I have long wanted to share this teaching moment with Chalcedon’s readers.
A few years ago, in the middle of a 10th-grade science class I was teaching at a local public high school, a girl unexpectedly rose from her seat and demanded her classmates’ attention.
“Listen, everybody! I’ve got something to tell you. I’m pregnant — I’m gonna have a baby!”
After a round of applause, one of the students asked a question: “Who’s the baby’s father?”
“Well, I don’t know,” said the 15-year-old girl. “But there’s only four or five guys it could be.”
That was one of those days that got me out of teaching. It was not the worst thing I ever heard, or saw, in a public school. It was only one of hundreds of distressing incidents. Or thousands.
It is amazing that 50 million American children, most of them from families that at least profess Christianity, are still sent to these schools five days a week. Years ago, R. J. Rushdoony, crusading to get Christian children into Christian education, expressed a deeper frustration:
Why then did kindergarten succeed? The answer was and is clear-cut: the desire of women to get rid of their children. Educators had to set an age requirement for kindergarten children, else they would be deluged with mothers trying to push very young children into their hands. Thus, kindergarten has proven to be in part a polite and oblique form of infanticide, one which hypocritical women can indulge in while getting credit for solicitous motherhood.
Harsh language, indeed — but the public school is no place for Christian children, and it can be maddening that so many Christian parents seem unable or unwilling to believe it.
Many books have been written on the moral and intellectual deficiencies of public education. We recommend three of them: Rushdoony’s The Messianic Character of American Education, 1963, quoted above; The Harsh Truth about Public Schools by Bruce Shortt (Vallecito, CA: Chalcedon Foundation, 2004), which provides a raft of documentation; and The Underground History of American Education by former New York State Teacher of the Year John Taylor Gatto (New York: Oxford Village Press, 2006). If you can still support and defend public education after reading these three books, you are impervious to reason.
Although the purpose of these articles is to proclaim the benefits of homeschooling, it’s necessary to revisit the claim that public education is a moral and spiritual wasteland. So here are ten reasons why, if you still have children in the public schools, you should pull them out as soon as possible.
1. Public schools actively promote sodomy and other forms of immoral and risky behavior.
There are thousands of examples of this, abundantly reported from every state in the Union. By the time you finish reading this paragraph, there will be many more. It’s impossible to list them all, but here are just a few recent examples.
The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) this spring held a “transsexuality/transgender workshop” at Brookline High School, Massachusetts (see http://www.article8.org/docs/news_events/glsen_043005/tranny/tranny_panel.htm). Warning: the description of this taxpayer-funded “education event” is not suitable for readers with weak stomachs. It goes without saying that it was not suitable for children.
Meanwhile, in nearby Lexington, school officials are still dealing with the May 17 gang beating of the seven-year-old son of David Parker, the father who was jailed last year for protesting the school’s teaching his child about homosexual “marriage” without first notifying parents (see http://www.massresistance.org/docs/events06/parker_son_incident/index.html).
Many states have laws requiring schools to notify parents before they teach controversial “lessons” about sexual morality, so that parents may opt their children out of such instruction.
School officials in Raleigh, North Carolina, routinely skip this step. This winter, Raleigh schools went ahead with a seminar called “The New Gay Teenager” without first notifying parents (http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/news/story.aspx?cid=3692), in violation of state law. Raleigh schools tried it again this summer, but this time had to back off plans to show a sexually explicit film in the classrooms — again without parental notification (http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/news/story.aspx?cid=3788). If you’re thinking parental notification laws protect your children, think again.
This has been going on for years, as we see from a 1992 book, Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong:
“The type of sex education that has dominated schools from the late sixties to the present is a product of the same nondirective school of thought. Like affective drug education, it serves up a blend of facilitation, values clarification, self-esteem, and choices. Students are encouraged to question, to explore options, and to develop more tolerant attitudes toward the sexual behavior of others.”
We have no space here to sift the mountains of evidence that prove the point. But this is how it is in the public schools, and it is not going to get better. How much of this “teaching” are you willing for your children to experience?
2. Public education undermines your children’s Christian beliefs.
“Public schooling is the great state church of polytheism,” writes Bradley Heath. “It is here the dogmas of openness, tolerance, and diversity are preached, and the rejection of absolutes deeply ingrained … Public schools function as churches by teaching inescapably religious doctrines (e.g., the origin and purpose of man, the nature of the universe, moral philosophy, ethics, and justice) and fostering intentional community among the parishioners.”
“Tolerance and diversity” and the absolute truth of God’s Word cannot be co-masters of your child’s mind. “No man can serve two masters,” Jesus said, “for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other” (Matt. 6:24).
Aside from the schools’ anti-Christian stance on sexual morality, do you want your children learning “science” that proclaims that life arose by chance, due purely to materialistic processes? After all, if that is true, then God is not God.
If your child is still in public school, perhaps you ought to read his science textbook and see how it squares with the Bible — and the other textbooks, too.
3. The public school establishment resists any and all reform and will never get any better.
ABC-TV reporter John Stossel proves this conclusively in his 20/20 documentary “Stupid in America” (see http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=285) and in his writings on the subject.
The most expensive school reform in U.S. history, the “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,” has been exposed as a sham. “U.S. states are ‘dumbing down’ their grade-school tests, where high failure rates could bring penalties under the federal ‘No Child Left Behind’ law, University of California researchers reported.”
Public education is an industry controlled by vested interests — teachers’ unions, textbook publishers, school administrators — whose mission in life is to protect those interests. It has virtually nothing to do with giving your child a quality education.
4. Academically, public schooling is geared to mediocrity.
Citing a 1958 critique of a National Education Association document, Education for All American Youth, Rushdoony quotes:
“The dean of one of our teachers’ colleges put it this way: ‘An educated man is one who is well adjusted and helpful in his community.’
“Asked whether a man who was well adjusted and helpful could be considered educated without also being able to count his fingers or write his name, the dean said, ‘Yes.’”
Excellence has no place in public education. I observed for myself teachers allowing students to cheat on tests, “enrichment classes” that consisted of children watching The Jerry Springer Show on the classroom TV set, and an “accelerated class” of two dozen students who all gave exactly the same answer to a question on an essay test.
5. Public education consumes at least $500 billion a year in tax money, much of which is wasted.
No one has actually counted the money spent on public schooling, so we only have an estimate. Some of the worst inner-city school districts spend up to $20,000 per pupil a year. Where does the money go?
Americans opting out of the public schools en masse will either force meaningful reforms or, more likely, cause the whole system to collapse financially. We’re rooting for the latter outcome.
6. The public school is a hotbed of materialism and conspicuous consumption.
A sixth-grade girl once came up to me with a $100 bill and asked for change.
Public school students may not be very interested in history or science, but they are fanatical about clothes, cell phones, and video games, and compete avidly to see who can show off the latest and costliest acquisitions. Needless to say, this will not be a concern for homeschooling families.
7. Public school is a crucible of peer pressure.
We have all known children who get into trouble because that’s what the other kids are doing. I once sent a boy to the principal’s office for disrupting my class, not knowing that he and his friends earlier that morning had vandalized another teacher’s car. The principal phoned the boy’s father, who immediately left work to come and confer with us. The boy, he said (and the principal confirmed it), never used to misbehave until he fell in with a certain group a few months earlier. Under their influence, he became a truant, a vandal, a thief, and a classroom bigmouth. His father tried valiantly to discipline him, but the boy “went bad” every day he came to school and met his “friends.”
Again, this is a problem that is unlikely to trouble homeschooling families.
8. Removing children from public schools will weaken the power of teachers’ unions and make for a better America.
In some states (like my own, New Jersey,) the teachers’ union is the single most powerful force in politics. The unions are potent nationally, too — sucking dues out of the paychecks of hundreds of thousands of teachers and applying the money to left-wing political causes. Here in New Jersey, every union-endorsed candidate is backed up by vast contributions of money and unpaid “campaign volunteers.” Even the public TV newscast is paid for by the state teachers’ union — and it shows.
Our taxes pay the teachers’ salaries, which go on to fund political causes, such as “gay rights,” which most of us find odious. By supporting the union-dominated state monopoly on public education by continuing to send our children to the public schools, we bankroll the political Left.
9. Public education is inefficient.
Whether it’s guidance counselors for third-graders, high school “diversity consultants,” busing children across town when the nearest school is only blocks away from home, or building a heated, Olympic-size swimming pool for teenage students who have yet to learn to read, public education excels at wasting money. We hope a mass exodus from public schools will finally topple this monopoly.
10. The whole purpose of public education is to transform America into a statist “democracy” to be “managed” by elites.
This is the theme of Rushdoony’s The Messianic Character of American Education. Step by step, Rushdoony analyzes the development of public education’s “mission” from its origin over 150 years ago. His sources are the writings of public education’s founders and philosophers, from Horace Mann to John Dewey: out of their own mouths they stand condemned.
A quote from an 1887 lecture by A. A. Hodge sums up Rushdoony’s message:
“I am as sure as I am of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social nihilistic ethics, individual, social and political, which this sin-rent world has never seen.”
If your children are still attending public school, this “enginery” is working on them five days a week.
 R. J. Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1963), 282–283.
 William K. Kilpatrick, Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 53.
 Bradley Heath, Millstones and Stumbling Blocks (Tucson, AZ: Fenestra Books, 2006), 89.
 See chapter five, “Stupid Schools,” in Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity (New York: Hyperion Books, 2006).
 Paul Basken, “‘No Child’ Law Found Leading States to Weaken Tests (Update 1), July 5, 2006, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aUFZ36i1ufvs&refer=us.
 Rushdoony, 218.
 Cited by Rushdoony, 335.