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The Wagering of a Parent’s Sacred Trust

October 23, 2012

The idea that a parent might wager with their child’s morality is anathema in civilized society. Even parents trapped in believing the Myth of Having it All believe that their children’s morality is one of the most important heritages they hold in sacred trust throughout their childhood. At a minimum, “keeping them out of trouble” is a goal nearly all parents have in mind, and many religious parents have even higher dreams and standards in mind for their children. It is tragic then to realize that a very common decision made by the vast majority of parents very nearly equates to rolling the dice with their children’s futures, particularly their morality.

Public School is a Wheel of Chance for Our Youths’ Moral Purity

Putting aside the tragic deterioration of our public schools’ academic results (which for most parents is nearly as troubling as the moral decay, having now reached the point where 77% of recent high school graduates have no idea who served as the nation’s first president!), ignoring the fact that more teachers are requesting students be medicated with psychoactive drugs during their brains’ formative years than ever before – all to insure their classroom behavior does not create distractions for the teacher or other students… Putting aside the physical risks students now face (requiring schools to use metal detectors and on-campus police increasingly over the last decade), and ignoring for now the Socialist roots and agenda of public education… Ignoring the fact that even our nation’s most conservative states have turned against Creationism, and the fact that the entire social structure of modern schools encourages kids to take their lead from (and make their most important connections with) their peers and not their parents…

Putting aside all these other factors, there is sadly a significant list of other concerns raised by recent research into our public schools:

– 16% of h.s. students admit to being intoxicated/high on campus
– 35% of students admit to criminal theft from a place of business
– 47% say they’ve been bullied “severely” within the last year
– 50% of all students admit to bullying other students
– 64% of students admit cheating on test(s)
– 83% admit to lying to parents about something significant
– 7% of students have received a sexually explicit “sext” picturing a fellow student
– 7% of girls 15-19 have had at least one pregnancy
– 7% of 12-year-old m.s. students have already lost their virginity
– 15% have misused prescription drugs for a high
– 24% of students admit driving drunk or riding with a drunk driver
– 25% of h.s. students engage in “binge” or “blackout” drinking
– 37% of students have smoked marijuana
– 60% of h.s. students consider their campuses “drug infested”
– 62% of students have sex before graduating high school
– 65% have used more than one substance to get drunk/high
– 73% of h.s. students (all of whom are underaged) have drunk alcohol

* Statistics from the Josephson Institute, Advocates for Youth, Child Trends Databank, Fox News

The risks on this list are significant, the list is lengthy and many of the percentages are huge – on risks which are all being run in parallel. Any one of these risks would be enough to impact at least the early moral life of any child, and most likely lead to lifelong emotional damage and/or regret. But does this guarantee that our schools are a gamble? Is it possible to protect children from falling into these various traps by giving them extra training at home in the evenings? …or enrolling them into the Honors program? …or monitoring their friends closely? …or keeping them involved in an extra-curricular activity to minimize their unsupervised free time?

Of course I believe that mitigating factors like these do have an impact. They “change the odds” for the wager being made for the child’s morality. Far more important, though, is the truth that most parents and administrators do not want to admit… These factors can only mitigate the risks; – the student’s morality and future are still being wagered and risked in the public schools of the 21st century, even if all/most of these parental factors are in effect. For there is no parental action possible which will guarantee that their children can attend public school but not be pulled into any of its moral corruption.

”People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” — 2 Timothy 3:2-4

Many parents are not even asking the questions

Some parents are in complete denial about these statistics, choosing instead to believe that public school is mostly like when they attended, with the main changes being cell-phones and facebook. Many believe there’s no real choice to be made. Is it doubt about this view that hits so many parents (mostly mothers) on the first day of school when they’re dropping off their children in Kindergarten or 1st grade? – frequently bringing them to tears just as dramatic as their children’s? Is the reassurance of so many other mothers making the same choice really sufficient to silence the conscience? There may be economic or situational reasons why your family must choose public school for your children, but please don’t let it be because you’re unwilling to consider an alternative to placing your children on society’s conveyor belt to let it take them where it will.

”Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – 1 John 2:15

Other parents are answering the questions in unwise and naive ways

Some parents might accept that they are gambling with real risks, but feel that since the kids have to enter the real world at some point anyway it might as well be in their school years. I believe these parents are missing a critical point about the purpose of parenting – while it is true that our ultimate goal is to get our “baby birds out of the nest”, we are given an entire childhood to prepare them to transition to readiness. For those who feel this will help insure their children are “normal”, I want to make this challenge: If being “normal” requires a child to be tempted to serious moral evil about which they may be sickened with regret for the rest of their lives, is it “normal” or “pure” for which we should be striving?

”It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” — Luke 17:2

Christian parents, whether or not they would put it into these words, sometimes see their decision to send their children to public school as sending a missionary to lost people, hoping they can “reach the lost” or “build confidence interacting with unchurched friends”. It may increase the child’s resolve somewhat to see their school attendance in this light, but putting a young person into a high-risk environment before their personal faith has been sufficiently strengthened still amounts to gambling with their morality. And if they learn to craft a careful image for themselves from the 83% of their peers who admit lying to their parents about “significant” issues, these parents may not realize their child’s morality has been damaged until far too late.

”from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war in Israel.” — Numbers 1:45b

Homeschooling mitigates these risks – and offers so much more besides

Homeschooling is by no means a perfect antidote to these risks; children can be exposed to the sin of the world in their neighborhood or on their little league team. But it is undeniable that homeschooling greatly reduces the risks experienced by 21st century public school students because it maintains parental involvement and parameters far better than any school can hope to maintain those set by its administration. I know for certain that there are many well-meaning Christian administrators and teachers in the public schools of America, but they are so outnumbered by the students, and so much more focused on their duties than in monitoring all the out-of-classroom behavior of students, that it is the kids (most frequently their lowest common denominator because of peer pressure and human nature) that ultimately control the culture that pervades every school.

Homeschooling enables not only additional maturity and training opportunities, but also keeps teenagers protected when their peers are at their most dangerous – still immature but set free by their own or a friend’s driver’s license. We want our “baby birds” to survive and stay strong to fly high, not to be injured physically, emotionally or morally from early pushes out of the nest.

Homeschooling is so much more than just a protection from public school’s evils though, and it is something best begun with inspiration of its significant benefits rather than in avoidance of risks associated with school institutions. It is only a small portion of the comfort a homeschooling parent feels to know that their childrens’ moral purity is not being gambled.

Decisions about education are made in the context of economic and family realities, and each situation is unique. In a single-parent family struggling for rent and food, of course those concerns are going to dwarf questions about education. For those with alternatives to consider, though, I pray this article may have opened eyes to help inform these decisions, and that God will bridge the gap between opened eyes and changed hearts; our nation’s children are worth it.

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