Full disclosure: I am a (try my best) Jesus-following Christian, as well as a public educator and teacher’s union co-president. So perhaps take this with a grain of salt.
As a part of the Church, I take issue with the label Christian being applied to every facet of life. If “Christian” is applied to music, the tune better be from the Psalms and follow a typical Middle Eastern scale and musical progression since that is what Jesus would have sung. If it is Christian clothing, it better be one piece, pullover, and long enough to reach one’s ankles. Another thing that has me fired up as of late is the idea of “Christian” education, where well-meaning individuals who may or may not realize the impact that major corporations are having on the people who discuss education.
This evening, on my way home from my second job I was listening to the radio and ended up listening to Cynthia Tobias on Focus on the Family’s radio program. It took approximately three minutes for me to get fired up to the point of yelling at the steering wheel and (paying homage to my Pentecostal upbringing) rebuking the Spirit of Slap which I wanted to invoke. Let me address the titular issue and then the meat-and-potatoes issues.
To attach the label “Christian” to education means the educators are teach tinghe children to be specifically like Jesus (love one another, miracles, etc.). Jesus didn’t do calculus, study micro-biology, and he definitely did not read the book of James; it wasn’t written when he was in school. To label an education as Christian is false; any parent who would be satisfied with their child receiving this style of education is not fit to have children.
When advocates of school choice endorse “Christian” schools, what they are encouraging parents is the idea of letting the school train the child. This concept has worked well for public schools, believe me. Because clearly the students who have behavior issues are a byproduct of the unwholesome atmosphere of the public school, and not from the broken, unhealthy home environments from which they come. The Bible places the emphasis on parents taking responsibility for being the moral compass for the children (Proverbs 22:6 if you don’t believe me). To place children in a school like this because of the moral education the child will receive is a cop out; parents need to take the responsibility for the education.
When these school-choice talking heads use the word “Christian,” they are only using it as a stand-in for saying the word “charter” twice in one sentence. The Bible calls for followers of Christ to be in the world but not of it (Romans 12:2); parents who intentionally place their children into an environment that segregates them from the “evils of the world” deserve every bit of rebellion they will face when their children grow up and wise up. I grew up with friends in private “Christian” schools; they are no better off today morally, spiritually, educationally, or professionally than any of my friends who attended public school with me.
As I grow older, I begin to dislike the label “Christian” more and more because of how it is falsely applied to many situations. I am a public school teacher, Children’s Church volunteer, and I am proud of the things in which I am involved. Advocates of “Christian” schools need to consider what they are advocating and why they are advocating it.