Last week, a friend shared a Dennis Prager article entitled "Conservative Parents, Left Wing Children" on Facebook. As soon as I read the title, my mind began whispering two words: “Public schools.” The article itself, well-written and thoughtful, led me to consider this initial response more deeply.
Based on my own experience and observations over the past 20 years that I have been a parent with school-aged children, I strongly suspect that the common factor for many if not most families in which conservative parents have had the sad experience of watching their children become indoctrinated by worldly leftist thinking is that their children were all sent through our nation’s school system.
Now, I do know that there are other factors the come into play when we ask questions about why children grow up to reject their parents’ teaching and values and faith. In particular, there is the truth that God grants us all free will to choose Him and to follow His way, and there are just some children who will reject God and godly values no matter how diligently and earnestly their parents try to set them on the right path.
But it’s just common sense that when we immerse our children every day in a particular environment they are going to absorb and embrace certain aspects of it. Their minds are still physically forming, after all, and they absorb like sponges every bit of input we place in their path. Thus, the places we allow them to spend the majority of their time, the things they will see and hear there, the people they will learn from and interact with, will all have a major impact on the connections made in their brains. Place a child’s precious mind at the feet of teachers who are required (if not eager) to teach “false teaching” every single day for twelve years, in an environment that is openly hostile to God and Christianity while fully embracing socialism, atheism, evolutionism and materialism...in an environment that teaches children that they should question the values of their parents and that they themselves are wiser than the generations that have come before...and, go figure, that they’re going to come out on the other side with their mind affected by that.
Even if a child is assigned here and there to a teacher who might be Christian, that is -- firstly -- increasingly not the norm and secondly that one bright spot is just that: A single bright spot. It will be overwhelmed by the darkness of the curriculum that that good teacher must follow if she wants to keep her job and it will be overwhelmed by the (literally) dozens of other teachers and counselors that they will have who (in my own experience and observation) may be liberals or secularists or lukewarm, fainthearted Christians who prioritize towing the line over living out their faith. In fact, this is increasingly the case because many of our new teachers are themselves the products of such public schools, and they have been trained by liberalized and secularized college programs to use and implement teaching methods and curriculum that reject traditional values and Christianity. As the older generation of traditional teachers retires, they are being replaced by an army of eager and perhaps even well-intentioned young teachers whose minds, nevertheless, have been shaped and corrupted by these same godless influences that fill our schools.
Further, the one bright spot we might have in a “good” teacher here and there will be overwhelmed by the many years the child will spend immersed in a “Light-less” secularized anti-God environment while surrounded by a sea of children who are themselves the products of modern culture. These children -- many of them from homes led by secularized parents or lukewarm Christians (we know this is true from the basic statistics being reported about the decline of faith in the US) -- wear modern corrupted culture on their clothing, blast it from their iPods, spew it from their mouths, text it over their phones, and peer pressure it into and onto everyone around them.
_This_ is where millions upon millions of us are placing our children every day, year after year, in order that they can learn how to think and what to think. Is it surprising, truly, that in the end they will learn _exactly_ what the agendas driving the curriculum they’re exposed to for 12 years _want_ them to learn? Is it any wonder that they will think of the world through the socialistic, secularized lenses their eyes have been trained to look through for all those years? Is it really unexpected that our children will learn how to both question and answer just like those who we have trusted to teach them these skills?
This issue of educating our children -- where we choose to do that and who we allow to be in charge of that process -- is of singular importance and it deserves special attention.
Unfortunately, far too many Christian parents do not want to talk about it. Public schooling is a very, very sensitive issue for Christian parents today. Until we get past our collective defensiveness, however, and begin really seeing just how much our nation’s schools have changed...until we have the courage to really embrace the fact that we are indeed strangers and aliens living in a foreign land, and that this land and its institutions are becoming increasingly hostile to us and our way of life...we will not have the courage to face the hard choices that an honest answer to Mr. Prager’s question will require us to make.