Thursday, December 11, 2008

The school crisis!

My wife and I still go back and forth on the issue of whether we should send our kids to public or private school. When they were babies we always thought that we would send them to only a private school, preferably a Christian School. My daughter is going to be 5 years in next June and we are currently in the mode of researching various schools. At some point, economically thinking, I thought public school would be fine. Our school district isn’t bad as well. Then as I thought more about it, I kind of backed off a bit; because I didn’t want my kids to be taught that we are evolved from Monkeys!

Anyways long story short, yesterday I took some time to research some Christian schools near by. One of my search criterion was a school without a denomination affiliation. It boiled down to just one school finally which is about 6 miles away from home. I was excited about everything I read in their website and we were going to see if we can pay a visit to see the facility and meet the staff.

To my surprise, my wife, as she read further on their website today, found out the below requirement:

[Name of the school] exists as an aid to Christian parents in their God-given responsibility of training their children in the way of the Lord. To this end, the school requires that parents be confessing Christians to assure consistent mutual goals between family and school. Parents and students will be required to sign a parent-student agreement that indicates agreement with the doctrinal statement and promises to maintain a Christian lifestyle in the home. In addition, a recommendation form from the family’s pastor is also required.

The parents must support the policies of the school. This is most important in teaching the Biblical principles the school is founded upon, but also in the area of discipline, schoolwork, and parent/teacher support.


Ouch!

I am faced with a huge challenge now: I have no family pastor and I don't know how to make one!

I am not a member of any church organization.
I have no family pastor.
I am not a church-goer.
I am not religious.
I don't tithe.
I don't do 'ministry'.
I am not part of a 'small group'.
I don't follow a set of 'laws'.

But,

Jesus loves me.
He gave His life for me.
I have the Spirit of God living in me.
I am a child of the Most High.
I am a citizen of heaven.
I am righteous and holy in Christ.
I have eternal life.
I am fully forgiven.
I am placed in the Body of Christ (Church) by Him.
I am clothed with Christ.
Jesus is my Shepperd, Bridegroom and Friend.
I am complete in Him.
And, I can't prove any of these!

Can I still be considered as a Christian? Would they accept me as a Christian? Who can give me a certificate of recommendation?

22 comments:

Matthew Daelon said...

Sounds a little ridiculous to me. I love the last list you gave. :)

"His praise is not from man, but from God".

I think they are sincere in their efforts to live as Christians pleasing to God, but definitely not the correct thing to do...

RJW said...

You are probably going to get a wide range of answers so here's our take on the issue: Our children attend public schools. From a very early age, we have taught our children that Christianity isn't a label that we wear that sets us apart; Christianity is our choice to have a vital relationship with God through Jesus. And because He is our life we simply live what we believe before the world. Our life is our witness. We have, hopefully, taught our children to respect others' choices even if we disagree with them.

Private schools are, by their very nature, about separation for one reason or another, be it race, religion, or money. If you find a non-legalistic Christian school; I'd be surprised. They obviously think they're "doing" something different and better, so "doing" is a big deal to them. I think you would get extremely frustrated with the religious mindset!

We have taught our children that school is about more than giving the "correct" answers on tests; school is about sharing the Christ in you with others. It's about being a vehicle for the Christ in you. Not doing, but being. Just living with Jesus, day to day. How can we be salt and light if we cloister ourselves away from anyone who is different? The world isn't a "bad" place; it's a dead place and we are the Life that people need to see.

So your children get exposed to the "real" world; they might be better for it. We live in a REAL world, where people curse and wear outrageous clothes and express theirselves in many different ways. God loves all of those people. He wants to love them through us in a very real way.

~ Concerning what is taught: Teach your kids to give the "correct" answer; that doesn't mean they have to believe it as fact. We have a Junior in college and a Sophomore in high school and a 7th grader. I don't remember them studying anything that I thought would steal their faith or shake their belief.

I think we forget that our children will grow up and have to live and work and interact in a world that doesn't agree with everything we believe. Segregating ourselves from "the world" doesn't really seem to acknowledge that we see others as reconciled. Some Christians won't do anything they see as worldly...can't drink, can't chew, can't run with those who do...then who is going to love the hell out of them if not us?

I think this might be a controversial issue and I know many Christians choose private schools or to home school; this is just our opinion, nothing more.

I will add: I worked in the public school system. I think they're still the best thing out there filled with many fine educators who deserve more credit than they're given. Wherever you send your children: get to know the teachers and staff. Volunteer at your child's school; get involved; make a difference!

The number one problem I had with kids was: they all wanted to hug you and talk to you. There is a world of hurting children out there waiting for someone to simply accept them and love them, not judge and condemn them.

Once again, Bino, this is a very personal issue and you & Smita have to base your decisions on your feelings and convictions. I don't think we're talking absolutes, just opinions. I hope I haven't given any offense by being up-front with you. :)

Amy said...

Bino,
Okay...I am going to be fully honest in my thoughts and comment here. Now I fully understand that this decision is a huge one (although I do not yet have children). I actually was a teacher IN a Christian school. I'm not sure if you read my past comments, but I earned my teaching certificate and years ago taught. I was a 4th grade teacher in a private Christian school here in Phoenix.

Sigh...what RJW was very, very true about Private Christian schools. Although many ARE most certainly good, by their very nature, their label, and being an institution, if your children attend them, they will be inundated with the Religious mindset. The website may say a lot of great things (except for the requirement you mentioned here in your post), and even the in-person tour may seem to go well. However, unfortunately, I believe the majority of cases for Christian schools are that they function VERY much the same as institional traditional Religious-based Christian congregations of today.

If and when I have children (hopefully it is when!!) I personally would love to homeschool my kids, but am also open to allowing my children attend a good public school.

Again, Bino, I know you and your wife must make the decision, and I know that whatever you both choose, just know that I will totally support you both and walk with you as your children grow. I would have done this regardless of even knowing what type of school your kids were attending anyway!!

Best wishes on decision-making. I can imagine you both have much to think about, so my heart and prayers will be with you. The fact that you are being so thoughtful and careful about this decision is all the more evidence....of which I already knew...of how awesome your heart is, Bino, and how I know you are a good father.

Blessings,
~Amy :)
http://amyiswalkinginthespirit.blogspot.com

Bino M. said...

Matthew - You will find the same kind of 'requirements' in almost all Christian School forms. I think it's silly. The fact is that it's impossible to verify whether a person is a faithful Christian or not regardless of their pastor's recommendation or being a member of a church.

Bino M. said...

Jamie -

WOW!

You are bold, honest, thoughtful and empathetic towards the confusion in our hearts! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! It means a lot to us.

I have been playing 'tennis' for many months about many things you put into words here. I kind of knew that I probably wouldn't find a non-legalistic school but I had this illusion that non-denominational may serve my purpose.

Private schools are, by their very nature, about separation for one reason or another, be it race, religion, or money.

Your observation is profound here.

Some of my insecurities about the public schools were due to the fact that children are not matured and can be easily influenced by peers. I have heard stories after stories. Another attraction fact towards the private schools was the various programs such as music etc.

But the other side is, like you said, developing a religious mind-set early in the age would be hard to break later on. It can take 2 years to knock out 1 year worth of legalistic teaching and it isn't worth.

Again, you provoked a lot of thoughts in me and I am going to continue to seek, pray and think on this.

I hope I haven't given any offense by being up-front with you/

You wouldn't be able to offend me, even if you try. :)

Adam said...

Having had some experience of 4 kids in public as well as "christian" schools and finally some homeschooling my personal recommendation is to homeschool if you are able.

Remember that if you show your kids how to learn you don't have to follow any curriculum and you don't require expertise in any subject.

Putting children in with their peers creates a dynamic that is difficult to counteract and the agendas that are what is really being taught are often very subtle and insidious.

Yes, we live in the (fallen) world and we need to show our children how to cope with it and not to be part of it. But there are other ways to do this than to put them into the UN-real world that is school.

b.t.w. You do have a "pastor"!

It is clear that Jesus is your shepherd!

Leonard said...

We've gotta pretty good school system up here in Traverse city.............

Well,,,,,,,,, it's just a thought....

Leonard

Bino M. said...

Amy - Your opinion, as a person come with experience in teaching in a Christian School, is very valuable and I hear you.
I hate any kind of legalism but at the same time I struggle to find a fine line between discipline and legalism when it comes to kids. This is a gray area. I believe there has to have discipline but the difference is what motivates us to discipline them and the way we choose to do it.

The foolishness taught in Science classes that everything came into existence through an accident and creatures are evolved is ridiculous. Any person with a right mind and a little bit common sense can look around and see the things and come to a conclusion that there has to be a creator out there. It is one reason that I backed off from the public school as a way of 'protest' (if you will) . But again, I think it is my own insecurity and lack of trust in God to guide my kids into all truth.

No, I don't want my kids to be religious, self-righteous or legalists. I want them to know Jesus loves them. And it's my heart's desire to teach them to extend the love we receive from Jesus to others regardless of race, religion or social status.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your prayers, love and consideration.

Blessings,
Bino.

Bino M. said...

Adam - Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Homeschooling is a good idea and I know many parents who successfully does it. But on the contrary, many parents do it as a way of 'overprotecting' their kids. I am not saying everybody does it for that reason. Many parents want to spend more time with their kids and homeschooling works out great for them. Kids also has to be given opportunities to socialize and mingle as well due to the fact that the dynamics of relationships is a great opportunity to learn as well. But, again it's a personal preference.

b.t.w. You do have a "pastor"!
It is clear that Jesus is your shepherd!


How hard is it to get a recommendation letter from Jesus? :) Even if I can obtain one, the school wouldn't probably accept it as 'genuine'. It's interesting that they think a pastor's recommendation and a church affiliation makes them to believe that we are truly Christians. It's silly! Only God know who are all His kids...

Bino M. said...

Leonard - We have enough snow here and are pretty happy with it! :) Thank you for the invitation though...

Walking Church said...

Send you kids to Canada on a school bus.

Christian schools - not my cup of tea.

Public schools are more reflective of the real world and your kids will integrate better (my thoughts).

I have faced the same bull as you have...I have theological training and if I attempted to get a professional Christian job I would have to have the mark of Cain (a denomination) on me.

I am living outside the law - and my Abba is more than able to provide.

jul said...

Hi Bino. We have our two oldest in public school right now. They are doing great. We are blessed to have a small, very small, little country school that is among the top in all of Canada.

But I essentially agree with what most have said about Christian schools. I would prefer teaching my children to discern truth from lies in the world than put them in a legalistic environment. I grew up going back and forth between public and christian schools and I've never heard of a christian school that wasn't founded on leglistic principles (merit systems and such)with tons of silly rules and tegulations. I think it would be much harder for a yound child to filter out legalism than evolution.

My daughter is only 7 and I've already talked to her about evolution, among many other common ideas they'll hear about in the world (such as all alternative lifestyles etc...) and her first reaction is usually astounded amazement that people believe such nonsense. However, I don't want her to react that way to others, I want her to learn to love and respect people no matter what they believe. But you can see that a child being brought up knowing Jesus has more than enough common sense and discernment to see things for what they are.

And, I like to remind some of the more fear-driven homeschooling crowd, we as parents are NOT the Holy Spirit for our children. We teach and train and love them, but He is their teacher and is with them at all times and is utterly trustworthy. We can relax and be sure God loves our kids more than we do and he is a faithful, good, and perfect father.

I don't mean to say christian schooling or homeschooling is never a good option, I'm basically just explaining what our family feels called to at the moment (which could change). I hope our family will be a light in the world, including our children in their schools.

God will give you wisdom and peace in all this. And no matter what you decide, he will bless you because of Jesus!

Bino M. said...

WC - Thank you!
I am living outside the law - and my Abba is more than able to provide. Amen!

Jul - Thank you for sharing your thoughts! As I read through it, I was able to resonate. Instead of teaching them all the right things, I think it's important to show them the Right One. They can pretty much take up from there. Religious institutions usually miss this important aspect as they are so busy making 'robots' who act right, talk right and walk around with a placard of self-righteousness. It's ugly!

In our search we were unable to find a Christian school who teaches God's grace, our identity in Him, the unconditional love of Christ Jesus etc. I was telling my wife, why don't we start one! She has a passion for teaching kids. Let's see what God is planning through us...

I think it would be much harder for a young child to filter out legalism than evolution.

You are absolutely right!

All these are making a lot of clarity in my thinking about the issue of Public Vs. Christian school.

Again, thank you for sharing! I greatly value the perspectives you shared.

Socoteanu said...

Hey Bino,

My wife and I struggled with this for some time. My daughter just started Kindergarten and she is in a Christian School now. We went back and forth often and ultimately decided that we would to private school since we will be moving at years end. After we move our children will be in public school.

What I have come to realize is that there is not a correct answer. It is about what God reveals to you. It is true that you will not find a perfect christian school (nor a perfect public school for that matter). But I think that a better question is what are the motives?? Hopefully, you can get a clear picture from talking to people if the motives for these statements is sincere desire for Christ or out of other reasons.

I would encourage you at least to meet with those at the school and see where they are coming from. You may not agree with them on all things....and that's ok. But, where is their heart? Are they seeking Christ? Are they desiring Christ in your children? Who knows, you may find alot of Grace...or you may get to show alot of Grace by loving them even though they are legalistic.

I'm not saying Christian school is the right way...but I would not rule it out based on what you have read.

Bino M. said...

Socoteanu,

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I agree with you that this decision (Public Vs. Christian school) is not a cookie-cutter one. Regardless of the 'general' mission of a any school, the influence on kids come from the teachers they interact with and their peers. Your views on this I think are balanced and it's always great to check out the personal interests beyond the general principle of any school.

I had always struggled with the idea of freedom when it comes to kids. It's hard to prepare a 'freedom Curriculum' for a a kid in advance because first of all each kids are different and then it's better to deal with each scenarios in life instead of giving them 'lessons' about everything. Again, it depends on the age, development, grasping power etc of each child.

My wife have read (and still reads) a number of books on kids, their education, raising etc. But I don't know how much it can help. To me, a better approach is to trust God to guide us in each situations and I am taking that approach in this decision making process also. I know for sure, no matter how we decide, He is going to cause it for good.

Again, Thank you for sharing, I greatly appreciate it!

Ruth said...

HI ,
I just wanted to add my thought to you. I have three kids, one is 18, one is 16, one is 13.
I am almost hesitant to mention that they all went to various 'christian' school(s) because I feel that it is regarded by many commentators here that that is a 'religious' thing to do, and to be avoided at all cost. Sigh...
I know first hand many sides of the whole story. I know the years of conversations, the relationships that have been difficult, the relationships that have been absolutely wonderful for us & kids. WE have met so many wonderful "Christians" and our kids too - and we have met many pharisees I can assure you that is not easy, but Christ is in all of that. My kids went for five years to a christian elementary , then they have all went to a christian high school, and my eldest is now in a 'christian' university.
It is very possible to raise your children in ANY environment as non religious and of giving their lives to Christ alone. We are light because He is light. Because God is faithful. If your kids are free of religion, and you raise them that way, even in that environment, they will certainly be able to maintain that freedom because of Christ. They will testify of Christ in that environment which is just as important as any :)
The most important thing I pray & trust you will do what Father has for you & yours. He is an awesome Father :)) God Bless you & your family :))

lionwoman said...

Bino, as a homeschool mom of 10 years, I am tiresomely familiar with this mentality. Many academic, food, and other homeschool family co-ops require the same thing - a certified pedigree from the pastor. Undeservings guarding the door, making sure that other undeservings don't get in.

It's a 'bonus' set of issues that we as freebelieving parents deal with. ugh.

Another friend had forwarded me a list of criteria taken from a private Christian school that really gave her pause... I can forward it to you if you want...

For what it's worth, I've talked to quite a few people who insist their kids are doing fine in public school... there is more than one way... nay Father guide you in the best choice for your family.

lionwoman said...

Bino, as a homeschool mom of 10 years, I am tiresomely familiar with this mentality. Many academic, food, and other homeschool family co-ops require the same thing - a certified pedigree from the pastor. Undeservings guarding the door, making sure that other undeservings don't get in.

It's a 'bonus' set of issues that we as freebelieving parents deal with. ugh.

Another friend had forwarded me a list of criteria taken from a private Christian school that really gave her pause... I can forward it to you if you want...

For what it's worth, I've talked to quite a few people who insist their kids are doing fine in public school... there is more than one way... nay Father guide you in the best choice for your family.

Jules said...

My thoughts.... probably a bit off the radar!

I've raised 3 kids single handedly in poverty living in a bad area. My kids go to regular school. It's 75% Muslim and patrolled by police.

I don't go to church much I was never accepted or included as a poor single parent.

My eldest is born again and the strongest christian I know (apart from me!!) She was bullied in school, and didn't do well academically. She excelled though in her desire to know God more and draw nearer to him. Now shes at Uni at 25 doing a degree in nursing.
Next one down - my son,16 no father and a chaotic upbringing due to some pretty awful things the church did to us. He just got 11 A's in his GCSE's and is hoping to go to Oxford when hes 18. More importantly his faith is everything to him. Next one down aged 12 rough city school. No church but loves God with all her heart.

It doesn't really matter where they go to school. A christian school is not a good idea I don't think. So many of the kids i know who went to a christian school are very messed up and do not have a real heart faith.

It's what parents 'live' that counts, not what we say, where we send our kids to school, or whether we live in a 'good' area. Gods ways are not our ways.....

Just my thoughts

God bless

Jules

Bino M. said...

Ruth - Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I greatly appreciate it. I am glad you brought up things from a different perspective, which I think is very valuable in this decision making process.
Again, Thank you!

Amy - Thank you for your thoughts and prayers in this matter!

Jules - Incredible story of yours.

It's what parents 'live' that counts, not what we say, where we send our kids to school, or whether we live in a 'good' area. Gods ways are not our ways.....

Absolutely! Thank you for sharing!

lydia joy said...

Bino,
I had the same problem recently when I tried to join a Healing Room, they wanted my pastor's consent in writing.......oh well!!

This has been an interesting conversation, with lots of great thoughts! I am open minded about whatever education parents may choose for their kids. For us, my husband went to public and me to private and we both had horrible times, but not because of the school necessarily, but because we didn't know who we were! We didn't have confidence nor did we have parents who helped us sense the love of God and acceptance because of His grace. That said, if you are showing them the love of Christ and His acceptance of them, they will do well! Which I am sure you are!!
(I would also have to say you will find legalism more than likely in any Christian school. )
Anyway, we choose to homeschool for now, our current reasons are because we want to be with our kids, they want to be with us, and we want to cater their learning to their unique personalities. I think one thing to consider, and I know your kids are young yet, is the child's individual needs based on who they are and their specific giftings. I say this because most schools are geared toward linguistic, and mathmatical learners, although I must confess I think they are getting better. My husband and I were not well fit in that environment, he is a musician and I am a thinker - neither of us had it easy in school, and for me much of my learning came from living my life and my own personal interests and a lot of learning came the hard way too. My point is that each child is so unique and schools cannot cater to individuals. Just an additional thought to maybe consider down the road. There are so many options for education anymore, so many! I pray that you and your wife would be led by the Spirit and sense his peace as you make your decision.

Bino M. said...

Thanks Lydia for sharing your thoughts! It helps!