By Scott Tibbs, March 12, 2008
Last week, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas repeated the familiar view that Christian parents are shirking their duty by sending their children to government schools. This is not an uncommon view among conservative Christians, and it does merit further exploration. Christians of good conscience (including some who could be described as "fundamentalists") disagree on this issue, so which side is right? I've never been one to look for ways to stay in the middle of the road, but I believe the answer is "both".
I can give you an example from personal experience. I went to a very small Christian high school, where part of our curriculum was studying the Bible. I then went to Indiana University, which cannot be described as an institution supportive of conservative Christian values. Reading several perspectives on political and ideological issues (and a steady diet of Rush Limbaugh's radio program) resulted in me actually being more conservative when I graduated than when I started. Being a conservative in a town like Bloomington, and especially on the Indiana University campus, forces one to develop deeper ideological roots because so much of the culture is opposed to your views.
But it is true that I was an adult when I started my college career, and the government school system presents some very real dangers. One of these dangers was the determination of the MCCSC School Board to survey students on their sex lives, without the express written consent of parents. This generated a large amount of controversy and MCCSC was forced to go with an "active consent" system. (See previous articles from articles from April 9, 2005, April 13, 2005 , April 14th, 2005 , May 4, 2005 and April 21, 2005.)
But what happened with the MCCSC "sex survey" three years ago also provides an example of how concerned parents (Christians and non-Christians) can deal with schools that act in an improper manner. MCCSC was forced to back down in the face of strong opposition by parents. Both parents and concerned citizens closely monitored the situation and made their opinions known.
It is possible to get a good education in the government school system, and to maintain a conservative Christian worldview at the same time. The key is for Christian parents to review what your children are being taught, discuss the subjects with your children, and make sure to teach your children the values that you them to have. In some cases, it will be necessary to "appeal unto Caesar" on behalf of your child. That is being done, at this moment, all over this country. For some parents, the best answer is a private school, and for others the best answer is home schooling. But the most important factor is to be involved with your child's life and his education.