state schools alone never absolve parents of responsibility. Parents must realise that they have a God given responsibility to train up their children in the way that they should go. Parents should view their choice of school of an extension of that responsibility. When you choose a school to outsource that responsibility too, you must think carefully. For 30+ hours a week, their school will shape their beliefs and values. That is far more hours that they will spend with you or in church – combined. I think this is a major reason why many parents consider homeschooling.
I thank God for Christian education. I pray that God will hold back the devil from undermining the freedom – whether that opposition comes from the government, hostile teachers unions or even other Christians. I am so thankful that we have been able to identify some kids at our school whom encourage my son and daughter in following Christ. Again there are never any guarantees, so let’s remain prayerful and vigilant as we also train them at home.