June 03, 2005

Been There, Done That

Last year, I wrote about a resolution that was sent before the Southern Baptist Convention that advocated the withdrawl of all children of SBC church members from public schools.

This year, they're doing it again.

The Arnold-Scarbrough Resolution: (a) applauds Christians working in the government schools as missionaries, (b) calls on churches to warn their members of the devastating effects of sending their children to a totally secular institution for their education, (c) calls on churches to become aggressive and pro-active in starting Christian schools and in supporting homeschooling.
I still think it's a bad idea.

Yes, we need to instruct our kids about the truth, and prepare them for an educational system that is often hostile to their beliefs. But no, Christian school is not for everyone, much less homeschooling.

I know many homeschoolers, and they have my utmost respect and admiration. The ones I am familiar with are committed to their kids' education and are willing to do whatever they can to make sure that their kids have the best education possible. I wish all parents had attitudes like that. Unfortunately, not everyone is cut out to homeschool. Not everyone can educate their kids in everything they have to have to function in society.

Christian schools are few and far between. In my area, there is one that I would even consider sending my daughter to -- and their educational standards leave much to be desired. There are great Christian schools out there; unfortunately, there aren't enough, and there aren't enough that are affordable for many people.

The key to making sure that your kids are getting the right education is to be involved. You may have to fight sometimes -- do you seriously believe that you'll only have to do that in public schools? I've got a bridge to sell you if you believe that. If you are committed enough to homeschool, your kid will get a quality education no matter where you send him -- parental involvement is the key.

From the old blog

I am all for Christian schools, and even home schooling -- for the right reasons. If the public schools in your area do a lousy job of preparing your kids for life after graduation, then it's your duty to put your kids somewhere else. But if you are concerned about the moral decay of public schools, think about trying to help solve the problem. If you shelter your kids from what is happening in public schools (and I teach in one -- I know what is happening in them), what is their reaction going to be when they have to function in the real world? Will they be able to deal with people who are ideologically opposed to them, when they have never faced that opposition before?
Back your kids. Give them a firm foundation to stand on. But don't shelter them. They're going to run into it sooner or later -- make sure they're prepared.

Yes, I know that sounds too pragmatic. I'm not a teacher anymore -- unless you count substituting. My wife taught her last class a week ago -- she's out. NOT because of "rampant secular humanism" as some would like to believe, but because of some local issues (and some problems with NCLB, in fact).

There are reasons to withdraw from public education. It's not always the best solution -- gifted kids often are unchallenged,special needs kids often don't get the help they need. The people who are teaching are often NOT the best qualified to teach: how many people with a Masters degree (which is a requirement in Ohio now, after so many years of certification) would work for less than $40,000 a year? There are quality people in education, I know -- I've worked with some awesome teachers. I've also worked with some who were ignorant, often anti-intellectual (how's THAT for an educator!). My point is that the Convention cannot, and should not, make the decision for parents. What the SBC NEEDS to do, is to institute a quality training program for ALL members of ALL churches (anyone remember Training Union? My wife does!) so that we can meet challenges head on, and not scurry back to our Christian ghettos.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 09:26 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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1 I'm a Southern Baptist pastor whose wife is registrar at one of our two local high schools. The athletic director of the other high school, as well as many other public school educators, are active members of our church. We are able to have a positive impact in the public schools, truly "salt and light," because we are involved, not isolated. Our music minister's wife homeschools their children, and does a great job. I'm all for that if people feel it is best for their children. But the idea that all Christians should be called to withdraw from the public schools is a backing off of our evangelistic calling.

Posted by: Bob at June 04, 2005 08:53 PM (XRjNc)

2 Thanks for your comments, pastor! We fought a resolution like this this past year at the Kentucky Convention (there was so little support for it that it died in committee), and I was hoping that we'd get on with more important business at the Convention this summer, but I guess people want to fight the old battles rather than fighting the new ones.

Posted by: Warren at June 04, 2005 10:46 PM (a64K1)

3 I'm also a Southern Baptist pastor. I agree with your take and had hoped we seen the last of such a resolution. I'm glad you brought it up and let people know that all Souther Baptists don't think that way. Thanks!

Posted by: Tommy Ham at June 05, 2005 12:27 AM (LJbki)

4 Now there are TWO Southern Baptist pastors who agree with me. And I always thought it was hard for Southern Baptists to agree on ANYTHING (lol -- just kidding, guys). Wish I was headed to the convention this year, but I have to actually work this summer, or I won't be taking Systematic III with Dr. Moore in the fall (via the Internet, not live, unfortunately).

Posted by: Warren at June 06, 2005 11:28 PM (a64K1)

5 I appreciate the comments about the resolution. But wondering, where does it call for the educators to leave? I believe it is asking Southern Baptist parents to question what their children are being taught and also questioning whether or not children are spiritually prepared to be "salt & light".

Posted by: Suzanne at June 07, 2005 12:23 AM (cYlkM)

6 Thanks for your comment, Suzanne. They aren't asking for educators to leave -- they are questioning the ability of those educators to effect real change by giving up on public education. They are also questioning the church's ability to prepare kids for school, and parent's ability to effect change in schools. I think a much better strategy is to be supportive of parents' decsisions no matter what -- and provide a ministry for kids who are in public education, rather than throwing our hands in the air and saying "we're done with this." I don't even want to think what will happen to public education if "they" don't have to worry about what the Christian parents will say about what they're doing.

Posted by: Warren at June 07, 2005 12:41 PM (a64K1)

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