The Immediate Danger
There is much to bemoan about Twitter as a social media platform. There is much to bewail about social media, which task your dutiful servant has performed in this space. Nevertheless, there are some benefits. One of them is that one can discover information there that one might not see elsewhere. One thing I have learned in recent years is how dangerous your local public school is. I am not thinking about school shooters (although that danger remains), or about bullies roaming the halls (although that is a real problem), but about staff, teachers, and administrators who prey upon students. I am not alleging that every staff member, teacher, and administrator is a sexual predator but I am saying that the evidence is clear that there are a shocking number of sexual predators in the ranks of the public schools and little is being done about it. I learned this because I stumbled across a Twitter feed called, Leave Public School. It is a remarkably useful feed. The administrator harvests and publishes news reports about public school staff, teachers, and administrators who have been arrested, charged, and/or convicted of assaulting school children. Here is just a sample:
- Hempfield teacher charged and resigned after alleged inappropriate messages with student
- Former Indiana teacher, basketball coach charged with child seduction, possession of child pornography
- Highland Teacher Arrested for Sexual Exploitation
- CNY school bus driver charged with DWI while driving bus carrying students, troopers say
- Wabash MSD teacher charged with child seduction, possession of child pornography
- Desert Oasis coach arrested on attempted sexual misconduct charge, CCSD police say
- Whitfield County high school teacher charged with child molestation
This list would be disturbing had it been compiled over the last two years but it was not. This list is from the last two days: January 20 and 21, 2022. This is an urban phenomenon and a suburban phenomenon. It happens in big city schools and in “safe” small towns. It is widespread.
Were seven stockbrokers charged in the same time period with these crimes, the headlines would be in 44 points. There is local media coverage of these stories but relatively little national coverage. Why is that? The teacher’s unions are very powerful politically and the national media is ideologically committed to the public school regime. They do not report these trends because it would damage a favored cause.
These stories may not interest the national media but they should interest you. It could be your child, your grandchild, or your nephew or niece being harmed and it is not going to stop any time soon. The system is thoroughly broken at every level and in every county in the USA.
Why do I highlight these stories? I do so, in part, because article 14 of the church order in my denomination, the United Reformed Churches in North America, says, in part, that one of the duties of an elder is to “promote God-centered schooling.” By calling attention to what is happening in public schools across the USA I am hoping to alert Christian parents to the necessity of being prayerful, thoughtful, and deliberate about the educational choices they make for their children.
Everyone Has A Grid
A second reason I highlight these issues is to help Christians see that the way one (e.g., an educator) looks at the world matters. The rise in child sexual assault and other crimes against children in public schools is not random. It is the product of a way of looking at the world. Everyone has a way of viewing the world. That way of looking at the world is a matrix, a grid, a lens that is composed of beliefs about the nature of things, about humanity, God, truth, reality, and morality. The public schools might once have been a largely a conserving institution in society but it is that no longer. Those who run the teachers colleges, which train future teachers and administrators, and those who run the school systems mostly see the school system as an engine of social and even spiritual change. That change does not include helping children to see the world and themselves as God would have them see it.
The state of education was predicted decades ago by thoughtful observers (e.g., Jacques Barzun, 1907–2012 and Mortimer Adler, 1902–2001). Now that parents have had an opportunity, via Zoom, to see what teachers are telling their children for seven hours every day, they are rightly alarmed. Instead of critical thought, schools teach critical theory. Instead of math, students get madness. Could it be that the schools did not get rid of religion in 1962 (Engel v. Vitale) but instead simply changed religions? In this regard, there is an important distinction to be made between secular and secularism. The latter is a pagan religion. In America we certainly want our public institutions to be secular. We do not want an established church or religion. I do not want to pay taxes to see children catechized into Islam, Judaism, Romanism, or into neo-Paganism. One of the several bold experiments that make up this country is that we can carve out a secular space where people of different religions can live together peacefully.
Whether education can be truly secular is in question. I do not think that one need be a Christian to teach children to read or write or to do math. After all, much of classical education was (and is) composed of the use of grammar, logic, and rhetoric texts written by pagans. Whatever anyone says, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, and Euclid were neither Jews nor Christians. They were pagans and yet their contribution to education is indubitable. On the other the other hand, as I have argued here many times, in response to the rising tide of secularism, advocates of Christian education have weakened their case by making exaggerated, unsupportable claims about what Christian education is and what it can do.
Nevertheless, what we are seeing in American public education is an anti-liberal (in the true sense of the word liberal, i.e., tolerant), fanatical regime. That sexual predators are apparently routinely hired by public school administrators tells us something very important about how they see children and the world. If nothing else, it tells us that they do not share a Christian view of the world. They do not see children as made in God’s image. They do not see themselves as holding a kind office, a sacred trust even, to act as guardians in place of parents (in loco parentis). Too often they seem to see themselves as competitors.
Some Objections Answered
Yes there are Christians working in the public school system and even noble pagans, classical liberals, who still believe in education as it used to be understood. Those Christians working in the system are working behind enemy lines, however. We should pray for them but the existence of Christians and noble pagans in the system is hardly warrant for sending one’s children into the system. Your children are not missionaries. Parents who send their children into the system for that purpose fundamentally misunderstand what education is and who is influencing whom. Even more fundamentally, they are confused about the distinction between nature and grace. On this see the resources below.
This is not to say that the system may not be used strategically and temporarily. Christians pay taxes and there may be special services that are unavailable at the local charter school, Christian school, or homeschool co-op. We do not ask our grocer his profession of faith before we buy his lettuce or beef. The audiologist or speech therapist and the like are public servants and there is no reason why Christian parents should not avail themselves of such services. It might even be that there are, in a given area, no good alternatives to the local public school and that, in the providence of God, home schooling simply is not an option but parents who send their children into the system should realize that they have not relieved themselves of work. Rather, they have undertaken a very challenging job of discovering daily what their child is being taught, by whom, and how. Who are your child’s friends? Who are their parents? A school is a cooperative enterprise by a community of parents and sending one’s child to school is an act of trust in one’s neighbors. Would you let your children visit your neighbor’s house for 8 hours a day, five days a week, 9 months a year? That is what you are doing when you send your children to public school. It is unavoidably so. What do suppose your children are going to hear from their peers before school, between classes, at lunch, at recess, and after school? They will hear what your neighbors teach their children.
Your local Christian school is not faultless but it is probably not actively seeking to undermine the way you are educating and catechizing your child. Your local public school almost certainly is seeking to undermine what you teach your children. Are there sexual assaults by staff, teachers, and administrators against children in Christian schools? Tragically, yes but children are much safer in a Christian school than in a public school. See the resources below for more on this. Are there theological problems with the local Christian school? Probably. Even the established Reformed Christian schools founded after World War II seem usually to become broadly evangelical over time. It seems very difficult to establish and maintain consistently confessionally Reformed schools in the USA. We are living in Sister Aimee’s country and it shows in the Christian schools. Nevertheless, there is no comparison between the dangers posed to children by a broadly evangelical Christian school and the public school system. There are other alternatives. Some Reformed parents send their children to the local Lutheran parochial school.
Christian parents have a great responsibility and a hard job in this world. It is glorious thing to be given the privilege of nurturing and educating covenant children but it is a challenge. Make no mistake about it: the education of your children is your responsibility. If the staff, teachers, and administrators of your child’s school fail your child, that is your responsibility.
The good news is that the Lord is gracious. He uses crooked sticks to strike straight blows. That is no apology, however, for crooked sticks. Seek wisdom. Become informed. Talk to other concerned Christian parents. Look into homeschooling. Pray for courage and resources. The Lord will help you. The need is great but the Lord is greater.
©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.
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- Yet Another Reason To Leave Public School
- Why You Should Get Your Child Out Of Public School
- More Reasons To Leave The Public School (Or Antiracism Does Not Mean What You Might Think)
- Why It Is Reasonable Not To Send Your Children To Public School
- Religious Freedom in Public School Classrooms
- Do You Know Who Is Influencing Your Classical School?
- Yes, It is In The Schools
- Is There A Sexual Abuse Crisis In Christian Schools?
- Did Public Education Really Introduce Mass Literacy?
- There Is A Christian Worldview
- Resources On Critical Theory, Political Correctness, And Free Speech
- A Note To My Hometown About The Drag Queen Story Hour And The Powers That Be
- Shocker: Milwaukee Judge Of Children’s Court, Who Organized “Drag Queen Story Hour,” Arrested For Child Porn
- How Did We Get To Drag Queen Story Hour?
- Resources On Social Media And Wikipedia
- New Resources Pages On Common Grace And The Sacred/Secular Distinction
- Engel v. Vitale (1962) Forbids Required Prayer In the Public Schools Including Social-Justice Chants To Aztec Gods