How Christian schools make children LESS Christian

I’m a big believer in real-world parenting. This means that while our home is a safe, insular kind of “domestic church”–outside our home, I don’t intentionally shield my children from the realities of our world by sending them to private, Christian schools. I’ve never expected school (or even church) to reinforce my children’s faith identity. In short, that’s my job.

I simply don’t believe that sending a child to Christian school makes a child more Christian. In fact, I’m pretty sure a carefully controlled religious environment can actually have the opposite effect. Which is to say, I knew more hypocrites inside my tiny, sheltered Christian school than I did once I entered public school. I was a hardened little hypocrite myself. There seems to be something about insularity–even for “good” reasons like protecting a child’s faith–that engenders hypocrisy and self-righteous religiosity.

The last thing I want to do is create a pack of brazen little legalists sitting around our dinner table arguing minor points of theology–and my experience has been that the vast majority of Christian schools emphasize ideological conformity rather than messy, real-life, outwardly-focused faith.

The truth is that kids are kids are kids. Just because you’re in a Christian school does not mean your child is surrounded by good influences. Furthermore, Christianity was never meant to be sheltered behind impenetrable fortresses, totally removed from the culture wherein it dwells.

In order to achieve mature faith, every human being must go through trials by which the faith becomes real and personal. I see no reason to delay those kinds of refining experiences by building walls of insularity around my child. Our faith-centric home is insulation enough.

This is why there are only two reasons I’d send my children to private, Christian school:

  1. If the academic education was superior (and affordable)
  2. If it was physically safer

It wasn’t always this way, though. When my children were young, I was bound and determined NEVER to send my children to public school (those evil bastions of secular indoctrination!). When I expressed my fears to administrators of Christian schools, they were all too happy to feed and reinforce my anxieties. Of course, they also stood to profit from my fear.

Real Life Lesson #8,262: Be wary of advisers who profit from your fear.

These fears were only exacerbated by well-meaning Christian parents who said things like: “You never know what those public schools will teach your kids!” (To which I replied: “And you don’t really know what the Christian schools will teach your kid, either.”) I’m more afraid of the unquestioning religious child than the seeking non-believer.

The thing is, I’m not attempting to mold religious ideologues. Our home life is decidedly conservative and we teach the orthodox faith, but ultimately, I really do just trust the providence of God to grant my children the gift of faith. I do what I can and trust God to do the rest.

This is why I can mother without fear. I’m not worried about the future or my children’s faith. I never ask questions like: “what if my kids grow up and reject Christianity?” I just don’t worry about that. Instead, I pray. I commit them to God and then I enjoy life.

I believe a joyful Christian life lived openly in the secular world is a greater example than a private, sequestered Christianity lived out among other private, sequestered Christians.

After all, how can I be salt and light if I’m hiding inside a sheltered, separated Christian community?

  • Shsmith6174

    Couldn’t agree more!  I am a public school teacher and my children attend public school. I want my children to see the world from many different prospectives and to have a mutual respect for others and their beliefs.  I believe it is my job to teach my own children what their faith is all about.  I also believe that I can teach my students without telling them what to believe.  I think that if I demonstrate Christ-like characteristics each day while they are in my care, they are learning more than if I try to shove it down their throat and they are not interested.  Actions speak louder than words-right?  Public schools can say that there is a separation of church and state, but they can’t decide the choices I make for myself each day.  I can teach about others about Jesus by the way I live my life and without even saying a word:)

  • The Diaper Diaries

    While I normally agree with your posts, I think this one is a bit judgemental to those of us who have felt led to make a different choice. While I acutally have no problem with poeple sending their kids to public school (I went to public school and emerged with a strong faith) we spent time praying about where to send our kids to school and felt like Christian school was the best choice.

    I do not think it guarantees they will turn out Christian. I do not think it makes them better than public school kids. But I DO think it is part of my job to shelter them to a point from what is out there. They have been able to stay innocent much longer than others I see around them. The world is pushing our kids (especially our girls) to grow up far to fast and my girls have stayed insulated from that.

    There are downsides to my school, but there are to all schools. To sit in on chapel and see them freely worshiping God in a school setting brings tears to my eyes. To start conferences with their teachers praying over my children is priceless. To see my kids deal with struggles and hardships with prayer and scripture is awesome. And yes, we live it out at home, but by the time they are school age, they are away from me far more than they are with me.

    I would never presume to say that your schooling choice isn’t right for your family. Please don’t make widespread judgements about my choice. Also, I think it is unfortunate that people would send their kids to a school based on fear. My choice had nothing to do with fear, nor did the school ever try and sell me a fear based package.

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah {ShoutLaughLove}

    absolutely.   i’m a big public school advocate as well. certainly, different choices work best for different children and families, but we should never choose out of fear. i went to public school through university and it grew my faith tremendously.

  • http://grace-filled.net jen

    Actually, I fail to see the judgement of your decision in this entry.  She’s saying why SHE chose not to send her kids to a Christian school but I don’t see her presuming to tell you that you should have made a different decision.

  • http://twitter.com/AKAJaneRandom Paula Claunch

    I had some of those same concerns. I made sure that the school I chose was concerned with teaching kids to think critically, question what they had heard and above all put Christ first. I absolutely wanted them to be exposed to many different view points – I feel like the administration of the school we chose is concerned with that too. It is definitely something you have to do your research on. 

  • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa

    Totally agree! I had my kids in one of those super isolated churches and private church schools for far too long. And while we do homeschool, we have plenty of time in our ‘secular’ community enjoying friendships with all sorts of people. 

  • KatR

    I have a vivid memory from when I was attending church of listening to a couple who was freaking out because their high school senior son was considering attending a secular college. This was a kid who had attended Christian schools his whole life. I remember sitting there thinking “at some point, you are going to have to let him out of the Matrix”. (not yet apparently, they told him they wouldn’t pay for school unless he went to a Christian college. )

  • The Diaper Diaries

    I think the title suggests otherwise.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry you felt I was making “widespread judgments” about your decisions. I wasn’t (I mean, how would I do that since I don’t even know you or your family?). I’m glad Christian schooling is a good fit for your family. This post is more about why I support public schools and think they get a bad rap from Christians. Ultimately, there are no guarantees in parenting and we all must make our decisions according to what we know and believe at that time.

  • Crests

    i see it like when a parent never lets their kid get or stay dirty so they never really build up an immunity to anything

  • Anonymous

    If I’m reading your original comment correctly, it seems like you actually agree with the title. You wrote: “I do not think it (Christian school) guarantees they will turn out Christian.” Isn’t that pretty much what my post’s title is saying? :)

  • Anonymous

    YES! That’s *exactly* my point!

  • http://bunkersdown.com Ami

    I agree that a little sheltering done with thoughtful prayer and consideration makes a huge difference when children are in their early years of school.  There is such a rush for children, especially the girls, to mature far too fast.  This is one reason why we homeschool, so that my children can enjoy their childhood just a wee bit longer than the average kid can in my neighborhood of our big city.

  • Anonymous

    I love seeing churches that work to help ALL children through the public schools, even though they can’t explicitly teach Christianity there. All children matter.

  • http://grace-filled.net jen

    I think you’re reading your insecurities about your decision into this.

  • Anonymous

    I hear you, I just wonder how you can expect them to be exposed to “many different points of view” when they are being schooled in an environment that specifically caters to ONE point of view? Just curious (not trying to be combative!) :)

  • Anonymous

    Wow—tuition blackmail! Thou shalt go to a Christian school or else! Eeek!

  • http://twitter.com/dashingly Lindsey

    I want to send my kids to a private Christian school. I’ve found the curriculum to be superior to the public school system and I want them to learn *something* Christian outside of home and church (and the word “God” has been taken out of the public system here). I’d not thought of doing it to segregate them from little heathen kids.
    To be honest, I don’t think that kids in the Christian system necessarily act any more religious though. There are still issues like bullying, drugs, whatever. 

  • Anonymous

    I actually think that (when done well), homeschooling can often be a better option than private, Christian schooling. Even so, my public schooled kids are enjoying their childhoods. :)

  • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com/ Sarah Moon

    I love this. I went to a Christian school my whole life and I feel like the past 4 years of my life have been all about desperately unlearning everything I learned there so that I could find Jesus somewhere in all the clutter. 

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I went through some pretty heavy deconstruction in order to rebuild my faith, too. Hugs to you!

  • http://www.alise-write.com Alise Wright

    I attended a Christian school through 8th grade, at which point I entered the public high school.

    My experience definitely did not endear me to Christian education. I encountered the same kind of junk in Christian school that I did in public school, but it was way worse at the Christian school for a couple of reasons (again, this was just my school, not suggesting that all are the same).

    1. The classes were way smaller. As a result, I had far less of an opportunity to escape the bad. When the whole class is 8 people and two of the girls decide they don’t like you, well, that’s a quarter of your class. If two girls out of 100 don’t like you, no bigs. There are plenty of other people to talk to. 

    2. The negative stuff is associated with God. Because here we’re all supposed to be Christians, the disconnect between how we’re supposed to behave and how we DO behave is far, far more noticeable. Honestly, a lot of my earliest “God problems” were because of this disconnect.

    I got into much worse trouble in my Christian school than I ever did in the four years of public high school that followed. I don’t think my sisters (both of whom are far better Christians than I am and are far more conservative & concerned about sheltering than I am) would consider Christian schooling after our experiences. 

  • Jawanmcginnis

    School is still just school unless grace is present….no matter what the institution.  Sin exists, sinners are abundant, and rebellion remains.  It’s all a heart issue (Ez 36:26).  All schools need the Light in this dark and broken world.

  • Leanne

    Your comment: “Be wary of advisers who profit from your fear.”

    My mom has taught in Christian schools most of my life, and I can guarantee that teaching in or administrating a Christian school does not make the big bucks.  Tuition is applied to keeping the school running – paying heating bills, keeping the lights on, and yes, paying [not very large] salaries.

    As far as education goes, each parent must do what they feel is best for their children.  I completely respect your and others’ opinions on that front.  I will say that my own Christian school experience did not turn me into a hypocrite or a legalist – quite the opposite, actually.  I learned to think critically – to read the Bible for myself, and was even first introduced to the concept of old-earth creationism!  Not to mention that’s where I met my husband, so I am admittedly a bit biased there :).

    But…I just want to give a shout-out to my mom and many others like here, who truly feel called to this line of work – and who are definitely not profiting from it.  I am not saying that there are NOT those who feed on and profit from people’s fear [cough, cough...Vision Forum...cough, cough!] – just pointing out that there are just as many out there who sacrifice bigger salaries and other “stuff” because they genuinely care about being role models and providing an excellent education.

    *My shout-out extends to underpaid public school teachers as well!!

    *Yes, we grew up with a pitifully low income.  But no, we were not neglected - we always had everything we needed and sometimes even a little extra.  They should send my mom to Washington to help balance the budget :).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1633636847 Lori Ventola

    As a former teacher at a Christian school, I want to say that I agree with you 100% on this post.  Of course, schools differ from one to another (and so do classrooms within schools), but it does seem to me that the very act of insulating your kids teaches them that Christianity is about insulation.

    I was talking tonight with a friend who writes children’s literature, and we were trying to think of children’s books that support the kind of sacrificial, giving, outward-focused faith we would like to instill in Christian children.  We couldn’t think of any.  Most of what we have seen teaches children that God loves THEM (and reinforces doctrine/dogma), but never seems to get around to encouraging children to make the leap of faith to live for Christ and for others.

  • Anonymous

    In the 50′s I attended public school from K through 4th.  Then I went to Catholic school from 5 – 8, as well as Catholic all girls high school and a Catholic university in the 2nd largest city in the U.S. at that time.  I taught in both public and Catholic schools. 

    I LOVED Catholic school.  I loved teaching in Catholic schools. (I am now retired from teaching.) 

    Teaching in the public school was rewarding, too  I liked the staff members for the most part very much.  What bothered me, though, is I felt as if I had a split personality.  The restrictions against religious expression meant I could not truly express myself because faith is so interwoven in the fabric of my life.

    As for critical thinking, yes, one can teach critical thinking skills in public school, but there is no critical thinking about religious matters that takes place.  The same critical thinking skills can be and are taught in Catholic schools and they can be applied to both secular and religious matters.

    Catholic education includes the whole person, body, mind, and soul.  Catholics respect both reason and faith, and do NOT see them as opposing forces.  Questions are welcomed and discussed.  Yes, doctrine in part of the curriculum.  Prayer, too, is integrated into the whole fabric of the day.  Gospel values permeate everything.

    Having experienced both types of education I chose Catholic education for my daughter, and she seemed to thrive there. 

    I just wanted to state that Catholic education as I experienced it was GREAT. 

    One of your other commentators mentioned the money issue.  Catholic schools operate as non-profit.  Tuition barely covers operating expenses and salaries.  I could never have afforded to teach in Catholic schools if not for my husband’s salary.  Also, one Catholic school where I worked offered free tuition to children of employees.  That was a huge blessing, and very rare.

  • Ambericvd

    This is why I love you E.E. Your posts make me want to pull my hair out but I cant stop reading. I will undoubtedly mull this over for days to come… just like I do whenever I read something of yours I disagree with.

    I take every thought captive to the Lord….and you know what? The times where I have thought I would NEVER see eye to eye with you, the Lord has used your posts to change my heart and see things as He sees them.

    So as much as I automatically disagree with this post, I will take it to the Lord in prayer and we will see if He will convict me otherwise. :) It’s been known to happen before.

    <3 the crazy blog sugar lady.

  • Anonymous

    I will send my kids to elementary parochial school because I like the way faith is integrated into everything. But like you, I’m pretty sure I want my kids exposd to the uglier, more challenging part of life BEFORE they leave home. So I don’t plan to carry on through high school.

    Our local school has often received criticism for clicquishness, which is the beginning (and sometimes the only recognized part) of what you’re tlaking about. But I figure at least my kids will get the theory as part of the total curriculum.

  • MInTheGap The

    I don’t know that there is any perfect schooling mechanism. 

    The problem I have with Christian schools is that they allow parents to believe that their kids are safe, and that it’s harder to spot the bad influences.

    Public Schooling has the problem that it preaches a secular worldview– whether it’s English class and watching what your kids read, to Science or History, every class is taught from a secular perspective.  Depending on the child, you can easily find that secular worldview permeating things if your child’s worldview that you don’t even know about.

    Homeschooling is great (it’s the option we’re doing), but it is a lot of work on the parent that is doing it.  These kids aren’t like normally schooled kids (which I deem a plus), but they don’t always behave like other schooled kids.

    I believe that a great argument can be made for parents being the sole teachers of children.  I can’t find anything in the Scripture that teaches that we should offsite school our kids, but I agree with EE, the whole burden of spiritual education relies on the parents.

    And that would be my takeaway point.  The point is involvement.  Are you, as the parent, involved?  I think that Christian School can tend to make the parent the least involved, and that is a danger.

  • Anonymous

    The word Christian is the one that I’m mulling over now.  Is there a difference between what you mean by a Christian school versus a Catholic parochial school?  I get confused, when I read some of the commentators remarks, as to what kind of school they mean.  For example, “I think that Christian School can tend to make the parent the least involved, and that is a danger.”  That statement is so opposite of my experience.

  • http://aloveaffairwithwords.blogspot.com Jenn

    I don’t have kids yet, but I’ve often had the exact same thoughts when it comes to education. I’m a public school kid myself, and I often found more acceptance from my secular peers than from the kids at youth group who attended the local private Christian school. 

    Of course, I realize this is just one experience and that not all kids from such backgrounds grow up as ostracizing hypocrites. But there’s something to be said for learning to articulate your faith to real people in the real world who come from very different backgrounds.

    When I actually have to make this decision for my kids and my family, who knows? Maybe I’ll end up deciding private or home schooling is best. But there certainly seems to be a trend these days among Christian families to automatically pull kids from public schools, and that makes me want to buck that trend.

    Thanks for this post!

  • http://anniesbutterworth.blogspot.com Annie

    *This is by far the longest blog comment I have ever written. Apologies in advance…*

    I attended private, Christian school from kindergarten through the 12th grade — a decision made, at first, by my parents, then eventually, by me. I attended a Presbyterian kindergarten, a Lutheran first grade, and a Baptist school from second grade on. When I graduated high school, I chose to attend — without any pushing from my parents, who both attended public schools and public universities — a private, Christian college. It’s a decision I’m still very glad I made.

    Because my own personal history is full of Christian education, I’ll admit, this post was a little hard for me to read; the title alone made my heart close up a little, made me a little resistant at first to what you had to say.

    I understand, though, where you are coming from, and you are absolutely right: Christian school did not make me more Christian. It also did not hide from me the “secular”; I was exposed to a great many viewpoints and personalities and doctrines and, as you mentioned, hypocrisies. I did not feel sheltered or insulated; my parents did not send me to a Christian school in order to “shield” me or my brother from the realities of this world. I’m sure that as a parent, you know: There is no shielding your child from reality. It abounds in every place, church and Christian schools included. And although I made a handful of incredible friends, I was not surrounded by good influences. Instead, just as public school students have to do, I had to use wisdom and judgment to formulate friends who would strengthen — and in some cases, challenge — my faith.  Since I was not Presbyterian, nor Lutheran, nor Baptist, I went to school and was taught some things I had never heard before. I still treasure the conversations I had with my parents at the dinner table each night as I came home from school with so many questions about faith and lived-out grace.

    I’m not sure what I would be like today if I had attended public school. I have good friends and family (including, remember, my own parents) who did attend public school, and their examples of faith are a blessing to me. I do not for one second believe that my attendance at a private, Christian school makes me a “better” Christian or, even, a stronger believer. Instead, in my own personal experience, I believe Christian education taught me to ask questions. It opened my eyes to the experiences and the stories of those around me. It helped me to discern true belief from false belief, true faith from showy faith. In some cases, it cemented the Scriptures I was taught regularly at home; in other cases, it challenged it. I am inquisitive and curious and open because of my education, not in spite of it. And while I fully acknowledge that my own Christian education may not be the norm — I’m convinced that just as every public school is different, so is every Christian school — I still am grateful for the decision my parents made many years ago.

    No system of education is perfect, and if/when my husband and I have children of our own, I’m not quite sure what decisions we will make regarding how they receive formal education. But I do know that just as I don’t want to pass judgment on parents who choose to send their children to public school, I wouldn’t want to be judged harshly for sending my children to Christian school.

    Today, as I live “openly in the secular world,” (i.e., at a regular job where there are no chapel services or designated prayer times or Bible verses set to song), I live out the faith I was taught at home, the faith that was cemented through my educational experiences, and the faith God and I struggle with on a daily basis. I suppose, for a time, I lived among “private, sequestered Christians.” But I don’t think that resulted in a private, sequestered Christianity.

  • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa

    The school my kids were in would never teach in another point of view. Even asking about some things got my kids the cold stare of “Silence!”

  • http://www.summit-christian-academy.com/ Cmerrel

    I agree with Diaper Diaries- I  agree with most of your posts but think this is on the side of judgmental.- I like the advantages of the christian school in my area. The class size is small and the prep courses for the students are out of this world.  I am not sending my children to a christian school with hope that they will turn out “more christian” – I am sending them to a christian school because I like what the school has to offer.   

  • Kim

    Thank you for this post.  I have many Christian friends who send their kids to Christian schools, socialize only with Christians, and only allow their kids to hang out with Christian kids.  My kids go to public school, have friends of all faiths and no faith, and are very comfortable sharing their faith in a mixed-faith environment.  When people raise their eyebrows about our public school choice, I usually bring up the idea that as Christians, we are supposed to be the salt of the Earth.  Well, how can you salt the Earth if you never get out of the salt shaker? I raise my kids in a faith-centered home, encourage them to be bold in sharing their faith, and trust that God will guide them along His chosen path. I truly believe that we, as a family, can have a greater impact on the  world in this way as oppossed to being sequestered in an exclusively Christian environment. 

  • Christine DeNio

    I hope you are speaking of a specific type of Christian school when saying they make kids “less Christian”.  These descriptions of sequestration and close-mindedness couldn’t be further from my experience of Catholic education in my area (MN).  My five children attended Catholic grade school and high school; I have a child currently in a Catholic college (where service and social responsibility are almost over-emphasized!), and I work in a big-city Catholic high school.  We do so much more with so much less than public schools, we welcome students of all backgrounds and denominations, our students are required to serve the poor, and to respect all faiths while learning and practicing their own.  Faith, and the responsibility that accompany it, is across the curriculum and on the athletic field; everywhere.  Our administrators can make decisions that serve the needs of our student community without answering to a one-size-fits-all bureaucracy.  Our biggest challenge is having the resources to help more students meet the cost of attendance.  We meet teenagers where they are, with their wonderful questioning minds, and still-developing frontal lobes J
     I myself attended all public schools, and of course I believe in supporting them as part of the community.  In a dream world public and parochial schools could combine resources with amazing results, but our current laws and policies make this impossible.

  • Anonymous

    I went to a Christian school run by an independent, fundamental, KJV-only Baptist church. I agree with EE.  I was taught that I was better than “public school kids.” There was no compassion and we did debate little points of theology amongst ourselves.

    I can’t name how many people got “saved” at every tent meeting, winter camp, VBS, and fellowship. Because we were taught that “those kids” weren’t good enough, if we screwed up even once, there was that possibility that we weren’t saved either. We lived in self-doubt and fear. But “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7) Ironically, I think that the KJV of this verse is the perfect translation. Some versions use the words self discipline or sobriety or self control, but to me the opposite of “sound mind” is crazy, lunacy, insane. So the spirit of fear is not given by God, he has given us power, and love, and “not crazy.” :)

    If only the public schools in my school district had better curriculum.  I will say that the curriculum I used in school was superb, and I don’t feel that the curriculum our school district uses even begins to match up.

  • Nurse Bee

    I went to a private Christian college right out of high school.  I think I imagined it would be like the summer camps I attended…people who love the Lord all working and learning together.  In reality, there were a fair amount of students who were there only because that was where their parents wanted them to go.  The hypocrisy and apathy was amazing and it really shook my faith.  I transferred to a state school and it was just so much better for me.

    For my kids, I’m not sure.  Homeschooling is not an option (I do think I would be a terrible homeschooler anyways).   But we have a few years to decide what to do.

  • Anonymous

    My experience is with Protestant and non-denominational Christian schools. The Catholic schools I’ve toured have been 1.) academically superior and 2.) far more service oriented than any other Protestant schools I’ve seen. If we could afford it, I would definitely consider Catholic school for my children.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for your thoughtful response (I always welcome long comments). I appreciate your insight and experience.

  • Anonymous

    Yep, and this is also what I encountered among school administrators, too. :)

  • Anonymous

    I’ve found in all my years of blogging that when people say I’m being judgmental, what they really mean is that their experience or beliefs are in disagreement with my opinion. You and Diaper Diaries are more than free to disagree with my opinions–but layering that disagreement by calling me judgmental is just sorta intellectually dishonest. We all have different opinions. This is my blog. These are my opinions. You have yours. And that’s great! But let’s keep this conversation civil by not hurling accusations of being “judgmental” at each other, ok? :)

  • SK

    I disagree with your very last statement-the Christian school my son attended for 13 years all but required that parent’s be involved!  It is a “parent-run” school, in that most of the faculty have students that attend or have attended, to serve on the board you MUST have students in the school, AND we “church-partner”, we have 5 local churches from DIFFERENT backgrounds & current demographics that offer spiritual guidance for the school as well.  We are not associated with ANY one church.

    Public schools offer much less opportunity for parent’s to be involved & many parents chose to NOT get involved there. (one of my best friends children have gone to public school their entire lives-she CHOSE to be as involved as the school system would let her watching while MOST other families were not involved in much at all)  Whereas, at the Christian school my son attended, MOST parents (mom & dad) were involved on a very regular basis, from teaching an elective, coaching a sport, helping with lunches, being a homeroom parent, to all of our special events at school.  I had the opportunity to connect with just about every family during the course of a school day at our school (which is 300 students)

    So to say that, “I think that Christian School can tend to make the parent the least involved, and that is a danger.”  you are making a broad assumption of Christian schools.

  • Anonymous

    That’s great! Sounds like you’ve found a fantastic school with lots of parent involvement. Understand, though, that is also the result of economic privilege. Many, many parents have to work full-time and it is a kind of discrimination to require that level of parental involvement from parents who simply can’t give it due to their economic situation.

  • Anonymous

    Yes! And I’ve noticed another trend: parents who were given a public school education want to give their own children the Christian schooling they never had.

  • http://invisibleforeigner.tumblr.com invisibleforeigner

    This is actually the main reason I didn’t end up going to a Christian college, even though I got a scholarship and the money would have been nice. I like that at my university, you have to personally identify as Christian, that it’s not the default. That kind of faith seems much more genuine to me, because it’s a conscious decision you have to make to identify that way. I was afraid that a Christian school I could get away with just being Christian in name only, and I didn’t want to be tempted.

  • The Diaper Diaries

    For the record, I have absolutely not one insecurity about my decision. As I said in my comment we prayerfully considered all the options and felt this is where God led us to.

  • The Diaper Diaries

    I just think there is a difference in the 2 statements. One is saying that Christian school doesn’t make you MORE Christian. The other is saying that Christian school makes you LESS Christian. I think that is an important distinction.

  • http://profiles.google.com/heathertruett Heather Truett

    You summed up on what I have learned from youth ministry in one sentence:   I’m more afraid of the unquestioning religious child than the seeking non-believer.

  • Anonymous

    Fair enough.

  • http://profiles.google.com/heathertruett Heather Truett

    PS I don’t see this post as judgmental at all. Instead, it is a good reminder to parents that we should be aware of what our choices entail, whether in public, private, or homeschool environments. If I choose to put my children in a Christian school, it is still my job – not the schools’ – to foster their spirituality and expose them to the real world. The problem isn’t always the school, but the rose-colored view of private school education that causes problems.

    My MIL is retired from teaching and running multiple Christian Schools. My husband is a graduate of one. I, on the other hand, went to ghetto-meets-hick public schools.  we both experienced bullying and ostracism. 

    Don’t read EE’s post and feel judged. Instead, feel encouraged to stay informed of what your children are experiencing in whichever school you have chosen.

  • Maggie Dee

    My thought process was pretty simple in regards to sending my kids to public school. 1) Having myself attended both public and private school growing up, I knew that kids are kids.  There are mean kids and bullies everywhere.  I didn’t want my kids to associate all the crap that kids put up with in school with God.  2) I watched overly “sheltered” friends who I grew up with, go all out crazy and stupid when they moved out because they had no clue how to make healthy choices because they were never given the opportunity to while still at home.  I want my kids to learn how have healthy boundaries and respectful discourse before they move out.

  • Christine DeNio

    You said, “And I’ve noticed another trend: parents who were given a public school education want to give their own children the Christian schooling they never had.”  I think that is really true in my case, where my public school enabled a ton of drug procurement and alcohol consumption (not that that doesn’t happen everywhere to some degree).  It is important not to go to the other extreme, as is tempting.  Don’t necessarily count out Catholic school because of expense – many offer financial aid.  In our case, our whole family cleaned an office building what we earned covered tuition.  We hated it, but it got the kids through.  Also, just want to say that I enjoy your blog, and am a convert to Catholicism from the born-again world.  Blessings –

  • Kharrison18

    We attended a church that had a Christian school attached to it.  There was a definite schism between the church school kids and the private school kids.  We attended that church for 6 years – from the time my daughter was 9 until she was 15.  She never felt apart of the youth group.

    At first I thought it was just her and her quiet personality.  Then I attended a business meeting where we were discussing the hiring of a new pastor.  Someone asked “Will the new pastor send his children to the church school?”  A man on the search committee said “Of course he will.  He wants to do the right thing for his children.” Guess where his children went to school?  And how do you think this made the parents who sent their children to public school feel?

    The administrator of the school fostered this atmosphere.  Everything “secular” was evil:  rap music (poor Toby Mac), dancing (uh oh David), non-Christian colleges - to name a few things on the “don’t” list .  Upon entering 7th grade, the students had to sign a contract saying they wouldn’t dance.  It came out that one of the seniors in the school had sex with his girlfriend (in the past).  With 1 month of school left, he was kicked out and his parents given a list of Christian schools that “might” take him.

    Where is the grace in this kind of thinking?  Where is the freedom in Christ?  The whole Christian school mindset turned me off to the extent that I wouldn’t send my children to one if it was free.

  • Kharrison18

    First paragraph should read “schism between the church school kids and the public school kids.”

  • Nancy

    If you are considering Christian schools, I urge you to ask how they handle bullying and other mistreatment.  If they tell you, “that never happens here,” run in the other direction.

    My husband was mercilessly bullied at his Catholic school, and a friend of ours is trying desperately to get help with her son, who is bullied at his Christian school.

    Public schools are required to educate about issues like this, but private schools are not — and too often, abuse is dismissed as “boys will be boys” or “it’s best to let kids work it out on their own.”  Well — maybe not, if the kids are flicking lit matches at a child, or beating him up on a weekly basis.

    So PLEASE — every school is different, but keep in mind there are some things public schools actually do better than Christian schools.

  • Anonymous

    This is a BRILLIANT insight and SO true! In many ways, private Christian schools are beholden to major donors. What if the major donor’s kid is a bully? At a publicly funded school–at least the kids are on a more equal playing field when it comes to issues like this; ie. the school’s annual budget is not dependent on the major donor.

  • http://bunkersdown.com Ami

    I believe it.  The right public school setting can be an awesome place for a child.  It’s all about looking at your children’s needs and the environment you live in and determining what is best for your family.

  • deltaflute

    I think people have said as much, but…I think it really depends on the type of parochial school you put your children in.  And I’m not talking about denomination either, I’m talking about how they approach learning.

    I taught a Catholic parochial elementary school, and I went to public school all my life.  Sure there are some parochial schools that shelter kids, but there are ones who don’t.  And there are public schools that shelter kids too especially in affluent areas.

    As a parent you have to find a balance.  You need your child tested a little to build confidence, but not too much to shatter they’re self-esteem and beliefs. 

    Would I put my kids in a public school?  It really all depends on the type of learning environment they are in.  Is it okay to bring a Bible to school?  Will their teacher respect their moral values even if they are different than the teacher’s?

    Would I put my kids in private school?  That also depends.  Are children allowed to ask honest questioning questions?  Is there room to have legitimate doubt?

    That’s how I would go about looking at any school.
    +

  • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

    Well, my kids are in a Christian school..at home. Oh yea baby, I’m one of THOSE homeschooling mamas! 

    I hope that no school can make someone “less” or “more” Christian. My hope with my kiddos is that they will come to know the Lord and follow Him and love Him with all their heart, mind, and soul. My goal with homeschooling isn’t to sequester them, but rather to fill up their worlds with good and true things (I have little ones, so they are extremely impressionable right now, and generally the kiddos in public school know WAAAAAAAAAAAY more than I want my littles to know right now, not to mention the myriad of bad habits/language. Heck yea I’m sheltering!). Perhaps as they get older they will want to go to public school, and then we’ll ask God what He says for our family, and then walk faithfully as best we can. 

    You know I love you Elizabeth! ;)

  • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

    In response to your tweet about bullies, I’d say yes. Plus you can always bully someone verbally in the name of Jesus (even the teachers at my school did that) and get away with it. 

  • Emily

    I’ve seen this too, but my husband and I aren’t a part of the trend.  We were both educated in public schools K-12.  (I went to state universities; my husband went to a private college that was loosely affiliated with the Methodist church.)  We both feel very strongly about educating our children in public schools.  Many of the reasons we have for wanting public education for our kids are the same as you discussed above.  Interestingly, my husband was bullied at his public school and still wants our kids in public school.  He doesn’t blame his school for the bullying; if he were to blame anyone it would be his parents for not teaching him the basic social skills he would need to deal with bullying.  Even so, in retrospect, he’s glad he had those experiences because they eventually taught him how to deal with difficult people – a basic life skill.  But I agree with you about this trend, although in my case I see more of my Christian friends who went to public school choosing homeschooling rather than Christian schooling. 

    I’m glad to see you addressing this issue!
    -Emily

  • Soccerangel102000

    Although I agree with most of your sentiments, I wonder how you teach your children about the Bible and other aspects of their Faith. I was raised in a Christian school and my husband went to public schools, and the difference of our knowledge about the Bible, Christian history, etc. is huge. We don’t have kids yet, but are already debating between public and private school and this knowledge is a big arguement for private schooling.

  • Anonymous

    Good question! Here’s the short version: we focus on right living and heart relationship. Bible knowledge is great but it is nothing compared to authentic relationship.

  • Bandhens

    This  lines up with what I think quite well.  Our kids go to a school that is under the Catholic umbrella, it is run like a private school, but receives funding from the Catholic School system, and therefore teaches religion.  However, because of the fact that it is not actually a Catholic school, they also offer non-denominational ethics classes instead.  We chose the Ethics class primarily because WE want to be in control of what our kids are learning about God.  While we attend a church that teaches the same as we do, we do not rely on them be the first or only teachers about God, but it is comforting to know that our teachings are being backed up at church.

  • Susanne

    YES! You said exactly what I was thinking. I send my kids to a small private Christian school. They are affordable and the teachers are incredibly dedicated (and are incredibly underpaid!). Both, my husband and I are more involved in my boys’ schooling and the school. The kids all seem to have more of an innocence about them too. (Sorry. It’s true.)  I think age-appropriate sheltering is a good thing which you don’t have at public school. I went to public until I was 11 and I was exposed to way more than my kids have been!

    I was homeschooled from 11yr and up and was told by so many that my kids would learn just as many bad things at the Christian school as the public school. My kids haven’t come home with any bad habits after 3 years. So…? I think some homeschool leaders may be trying to make a profit selling their stuff? ;-)

    I always felt it was the Church’s job to help with education. I love that the Catholic Church does this. Homeschooling is pushed on us Christian moms (with tons of kids) and frankly, I’m way too exhausted to have that burden and there is something to say about teachers. They really do know what they are doing! I wish more Christian Churches would create educational environments for the kids.

  • https://creativecommons.net/prosario2000/identity Pedro M. Rosario Barbosa

    I have to say “Amen” to every single word here. In fact, my experience tells me that a child growing up in a strict Christian environment usually leaves Christianity when confronted with the world outside the Christian niche.

  • Susanne

    That is exactly the kind of school my children attend. It is truly non-denom AND parent run.

  • Sarah

    I can’t for the life of me imagine a problem with a secular worldview of history? You mean one that acknowledges all the injustices and atrocities committed by people in the name of God rather than glossing over them or referring to them as heroes?

    And what about science? I get that you’d hate evolution but chemistry is chemistry and physics is physics. Or is that all down to God too? Does the bible replace textbooks in every class?

  • Sarah

    That’s all well and good until they start questioning whether they should be putting Christ first. It’s one thing for a school to teach kids to question other ideas, quite another to encourage them to question even their own.

  • http://www.faithpermeatinglife.com Jessica @ FaithPermeatingLife

    This is beautifully said. I don’t believe faith becomes true faith until it is a decision made for oneself. And if you’re put in a situation where you are expected not to question the faith of your family, your school, and your social group, then how can you reach the point of wrestling with and coming to peace with faith in God for yourself?

  • http://twitter.com/CaleeL Calee Lee

    Lori-
    I’m bookmarking this just for your comment.  I write children’s books and my next one is about exactly that leap that is required of all of us. Thanks for articulating exactly what I’ve been thinking.

  • SK

    They can learn that in a private Christian school as well as a public school.  The key to whatever educational institution is chosen is PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT.  There are “sheltered” children in all environments-perhaps some better words would be “innocent” or “naive”  (I was one of them in my private Christian middle school AND my public high school-and I did not go all out crazy stupid at home or when I left home-because MY PARENTS were my parents NOT my friends.) Kids who attend small private schools WITH proper parental involvement at home & school learn how to deal with relationships early on since in a small private school setting the option to switch classrooms due to personality conflicts is typically not an option.

  • SK

    Maybe not judgmental but your title is certainly inflammatory and full of assumptions.  It would be like me making a statement that public schools are totally void of God because of  my experiences in public school. I would most certainly be called a hypocrite and judgmental for saying something like that. Yet, this is what you are basing your opinions on-your experiences.

    Just because a person has a blog & has the right to share an opinion, doesn’t mean they have to on every topic that pops into their heads. With the advent of social media, many of us (myself included at times) have forgotten how to filter what we say and feel like we can say whatever we want because it’s my page/blog/tweet/etc…and we tend to just throw our every thought out there.I try to remember the word picture of the tooth paste tube…once you have squeezed the paste out of the tube you cannot put it back in…the same can be said of our words, once they are out there we cannot take them back.  They have been put out there.  I try to very careful what words I put out there. (though I don’t do it as well as I’d like to all the time)

  • SK

    Our son spent 13 years in Christian school and he has been encouraged to hash out his faith to make it his own.  He has watched God work in our lives, the lives of his friends & that of the faculty at his school.  He has watched us all walk through some very hard things, questioning God along the way.  In fact, his high school Bible teacher encourages them to think for themselves, read what people say, think about it AND seek out what God has to say about it in HIS Word-that’s where they are encouraged to land.  Please don’t assume that ALL Christian schools, families, churches or social groups expect regurgitation of faith. I want my son’s faith to be his own…and it has been from the start.

  • SK

    Please read my comment above ^ in reply to Jessica@FaithPermeatingLife and further up in reply to MaggieDee, not all  christian schools OR christian kids make that decision.

  • SK

    My advice would be to interview the school you are planning to send your child to-public or private. AND no matter where you chose to send your child BE involved-ALOT! My experiences tell me that you can be much more involved in the private school setting, it is all but required at my son’s private school because we are a “parent-run” Christian school that is supported spiritually (and a bit financially) by 5 separate local churches of different denominations. 
    And while I do agree with part of EE’s statement below “Bible knowledge is great but it is nothing compared to authentic relationship.”  Absolutely authentic relationship is very important-part of a relationship is KNOWING the other person.  We do that as Christians by KNOWING what God has to say in His Word…so getting into Scripture-navigating easily through the Bible, understanding what it says, applying it to our life (all of which is part of knowledge & wisdom) is important to the growth of that relationship.
    Best wishes as you discern what will be God’s best for your family.

  • SK

    Please do not let your experience in ONE school turn you off from ALL…I too had a very bad Christian School experience. Yet, our son did attend a Christian school for 13 years & is currently attending a Christian college…the school he attended (& is attending) is very different than the one I went to.

  • SK

    I am very sorry you had that experience…it is really difficult to work through when you have been hurt by Christians. Be careful to not judge all private schools through your experience…that become presumptuous and is not healthy either.  If only I could share my whole story…of my schooling experiences-both public AND private Christian.

  • SK

    I think (and experienced in my son’s school) a Christian worldview taught in every class can be a very good thing… in his school there wasn’t a glossing over of injustices done in the name of God; physics & chemistry were taught in light of God as well-afterall He created them.  The Bible never replaced his textbooks, it was used alongside of them in many classes.  And I am so very grateful that he is learning  how to look at life through God’s eyes. And in the process I am learning that too.

  • Kari

    I once heard a speaker say, “The only best place to send your children to school is the place the Holy Spirit leads you to send your children to school.”

    I think this is the crux of the matter for any Believer – Decisions should be made by prayer and petition alone.

    Personally, I was a very bold, loud-mouthed-about-it anti-homeschooling public school teacher before my daughters were born.  And then I was a very bold, loud-mouthed-about-it anti-homeschooling mom for a couple of years. 

    Then the Lord, in all the ways He does, drew us to consider homeschooling while I was still against it.  It’s the only reason I continue with it sometimes – because I am absolutely certain it is His will for our family.  I think it is far more about my sanctification than it is theirs most days.

    All that to say, we each must stand before the Lord one day and give account for what we have done in our lives…whether we have sought and heeded His counsel.  You’ve done so and it led to public school.  I’ve done so, and we’re homeschooling.  But many parents have done so and that has led them to private Christian or private Catholic schools…and I can see where they may feel accused herein of and/or judged for “hiding” their children in “a sheltered, separated Christian community” when all they are really doing is trying to obey the Lord the best they can and follow His personal and individual call for their lives and the lives of their children…

    That kind of judgment may not have been your intent, but maybe when so many people are saying this is how they feel…maybe it deserves a little more consideration that there is more to their response than that they just disagree with you…

  • SK

    It has nothing to do with economic privilege. It has to do with priority in our finances.  We do not drive new cars, we do not have cable, we do not wear NEW designer clothing, we have pretty minimal cell phone plans, we do not eat steak, or shop high end grocery stores, we have never been to Disney, we don’t have a retirement plan or college fund, we do not work in high-paying jobs (we are blue collar & white collar workers without a college education)…and the list goes on. I believe most of this list would be considered part of “economic privilege,” wouldn’t it?

    My husband has worked tons of over-time, while I have worked part-time and then some.   We have chosen to invest not just at home, we have instead chosen partners in rearing our children through our school choice & our church choice. This is also the choice & situation for most families involved at our sons school. So please do not assume that we are an “economically privileged” family or that others at our school (or other Christian schools) are…yes there are some, but many, many of us are not.

  • SK

    Isn’t it a blessing?

  • Jillrosalie

    I heartily agree!    I’m very pro-public school.   Myself I was public and Christian private school educated, and can totally relate to having had to unlearn so much.   It seemed to me that most of us were either rebellious (everything that went on in a public school went on in my itty bitty little Christian school) or super self-righteous little Pharisees (that would be me).  There wasn’t a lot inbetween.

  • Momma in Progress

    “My goal with homeschooling isn’t to sequester them, but rather to fill up their worlds with good and true things.” 
    Love, love, love! So very true, and I feel the same way (I also homeschool my young children). Maybe they will attend public (or private) school someday, but for now I want to be the one influencing the foundations of their very impressionable young minds.

  • Momma in Progress

    Very nicely said, Kari. I, too, was very much against homeschooling as an option (in fact, said some rather unkind judgmental things about it in the past) and a few weeks before my oldest daughter was due to start K (she was already registered) the idea of homeschooling popped into my head (okay, really more like stabbed me in the gut) and I just could not ignore it. We’ve been at it for just 6 short weeks, but it truly feels like this is what we were meant to do; I just couldn’t see it before. We were led down this path for a reason. Others were led down a different path. I don’t know why, but God does.

  • http://www.faithpermeatinglife.com Jessica @ FaithPermeatingLife

    I did not mean to imply that this was the case for ALL Christian schools. My husband went to Catholic school his entire life, and we both attended a Catholic university, where we were absolutely challenged in our beliefs.

    What I think Elizabeth is talking about is situations when a family sends their child to Christian school in the hopes of continuing the same unquestioning adherence to the faith that they expect at home, and because they fear public schools would provide too much “outside” influence that might cause their children doubts. That is why I said IF you’re getting that at home AND at school, it’s going to be more challenging. And I absolutely know families like that, and I think she’s dead on that they’re doing their children no favors by having that kind of fear.

  • Katy-Anne

    I don’t care what you do or don’t do. By virtue of the fact that you can do what my family and I do and yet somehow still afford private school means you are economically privileged. We also live the way you do with old cars, minimal cell phones, no cable, no house phone, etc. Any private school is expensive and if you can afford it while living like normal people then you are indeed privileged.

  • Margaret

    Although I don’t necessarily disagree with the core of what you’re trying to say, I do think the title is a little inflammatory.  There is, as a general rule, a bit of a problem with painting with a very wiiiiiiiide brush (And yes, homeschoolers and christian school folks are certainly also guilty of that). :)  Christian schools vary.  I’m sure some are just as you describe.  Others not at all.  And there are crappy public schools, and good ones.  And crappy homeschool situations, and good ones.

    My faith survived public highschool just fine.  My psyche took years to heal.  I will be forever grateful that my parents recognized what hell I was going through, and allowed me to do my final year of highschool at home.  I wasn’t wanting to sequester myself and I got my “socialization” quota filled in other ways.  I just couldn’t tolerate the atmosphere there.  (Which reminds me, I am sooooooo glad that I finished highschool before cell-phones iwth cameras became ubiquitous, and longbefore facebook.  That would have been hell times infinity for a misfit like me)Christian school does not make kids less Christian.  Faulty attitudes and bad parenting are damaging to faith.  That can happen in any educational setting (At least some, if not all, of Fred Phelp’s kids and grandkids were and are public schooled, for instance).

    As far as the salt and light thing goes, missionaries generally spend time in preparation and training before going out.  They need to know the language and the worldview and the culture of the people they are seeking to impact, in order to communicate effectively.  That is how I view our homeschooling at this moment.  My children are young, and though they have a professed faith it is a child’s faith and not one that carries mature understanding.  Their job, at these ages, is not mission work.  If there were an excellent, safe, high-academics school available, we would consider it, as we considered the new charter school in our town.  But not under the illusion that we would be sending out mini-missionaries. 

    In the mean time, our children are at home.  And they are not sequestered, nor afraid of those who are different, nor snooty about differences.  Cultural and racial differences are built into their DNA.  We attend a huge church which reflects incredible diversity in those areas and pretty much all other areas of life.  We are, as a family, open to relationships with others of all types.  We do not hide from the fact that opinions differ.  We talk about those differences frankly, and have the children ask and answer questions with their own thoughts and then discuss.  It’s not about where they open their textbooks.  It’s about our parenting.

  • SK

    Please do not assume that because we “can afford it while living like normal people then you are indeed privileged.” You don’t know our whole story…above is just a glimpse.

    My husband & I have gone without, making a decision that raising our son was our most important job and that was where we were to invest our time & money…God led us to send him to private school-so we trusted that God would provide what we needed. And there were many many many months (several years worth) that we weren’t sure how we were going to be able to keep him there, so we prayed, scrapped together more pennies and sometimes ate only pasta. We were not too proud to ask for help from the school when we needed it either. 

    “If there’s a will there’s a way”…and this was God’s will for our son. AND the faith that has grown within him is incredible as we ALL walked this journey together.  

    So please do not assume that choosing Christian education means you are privileged…most families that sacrifice would be deeply hurt by that comment. 

  • SK

    While I understand that you did not intend to imply ALL christian schools are this way and I’m going to guess that is not EE’s intent either…her title is very inflammatory in nature. If I were to make a statement that public schools are totally void of God because of  my experiences in public school.  While it may be “my opinion” it will come across as very inflammatory as well and more likely than not be called judgmental and a hypocrite, even if my intention was NOT to imply that ALL public schools were that way. It wouldn’t change how my words were interpreted…and God is very clear that I am responsible for EVERY word that comes out of my mouth (or fingertips).  I ask that you please chose your words carefully, when agreeing or disagreeing. Life is about so much more than “me” and “my” opinion…

  • allison

    First of all – I’ve read your blog a few times and found it fascinating, but never commented before. Hi! I felt like this time I actually had something to add.  (looooong comment ahead, be warned)

    I went to 12 years of private Catholic school (non-parochial, but run by sisters); 8 years at a very small coed grade school and 4 years of all-girls’ high school.  First off, I have always been glad that I did.  But it was a mixed bag.

    My schools definitely felt “safer” than the public schools in the physical sense and in the sense that there was total order, everyone marching everywhere in straight lines, no fighting, etc.  I was still emotionally bullied – a lot – pretty much every day of grade school, and not much was done about it.  But my high school felt very safe and secure and I was grateful for that.  I also loved wearing a uniform.

    On the other hand, where I grew up, Catholic and private school teachers weren’t required to have any kind of certification and most of my teachers didn’t.  Most of the sisters who taught me in grade school were excellent, but a lot of the lay teachers were fresh out of college with no teaching experience.  Also, because of the small size of my schools, we had fewer activities (no band, no choir, drama only every now and then, little art), fewer AP classes (three were available to me; any public school in the district would have offered many more), and practically no lab science.  Luckily I wanted to be an English major because I was pretty unprepared for college level science.  This can be what happens when a school that doesn’t get a lot of state funding also has “affordable” tuition.  It translates into just plain fewer resources.

    Theologically speaking though, I had excellent religious instruction.  The exposure to women religious – many of whom were warm and nurturing and far from the stereotypical portrayal of nuns whacking people with rulers – instilled in me a great respect for people who are called to that life (we did have a few of the whacking-people-with-rulers type as well).  I was well prepared and educated to receive the sacraments.  I’ve actually had, now that I’m attending an Episcopal church (not because anything about my schooling turned me off on Roman Catholicism, more because I wanted to be able to have a same-gender partner someday and still participate in church life), priests say to me that they think Catholics do a much better job of religious instruction than many other denominations, and I did experience that.

    On the other hand I was also given a lot of hilarious misinformation about, for example, whether homosexuality is contagious and whether you will get pregnant if a boy sees your knees.  Like I said – a mixed bag. :)

    In the end I think rote indoctrination of any kind doesn’t tend to stick, but if a Christian school can manage to educate and open minds fully in a spirit of community and joyful love of God, then those kids are likely to grow in faith.  Otherwise, not so much.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s the lovely thing: if you visit someone’s blog and don’t like what she has to say, you can choose to never, ever return again. It’s just like the real world. You don’t have to befriend or follow someone if you don’t like what she has to say. Now I think I’ll take my own advice, because this blog has become sort of a guilty pleasure for me. I wish you all the best, Elizabeth Esther. Thanks for the entertainment.  

  • SJ

    I feel there is a difference between ‘private school’ and Christian school.  Saying private school would lead one to believe you are indeed
    privileged.
    But…we have been committed to sending our children to Christian school since kindergarten…this is where we have felt the Lord leading us from the very beginning. We do not feel ‘privileged, in fact, like SK above, it has been a constant stuggle. Lots of couponing, lacking the ‘finer’ things (vacation, eating out, cable tv etc) at times we have not been sure how the bills were going to be paid. But because we are convicted and knew we were following the Lord’s will for our children somehow by the grace of God and financial aid we managed.
    I would not have it any other way…having our children educated in  a God centered atmosphere has been the best thing we could have ever done. They have always been in contact with ‘the real world’ thru other activities and I am so thankful that we, as parents, can filter and monitor that exposure so we can provide teaching moments along with the way.  

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the time you’ve spent reading here. If you’re having a dysfunctional relationship with my blog, I totally understand if you need take a break. But when you decide to come, I’ll totally understand that, too! :)

  • Anonymous

    oops. that should read “when you decide to come BACK, I’ll totally understand that, too!” :)

  • SJ

    I have been reading this blog posting with great interest since we are very pro-Christian education for OUR children. I am seeing that your attitude is unwavering as is mine, but I find you a bit argumentative and condescending. Our school, also, encourages involvement. This can be during the school day, after school at sports activities or evening programs when working parents can be involved. It could even mean baking a cake for a teacher’s birthday. I would never go as far as calling it ‘a kind of discrimation’ against working parents. See my post below…we are FAR from economically privileged…PULEEZ!! If you only knew the half of it!!  It is completely a God thing….by his grace our children are there..not our doing. Somehow as we pray thru each month the money is there, not sure how it happens, but we are striving to live His will for us. We a

  • http://musings--aloud.blogspot.com Leah

    Many families have to make all of those sacrifices you’ve mentioned to SURVIVE, not so that they can send their kids to private and/or Christian schools.  No “re-prioritizing of finances” will even make that an option for these families. 

  • SK

    This is why it is extremely important that YOU interview the school and talk to families IN the school past & present to find out how things are handled.  There will be bullying no matter where you send your child…even in homeschool co-ops.  You need to find a school that doesn’t sweep it under the rug (which the public high school I attended did with their drug problem-they “didn’t have one”…oh…okay!) 

  • Anonymous

    My jaw dropped as I read this.  Someone out there is actually writing what my husband and I have voiced on many occasions.  I am tired of the constant arrogance of my homeschooling or Catholic schooling friends.  Not close friends but I’m not sure how I can label them.  I don’t feel an ounce of judgment for your title or your post.  I hear much worse on a regular basis about our choice to send our kids to public school.  Even if the Catholic schools in our area were free we would not send our kids there.  I can not repost everything that struck me but you hit the mail on the head.  I have many families who hold a very tight grip around their kids and their faith.  I am already seeing that years of therapy will be needed down the road for them.  But hey at some point we all need therapy of some kind or another.

    I post here anonymously and am not naming specific families.  I wanted to say I do whatever I can to support and encourage others to see God’s guidance in this very important decision.  I respect their right as parents to choose and I know we are all doing the best we can.

  • Angeline

    I found out early on to avoid conversations about schooling (or any parenting matter) with other mothers.  It was the reason I stopped going to MOPS — the mothers seemed to simply want to obsess about their children and tell each other why their way was best.  These conversations at the core are entirely anecdotal (and reactive to our own personal experiences) and at the core are about insecurities by every participant whether a proponent of Christian school, Catholic school, public school, private school or homeschool.   I love variety — I love choices.  I’m not going to tell you how my children are being educated — because I have no idea why that would matter to anyone else and just saying the method will automatically stereotype me (and my children) in the minds of those educating their children differently.  Being a parent is hard – let us offer each other some grace.

  • Matt Nagel

    I do think the title of your post is very misleading and wholly inaccurate, although there is some truth to the content of your post. My experience is probably somewhat similar to yours in that I attended a private Christian school for many years as well as public school. 

    I think the error is in blaming the institution of the Christian school for insulating kids, turning them into hypocrites, stunting their faith grow because they aren’t in the “real” world etc.  While I’m sure there are examples of Christian schools that are extremely fundamental that would add to this, that’s not true of the whole. There are benefits to Christian education as well as shortfalls, just as there are benefits and shortfalls to public education as well. However, save for some extreme example, Christian schools do not make kids “less Christian” or produce a weaker faith any more than a public school would do the same. 

    What it truly boils down to is not an institutional issue but a parenting one. You are correct that as parents it is our responsibility to teach them about faith both in belief and practice. That is certainly not the job of a school – its job is to educate, and I would argue that it’s not the job of the church. There are parents who send their children to Christian school expecting that school to be the primary way in which they are instructed on matters of faith and character. There are also parents that send their kids to Christian school to insulate them from the “world”. Neither of which is a good reason to send you child to a Christian school. (Although at a young age I do think there is legitimacy to having your children in a Christian environment for their early formative year.). 

    In my experience the healthiest kids going through Christian schools were those whose parents sent them for the right reasons and whose parents ensured that they were not completely shielded from the realities of life. There definitely is a balance and when parents lean into the Christian school to do something that is primarily their job it doesn’t produce healthy results. However, when parents send their kids to Christian school for the right reasons it can be very beneficial to their kids and can help build a strong foundation of faith and character. 

    Christian school is not a perfect institution. Neither is public school and neither is home schooling. (Neither is the church for that matter) There are advantages and drawbacks to each educational institution and I don’t think you can put one above the other and ultimately the responsibility falls back on the parents. 

    Implying that Christian education will create kids who are “less Christian” is wholly irresponsible, just as saying public schools will produce kids who are “less Christian” is. While each might be true in certain instances, neither is true as a whole.

  • Jackie W. – Kansas

    There are 3 viable educational choices. It is up to the parent which is best for their kids. Public
    schools are the new kid on the block. They are only about 150 years
    old. Not sure if this makes one’s logic or one’s data questionable.  People use to
    be born at home, schooled at home & died at home. Now we have
    institutions for all those things. Jesus gave the great commission to
    grown men. Although I am sure a child can witness to others.No educational choice is a guarantee kids will turn out perfect. 

  • jackie w. – Kansas

    Then my question is what denomination was the Christian school ?  Maybe THAT is the heart of the problem. 

  • Jackie W – Kansas

    Maybe
    the title should be How A Christian School Made Me Less Christian.
    Bloggers go on about transparency & this is really anecdotal. God
    commands in Deut. that PARENTS are to train children. So it isn’t
    really the job of the church or the
    government. IF an experience wasn’t up to par then maybe it is the
    lack of training from home. I think EVERY Christian parent homeschools
    to some extent. Some of us do it 24/7 & some less.

  • Steph

    What if the school board member’s son is a bully?  or on the football team?  What if Jonny’s mother has threatened an (unreasonable) lawsuit?  What if the bully is related to the administration?  What if the history teacher’s daughter cheats? 

    Just because money isn’t involved doesn’t mean that favoritism doesn’t come into play at public schools! :)  I teach at a rural public HS in the Midwest, where everyone is related and Friday nights the whole town gathers at the football field.  I have had colleagues ask me to check their child’s grades just one more time.  I know of a possible lawsuit.  I have seen football players’ grades bumped so they can play.

    Basically, it’s quite anecdotal and you really just have to know your local schools.  I would never send my children to the public school where I teach, but I might consider another public school 45 minutes down the road.   Public education is hardly standardized; each school is quite different and the achievement level varies between communities. 

    I agree with you that putting children in Christian school for reasons of sheltering and protecting their faith is not a great idea.  Putting them in Christian school for a better, more rigorous education is.   Each person should choose the education desired for the child and teach him to live out his faith in that environment.

  • https://creativecommons.net/prosario2000/identity Pedro M. Rosario Barbosa

    I didn’t mean to imply that all of them do, however, I’ve seen personally many, many cases they do.  I include here Catholicism where I grew up.

  • sara

    yes–how can someone be more or less Christian?  If they have Christ, they’re Christian, and nothing about our behaviour (fulfilling the law) makes us MORE Christian!

  • sara

    good discussion provoking post.  :)  I was k-12 in an interdenominational Protestant Christian school.  Twenty years on, it’s interesting seeing how my classmates have turned out–and it looks to me like the home is definitely the biggest influence.  No shock.  I had a pretty good experience, really.   I was taught a lot of rock solid theology.  I was sheltered some, yes, but I was glad enough of it.  When my friends who went to public schools noted that the language in their hallways sounded like an R-rated movie, I was glad not to be listening to that on a daily basis.  But the danger of legalism is very real.  Especially since there *have* to be so many rules in a school setting just to get the kids taught.  

    My husband and I now have our kids in the public school and have been extremely pleased.  They have dedicated teachers, and good friends in their classmates.  Our oldest daughter is in a gifted program that is *great* for her–I wish my little Christian school had had something like that for me when I was going through.

  • Ashley

    Wow; you seem to come across as really judgmental in this post.  I’m a teacher at a Christian school, so maybe I’m taking it too personally.  However, I know that at my school, our students go out in the community, work on service projects (as early as kindergarten), go on mission trips, etc.  Our headmaster realizes that we must get beyond the “four walls” of the classroom and SHOW the love/the hope that is in us.   It sounds like your experience with Christian school is quite different from the experience the students are having at the Christian school I teach at.  Please don’t generalize. 

  • Kara

    Interesting. I see your point exactly, but also see the other side of it. I went to a private Christian school for middle and high school. I did not grow up in a religious environment whatsoever, so for me my school was my pathway to God and set up foundation for my faith. However, I can clearly see your point in the other students I went to school with that recieved negative effects of attending a Christian school. So it can go either way. For me, I am extremely grateful that my family decided to send me there for the academics because it is how I found God and it has guided that way I live my life. I have no idea what kind of person I would be today, and honestly, that thought scares me.

  • Vosslers

    Wow! There are TONS of great books out there which do that. I wish I had time to link you, but you are really missing out.

  • TAS

    Not trying to criticize this approach but just had a thought to share.  Right living and loving relationships should be a goal for our children but I think the reason for the right living/heart relationships is an integral part. Bible knowledge without a heart for others is worthless but being taught to love one another without understanding why may not last or be truly genuine.   I think both are inter-related.  Understanding why we should live and love a certain way is necessary.  We need to understand why we should have authentic relationships and love others because without a solid understanding of why then it may not be as authentic or as lasting as we hope.  In my opinion the reason we love others and live in such a way is because Christ first loved us.  And to understand this in a full and authentic way we must intimately get to know who this Christ/God is.  And fortunately God has revealed himself to us through the Bible (and the holy spirit… )

    Of course this goal can be accomplished whether you go to public, private or homeschool.

  • Cmoore523

    Alise, what you said about smaller classes struck a chord with me. My daughter attends a small parochial school, and one question I had for the teachers was, “what happens if/when one child get ostracized by even one or two of this very small class?” One teacher replied that it was her job to monitor that kind of activity, and I do believe the teachers do this, but of course they can’t be there for every playground exchange, etc.

  • Kat

    Thank you for this.  As a Christian who is one very much in spite of my years in a Christian school, I couldn’t agree more.  My issues with my Christian school were more of the hypocrisy sort:  no one lived as though Christ made a difference in their lives until “Spiritual Emphasis Week” we we’d get a literal hellfire and brimstone lecture and altar call.  I switched to a secular school in high school (thank you for letting me, parents!) and managed not to go to hell  or drink, or do drugs, or anything else and believe me, my sister found plenty of alcohol and boyfriends to have sex with staying at the “Christian” school.  The current climate of parents trying to police the world into never exposing their kid to anything so they never have to have an honest conversation (and, I don’t know, parent?!?) really bums me out and I thank you for your well-made and very Biblically-supported points about maturing one’s faith by–and living out a pretty clear command–by actually interacting with the rest of the world.

  • Anonymous

    As a fellow Christian mother who cares deeply about her children’s faith lives and education, the arguing, defensiveness, name-calling and my-way-is-the-only-way lines of thinking in this comment section is very sad to read.

  • Anonymous

    Or “are” very hard to read if you’re a stickler for grammar like I am. :)

  • http://imghanaadopt.blogspot.com Mama D’s Dozen

    YES!  Love it!!!

    I am a homeschooling Mama of a DOZEN children.  I’ve been homeschooling for 20+ years.

    My husband has been a teacher for 20+ years, teaching in both public schools and private Christian schools.  We never desired for our children to attend any of the schools that he taught at.  NOT because “the public schools are evil”, but rather because we wanted HOME to be the most influential place in their lives.  (Had we wanted to put our children in school, we would have much preferred the public schools over the 3 different Christian schools that he taught at.)

    Now, don’t get me wrong, we did not sequester or isolate our children.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Our children were involved in MORE outside activities than most public school kids because we could incorporate them into our “education”.

    Our kids were not only involved in church activities, and activities with other homeschool children, but they were involved in all of the local sports teams.  And, by Jr. High, they were singing in the public school choir, performing in the school musicals, and playing on the school sports teams.  But … they stayed home for their classes because they could be so much more individualized, AND the family could still be their primary “peer” group.  With our first 6 babies in 6 years, they were definitely “peers” as well as siblings.

    Our goal for homeschooling has always been two-fold …

    #1  Raise up our children to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.  (5 of our 6 young adult children are fully walking out their lives with Christ)

    #2  Train up our children in a way that they will follow their dreams and pursue their passions.  Our children have pursued the university, the military, the ministry, the mission field, and … several of them have been fully fulfilled as full-time nannies (practicing to be mommies).  

    Interesting post (and comments) … I look forward to reading more.

    Laurel  :)

  • Kara Murano

    I’m a reader from rage against the minivan and I just had to comment on how much I love this post! To add to all the great points you’ve already made I also feel that public school gives parents a unique opportunity to interact with people of other faiths/beliefs; its a huge mission field! I for one would like my children to receive a FREE public education while I create a Christ-centered home where we can talk about what they learn at school and choose on their own what they believe. anyway, you’ve got a new reader :) 

  • Jenn

    As someone who has attended a Christian high school, I can say I completely agree.  In all the years I have watched my peers since graduating and in the years since seeing others who have graduated from this particular school, I can tell you that about 75% of folks that left went BONKERS after High school.  You are sheltered and then your hit with the real world and essentially thrown into a culture shock.  I live in vegas, so you can see why this is especially difficult. 

    Now let’s talk about education.  For all the mommies out there who have no education background, get educated.  I have worked as teacher’s assistant in private schools for 6+ years and am now getting my teaching license and work as a sub in public schools.  Many private schools do not require any degree whatsoever for their teachers.  Yes some do, but you may want to check credentials.  A degree does not make a teacher, but someone thinking teaching is an easy job to jump into is completely wrong. 

    Also, now that I’m educated on education and have been watching what my 3rd grade niece does in private school it’s shocking.  She has no clue what a verb is or any other parts of speech and couldn’t write a paragraph to save her life.  She’s a public school’s teacher’s worst nighmare as kinder students learn these things! Private schools are not under the same regulations as public and do not have a set of standards that they are required to teach. 

    Before you get angry or decide to disagree, let me tell you this is not every single private school, but many.  This is not in every single part of the country, but many.  I am speaking on the education in Las Vegas/Henderson NV.    

    Sorry I just wrote a book. 

  • http://www.ourtaiwaneseadoption.blogspot.com/ rachel

    we were so torn on school choice.  we were really open to the possibility of homeschooling, public schooling, or doing the christian school thing.  our kids attended a secular preschool in which the teaching style matched our values – children learning through play.  one of our four children is adopted from Ethiopia.  being she is already being raised in an anglo family, we felt that diversity in school was an important factor in our decision.  the public school did not offer a lot of diversity.  so we settled on a christian school and are choosing to drive 30  min each way so our kids can go there.  now that my son is in christian school, i have found myself to be very thankful for the christian atmosphere.  they do ‘jesus time’ two times a day.  they memorize one bible verse per week.  and they talk a lot about being christ-like.  teasing and bullying are absolutely prohibited.  the school focuses on the positive virtues associated with being christ-like, rather than on legalism.  that was important to us- we did not want our kids attending a fundamentalist christian school. 

    i attended public school after attending parochial school from 4th grade on and the main thing i noticed was how teasing was tolerated in the public schools.  and i was teased incessantly.  people say that values should be taught in the home, absolutely, they should.  but not many christian parents that i know who send their kids to public school are having them memorize scripture or doing twice daily devotions in their down time.  it’s hard.  if you do, kudos to you!

    i think this choice is very personal and there is no one right answer.  frankly, your post was divisive and lacked a lot of grace.  but i guess that brings in more blog traffic…  glad you feel confident in your school choice decision.

    blessings!

  • http://www.facebook.com/caveat.bettor Caveat Bettor

    I think christian schools are built upon fear.  Nice post.

  • Bernadette

    Interesting blog, I found it as I was googling looking to see what other parents feel about Christian schools. I have a 13 year old in tears as we search for how we handle the bullying, arrogance and vitriolic behaviour that occurs everyday at school. Not from the children but from the teachers. Sadly we have found that Christian does not mean loving, reasoned or enlightened. We have to now decided do we remain and brave it out or enrol in our local government school? A tough lesson about the realities of hypocracy when you’re only 13.