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Charter Schools and Christians

A Pastor’s View

[The following article is based upon e-mail communications written by a California pastor. Here are his reasons for not wanting to endorse a charter school as an acceptable educational alternative.]

Charter schools are not a good alternative to private Christian homeschooling. There are serious problems with charter schools, only one of which is that to get state funds, the state dictates what they can and can’t teach. The same sex education and tolerance issues are present, as in public schools, because it is a government school. I would rather not have state money than lose the battle for a Biblical World View.

Charter schools are public schools and, as most charter school officials will admit, “cannot teach biblical precepts.” But in my opinion, that is the whole point of homeschooling – to not be like the public system. We as Christians want to be able to teach the Bible and Biblical principles and to instill them in our kids and have a basis for character and leadership. (It is like teaching law without the basis of law. Law without a Lawgiver.)

I believe that the Bible should be central in private Christian education. I believe it is difficult to teach character without reference to God and His standards – especially in our morally relativistic, pluralistic society. I find that many who have removed themselves from the public system did so in order to teach their children Biblical truth and values and not be dictated to by the state as to curriculum, moral points of view, or be exposed to the unbiblical worldviews of their teachers. As long as the state is involved, we relinquish a significant part of our freedom as Christian parents.

My wife and I have personally homeschooled our five children all the way through high school, with one now in college. I believe their good character is ultimately because their education has been based on God and His Word. I have also been a youth pastor for 28 years and seen the struggle kids have in the public system to retain their faith, especially when they go off to college. In my opinion, it is not so much location as to what is being taught day to day. The “God is irrelevant” silence is what is so destructive.

I know not everyone feels they can home school or afford private schools. But, as I see it, every effort should be made to try to do so, because there is so much at stake. The greatest problem with the Charter School choice is the same problem that I see in the public schools in general. It is with their (as they want to represent it) “God neutral” stance. When God is said to have nothing to do with math, science, philosophy, psychology, history, music – by never being mentioned – Christianity becomes only that which is good on Sunday morning and is seen to have no relevance to everyday life outside of personal ethics. I personally believe those who have sent their kids to the public system – and, again, a charter school is part of the public system – have exposed their kids to very dangerous philosophies and many may reap the consequences later in their life.

Over the years I have sat and listened to many, many graduation speeches and have often asked myself, “What does it mean to be educated?” “What have these kids been educated in?” Christian education should be far more than just learning facts that seem to be unrelated. During the beginning years of our country, the Bible and a Biblical Worldview was at the heart of all education. I think today we have lost our reference point.

When day after day subjects are taught with no mention of God and the Bible, God becomes minimalized – or silenced – at school. It is this day to day never mentioning God that I think is so subtly damaging to a child. With the “God neutral” stance, a student still arrives at the same place – practical atheism.

Unfortunately, today’s parents in general are failing to be part of their children’s education, and Christian parents specifically have not educated their children adequately in the things of the Lord. Most children from Christian homes are Biblically illiterate and are making unwise choices. They do not know the Bible well enough to know how to apply it to their lives.

I believe many Christian private schools also miss the boat as well. Sadly, they teach the Bible and the disciplines separately as though they have no connection. I don’t see a division between the secular and the sacred.

I have found that most elementary and high school kids are not exposed to much hostility towards Christianity. This is not true when they get to the secular college and university, where “God neutral” often becomes “God hostile” or worse: the absence of God. Again, God has become minimalized and silenced, and totally irrelevant.

God’s Word is clear on this. Proverbs 1:7 says:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. (NKJV)

Christian education must put Christ at the center of all the disciplines – for that is where we gain true wisdom in education and find the most true form of reality and a God-honoring worldview.

The Christian homeschool is the best forum for this, if there is freedom to integrate God with every subject, every event, and every choice. To truly be educated and be wise as a whole person we must see things from God’s perspective. God must not be compartmentalized out of the main part of our lives.

In Colossians 2:4, 8, Paul wrote:

Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. . . . Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the basic principles of the world and not according to Christ. (NKJV)

I see this as strong warning to resist the world’s “God neutral” program for the education of our children. Therefore, I cannot support the use of a government-funded charter school program for Christian parents to use in homeschooling their children. The Home School Legal Defense Association has also stood against charter schools. If anyone wants to be in the public system, that is their choice. But don’t be confused. A charter school cannot be a vehicle for Christian education. It is not like the private Christian home school movement.