I like public school. I like private Christian school, too, but memories from public school sure do bring a smile to my face. I grew up going to a mixture of both. My three kids grew up going to a mixture of both and, with the exception of a few oddball years, public schools aren’t nearly as scary as Christians can make them out to be.
Fears associated with public schools run the gamut, most of which are quite legitimate. After all, we live in a world where, apart from Jesus, “no one is righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). So while some parents fear their kids will buy into their science textbooks’ lies regarding the origin of the universe, other parents don’t trust the security measures put into place to prevent school shootings. And while some parents fear their kids will give into the lure of sex and drugs, other parents don’t like the idea of schools having atheist clubs.
If I’m honest, I’ve expressed all of the above fears. I understand a parent’s apprehension towards public school and their desire to choose an alternative. In fact, at one time I pulled my kids out of public school and placed them in a Christian junior high because of my fears—just like my parents did with me.
But after reflecting on my own experiences and those of my children, and in an effort to encourage parents on the fence regarding their child’s education, I’ve compiled a list of 7 reasons Christians don’t need to fear public school.
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1. God is There.
I’ve heard the rants: “God has been taken out of our public schools!” I’ve read the articles: “Public schools are godless establishments.” And I’ve seen the fear etched on faces of moms and dads: “Heaven forbid our son go to a school where God is not welcome.” But the absence of God is scripturally impossible, for God is everywhere at all times.
Psalm 139:7 & 12 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? . . . for darkness is as light to you.” In Matthew 1:23, Jesus is called “Immanuel . . . which means ‘God with us.’” And Isaiah 6:3 proclaims “the whole earth is full of his glory”—a whole earth in which public schools are certainly included.
And just like God was present in “godless establishments” when He sent judges to deliver the Israelites from pagan nations, Jonah to preach to the wicked people of Nineveh, faithful spies to Jericho and into the life of Rahab the prostitute, and Jesus to reach the lost far and wide—including a woman in idolatrous Samaria—His powerful, life-changing, relational presence is still found in the most unlikely of places today.
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2. God's Protection is There.
A quick scroll through our newsfeeds often begs the question: Where was God’s protection? We see disaster and harm rip apart families, neighborhoods, churches, and schools—private, homeschool, and public schools alike. Yet God tells us to “not be afraid or terrified” (Deuteronomy 31:6), that in Him “we can take refuge” (2 Samuel 22:3). But in a world so unstable, what kind of refuge is God talking about?
It’s human to want God to tangibly protect our kids from violence, predators, and temptations. The good news is, He often does! And it’s something we should pray for “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But sometimes God, whose ways are not our ways, protects differently than we would if we were in charge. His protection plan is bigger and better than anything we could ever pay for in tuition fees or time spent teaching our kids at home. While we tend to think short-term (I want my kid to be free from bullies and God-opposing teachers), our heavenly Father thinks long-term (I want my kids to be free forever). Trusting in His protection ensures that our kids will never be alone (John 14:16), never be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6), never spend eternity apart from Him (John 14:3), and for us parents, never be ruled by fear (2 Timothy 1:7).
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3. God's Love is There.
Romans 8:35, 37-39 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God’s love is so all-encompassing that not even the most terrifying inner-city public school, filled with worn-out teachers, at-risk students, and uninvolved parents, is beyond the saving reach of God’s love.
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4. Deep Friendships are There.
My deepest and most life-giving, God-honoring friendships have their roots in public school, whereas my most sketchy friendships were found in private Christian school. But that’s my experience—certainly an experience not shared by everyone. My point is, because no human is perfect, bad influences are everywhere. Keeping our kids out of public school for fear they’ll hang with the wrong crowd may only leave us disappointed and disheartened.
There’s an old saying: “Choose your friends; don’t be chosen”—wisdom we should pass along to our children as they navigate the world of friend-making, whether at school, church, or right next door. After all, since “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), there are plenty of dangerous people wanting to “choose” our kids as their friends.
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5. Caring Teachers are There.
As I reflect on the variety of teachers my kids have had over the years, I’m blown away by how many of them were at a public school. Not just caring teachers, but joyful, energetic, encouraging . . . and yes, even true believers, teachers who modeled Jesus to my kids—every single day. In fact, my daughter’s public school geometry teacher once shared insight from Scripture after class, hoping it would bring peace to her anxiety-prone soul. And it did.
There’s no denying the existence of terrible teachers in the public school system. I remember my third grade teacher was a self-proclaimed witch. Then again, I also remember a few Christian school teachers who had no business working with kids: a seventh grade teacher who only spoke in passive aggressive tones and a P.E. teacher who told my class, “You guys make me sick.” Therefore, I don’t view private schools as a hub for excellent teachers. But there’s a bright side: awful teachers taught me patience, strengthened my convictions regarding what’s appropriate, and gave my family and I someone to pray for.
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6. Prayed Over-Students, Classrooms, and Staff are There.
Because we’re quick to forget the power of prayer over the lives of our kids, fear can easily control our decision-making and become the motivating factor behind keeping our kids out of public school. We think, Once they leave our sides every morning and walk onto campus, their lives are laid bare before the enemy with no protection in sight. But that just isn’t true.
Did you know there are groups of people praying over every public school? Not just grandmas and grandpas, but ministry organizations solely dedicated to the lifting-up of public schools in prayer. Some groups are assigned to specific districts, schools, classrooms, students, teachers, and administrators. And they get specific in prayer, too! They pray for biblical values to be miraculously upheld despite opposition, for the gospel to spread like wildfire across campus, for teachers to discern the needs of their students and administration the needs of their teachers, and for wider education issues.
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7. Opportunities to Show Compassion are There.
If there’s ever a place for our kids to respond to God’s love by putting into action His command to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27), it’s at a public school. As believers, we often keep our kids inside “safe” Christian bubbles. But eventually God will call our kids to see and meet the needs of the lost (and the occasional mission trip isn’t the only way He does this), to develop within them hearts of compassion. With a prayer-backed, watchful, and supportive home environment, public schools are great places for our youth to become more and more like Jesus, the Savior of the world who, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
Molly Parker cherishes her role as contributor and editor for Anchored Press Devotional Planners and for Sacred Holidays Bible studies. When Molly's not French-braiding hair or scolding her basset hound, she's eating cake, baking a cake, or thinking about cake, which is surprising considering she's worked in the fitness industry 25 years. Molly lives in Southern California with her husband and three children.
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