Public Education

Did you know that at least part of the reason for Sunday School was to teach children – especially children living in poverty – how to read so they could read the Bible. In other words, publication education has its roots in the church.

Unfortunately, however, many evangelical churches and Christians were the first to abandon public education.

A lot of church based schools, especially in the South, started as a result of desegregation. It was as if the attitude of Bible believing, God fearing Christians was, “We don’t want our kids going to school with those kids.” Thankfully, over time, most of those same church based schools became integrated themselves, but it doesn’t change the “why” of the beginning of those schools.

In order to staff church based schools tremendous pressure was put on some to receive their teaching degrees and then return to the church based schools to begin their careers. In some fundamental circles, teaching in public schools was preached as a sin. Sending your children to public schools was seen as an even greater sin.

Thus, the church, in many ways, abandon public schools.

And now we are paying the price; reaping what was sown. Our public school system is in need of serious change.

The most recent edition of Sojourners magazine is dedicated to public education and how the church can be involved in transforming the system. Below are some links to a few of the articles in that publication. You may have to register with Sojourners in order to view some of the links. I believe it is free, but if there is a small charge, it will be worth it.

I have many friends and family who teach in public schools. I teach sociology at a local community college. Public education, at all levels, is a mission field. My school has a large international student body. It is not uncommon for me to have 10 plus nationalities in my classes. One local high school in my hometown has over 90 countries represented in its student body. The world is coming to the United States. Public school teachers are on the front lines and can really make a difference for the Kingdom.

As school begins, if you are teacher in the public schools, I want you to know how much I admire you. You are my heroes.

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About Pastor Kevin

I am a husband, father, pastor, teacher, scuba diver, reader, bike rider...in that order.
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8 Responses to Public Education

  1. Rick Polston says:

    I am a Special Education teacher in a public elementary school, and proud of it. I love my job! I also taught in a Christian school. Not much difference in the attitudes of most of the students. Several in the Christian school were kids who were expelled from the public schools who knew that they would not be turned away. Most Christian schools are hurting financially and need students. Regardless of where Christian teachers teach, we all need to be the examples God intends us to be!

    Rick Polston

  2. Jane Picirilli Johnson says:

    Thanks for what you wrote. I was one of those who was told after I graduated with my teaching degree that I would be sinning if I taught in a public school. I am presently a principal in a very multicultural public elementary school. It is truly a mission field. I’m so thankful I didn’t listen to the narrow-minded principal back in 1978. I did teach in both Christian and public school over the past 25+ years. The bottom line is we need Christian teachers in all schools!

  3. Trish says:

    Thanks, Kevin. I have thought about administration in the school system but I would miss the contact I have with kiddos. SO many needs out there that all I can do sometimes is just pray “God help me to know what to say, what to do, and when to keep my mouth shut.” I LOVE my job, though!

  4. I might guilty of being that narrow-minded principal Jane is referring to. I happen to be one who has received all of my education in public education (except for a couple of years at Welch College, formerly FWBBC) from elementary to a doctorate degree, BUT who has worked exclusively in Christian education since 1975. At the end of the day, it is a sin for any Christian educator to not be where God wants them to be. I am thankful for every “Christian” educator who is serving faithfully where God has placed them.

    I believe the greatest failure is not in the schools regardless of whether they are Christian or public – but rather in the home. Parents are the God-appointed leaders and teachers of children. Nowhere do we see that God gives the government or the state this responsibility. In spite of what Washington or government says or likes to think – children are NOT wards or possessions of the state – children belong to parents. Even though we say that children belong to parents – the truth is they are on loan from God. Each child is created by God in His own image and then given to parents, who are responsible to educate and train the child according to God’s Word. The ultimate responsibility clearly belongs to parents—not to the government, the church, or the school regardless of where it is a Christian school or a public school. This means that parents are responsible to God for the educators they choose to assist them in the education process. Christian parents will be held accountable before God for the Christian education of their children.

    I am more convinced than ever before that we must be more interested in how we are helping parents fulfill their biblical responsibility to direct and oversee the education of their children. It is great to build multiple ministries at our churches; it is great to produce wonderful schools and we should – but we better get back to helping and equipping parents in fulfilling their role in the home – which is truly the frontline of education.

  5. Jane Picirilli Johnson says:

    Actually, you are not the principal I was referring to. I wish you the best as you continue to help educate children.

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