What Are They Teaching Your Kids?
Culture Challenge of the Week: Do You Know What “They” are Teaching Your Kids?
With “free” education offered in every town in the United States, a plethora of teachers who seem to be more than willing to take a role of authority in place of parents, and the convenience of sending our children to someone else to educate them, many parents have relinquished their role as the primary director of their children’s education. Our kids spend more awake time in schoolrooms during their formative years than just about any other place. But it seems that most parents don’t have a clue what their children are being taught.
Even the most expensive private school can be a moral wasteland. Although a high price tag might indicate academic excellence, it can also reflect that the school may contain a level of intellectual snobbery or an air of superiority that assumes that faith in God and traditional moral values are foolishness. Conversely, many nurturing religious schools lack an emphasis on academic achievement. The bottom line is that you have to do your own homework before you can be certain that the private schools in your area are all you hope for. Don’t get me wrong – with the growing failures of the public schools, there has been a rise in the number of private schools across the nation that can help our children to excel both spiritually and academically. It’s just incredibly important to assume nothing, and instead to check out everything that is available to you. Even though school season is upon us, remember this: it is never too late to make a change. It might be too late to get into the private school of your choice, but there are always other options.
Of course, everyone knows – though few want to face it – that the performance level of the public school system is dismal. Study after study reveals that American public education is failing when compared to the rest of the civilized world. Add to that the rampant behavioral problems and sexually explicit “family life education” materials, and you’ve got a host of reasons not to send your children to public school.
This is not meant to bash you if your children are in a public school setting. My own children attended our local public high schools. The point is to be diligent about finding out what goes on in the classroom and whether or not your values are under attack. If you have the slightest indication that your child is susceptible to manipulation or may be influenced by the lack of morality on display in the government schools, then I strongly urge you to look for other educational options.
If you determine that your children will attend public or private schools, then vow – at this moment – to exercise your parental rights and responsibility to be involved in their education.
Making the commitment to become an active participant in your child’s education is the first, and most important decision you will make when preparing the family to head “back to school.”
Your participation includes taking the time to read textbooks, interact with teachers, understand your rights as a parent, question materials, and never, ever assume that someone knows how to teach your child better than you do.
How to Save Your Family: Direct Your Children’s Education
Evaluate each of your children’s needs and your academic choices: my husband and I learned from raising three children that they will never be cookie-cutter images of each other. They have different academic strengths and weaknesses, different tolerance levels, and very different personalities. Each child has a different way of learning, and it’s up to you – not some educator who can’t possibly know or love them like you do – to make the decisions about how and where he or she should be educated. Every parent should have the choice and freedom to select the educational setting that is best for each of their children. I call this approach simply, “parent directed education.” God gave your children to YOU – and it is you that must direct their education, no matter what their school setting.
My husband and I exposed our children to every possible setting over the years – home school, private school and public school. We determined long ago that our family would always march to the beat of our own drummer, so we refused to be victims of snobbery by those parents who insisted that private schools are always the best; we didn’t allow ourselves to be shamed by well-meaning parents who insisted that if we didn’t home school then we were less committed to our kids than they were to theirs; and we absolutely rejected both the conventional wisdom that public education is the answer, and the notion that all public schools are failing schools. We also never forced all of our children into one educational mold out of a desire for convenience. It makes life a little more complicated to actually have to evaluate what situations are best for your individual kids, but it is absolutely worth it.
Seriously consider every option – including home schooling. Research the schools in your area. What are the test scores? What are the behavior problems? How are students disciplined? How much parental involvement is allowed? What textbooks are used? How do they teach sex-ed?
The bottom line is that if a school is keeping you in the dark about materials, classroom procedures, or personal involvement, then they may have a hidden agenda. It might be academic content that emerges as the problem – or it might be an attitude of superiority that seeks to keep you effectively locked out of your child’s education. In either case, I have one piece of advice: Grab your kids and run for their lives! If an adult in “authority” ever tries to force their brand of morality on your children, if any system that has your sons or daughters in their care says that you as the parent don’t belong, then just get up and go.
If you decide it is time to take full control of your kids’ education by home schooling, you must realize upfront that the mass media – and many others – will criticize you for it. The name “home schooling” is actually a misnomer, misrepresenting the many ways parents provide outstanding instruction for their children. Much of home schooling is done through co-ops, or by hiring tutors skilled in specific areas, in group settings or online through acclaimed institutions. Given all the support and technology available to parents today, you just might be surprised to find that “home schooling” is right for you and your children. We were blessed to “home school” our children for a total of seven years – and now that they are grown and on their own, I am so very grateful for every extra minute I had with them. Childhood is fleeting – and I treasure the time I spent learning about the beautiful, unique individuals that God allowed me to mother and to teach. I get teary and quite emotional when I think about all the precious moments I would have missed had I sent them off to school every year.
Vigilance is the key to success. No matter which settings you choose for your children, your eternal vigilance must be present if you are to succeed in developing your child’s emotional, intellectual, and spiritual abilities to their fullest.
Before you know it, your child will be going from their first step, to walking down that graduation aisle and out your door. Make sure you’ve given them the right education and enough of your influence to send them on their way fully equipped to face all of life’s challenges with wisdom, optimism, courage and a strong moral compass.