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November 16, 2014

Why We Have Opted Out of Public Education

Over the course of the past several months, I have attempted to write this post...Each time, I just didn't like the way it was coming together...I have scrapped several drafts...In my attempt to share one of the most passionate pieces of my heart, my thoughts were not coming together in the way that I wanted....I felt that my words would be easily misunderstood and twisted in ways that would be hurtful to some of my I took a step back from this topic...and waited for my thoughts to flow in a way that I feel better express my heart...and today, I want to share with you why government schooling is not an option for our family. In communicating my thoughts, I have no doubt that I will (without intending to) offend someone in some way...This post is not for those who want to debate this topic...This post is not for those who refuse to try to understand my heart...This post is for those of you who have also been called to reject what is "normal" and do what is "weird". 

Before I held my first bundle of joy in my arms, I was an elementary teacher - with my years of experience [mostly] being in faith-based educational environments. Fellow parents who know that this was my past will oftentimes ask, "What schools [in our area] would you recommend?" "Is such-and-such school a 'good school'?" These parent are usually looking for a quick and clear-cut answer....They want me to confirm whether or not their county or district includes any 'good schools' for their children. Honestly, it depends on what you are looking for when it comes to an education for your children. 

You see, we have chosen to opt out of the government's education system~

When it comes to an education for our children, we strongly believe that this is ultimately our responsibility (not the church's....and most definitely not the government's); and two overarching ideas effect our decisions in this area.

Why We Have Opted Out of Public Education

#1 When inviting others to join our family's team, we are looking for fellow Christ-followers who will speak truth in to the lives of our children. We are seeking individuals who will reinforce what we are teaching our children at home....ultimately passionate about reaching their heart and molding their character.

#2 We seek curriculum that is complete, excellent, and consistent with our philosophy of life. You may wonder what I mean by our 'philosophy of life'...I Corinthians 8:6 provides a perfect explanation. I love the way The Message translation reads, "There is only God the Father...everything comes from Him, and He wants us to live for Him. Everything is for His sake, including us." When it comes to educating our children, we are looking for fellow "team members" and curriculum that will reinforce these truths...

...There is only one God...
...Everything comes from Him...
...We exist for Him...

I would encourage matter what choice you have made for your carefully think through these questions....Who have you invited to join your family's team? Who is investing in your children? Who is speaking in to their life? Who/What is shaping their worldview? What are they learning about God? About life? About their purpose for existence?

We have heard many arguments regarding this topic...

"Our tax dollars have already paid for our children to be educated by government schools."
"I went to a Christian school when I was little, and it was..." 
"We want our children to go to public school so they can shine their light for Jesus."
"I went to public school when I was a kid, and I turned out okay."
"The principal of __________ School is a Christian."
"The public schools in our area are very safe."
"I want my son to be able to play a 'real school'."
"We can not afford Christian school, and homeschooling is not for us." 
"I knew this one home school family....and their kids were totally awkward."
"I want to home school our children, but my spouse is not on board."
"All of my child's neighborhood friends go to __________ School." 

You may have found yourself saying some of these things....No matter what your situation, may I encourage you to do one thing? If your heart's desire is to honor God with the choices you make regarding the education of your children, would you please pray? May I encourage you to wholeheartedly pray about the people you have chosen to invest in their lives? May I plead with you to really seek to investigate and understand the curriculum with which they are interacting? Is it complete? Are there important disciplines missing?  What are your children being taught as truth when it comes to origin of life? Their purpose for living? The definition of success? Are they being taught absolutes or that truth is relative? Are they being taught an accurate account of our nation's history? Are they learning the value of human life or is nature held in higher esteem?

You see, the government's system of education stands in direct opposition to the truths that we cling to as Christ-followers. Therefore, their schools are not an option for us.
Why We Have Opted Out of Public Education

When it comes to choosing a doctor for our children, we would never place them under the care of a doctor whose philosophy of medicine was diametrically opposed to everything in which we believed. The same comes in to play when making choices regarding the education of our children. We are not interested in socializing them in 'the real world'....We are not interested in being part of 'the system'...'The village' does not appeal to us.

When it comes to educating our children, we passionately take the greenhouse approach - seeking to nurture our children in a safe environment - Please understand that I am not describing a secluded environment, but a safe one...a worldview training ground where we are the guides - providing them with everything that they need to stand strong against the very real elements that they will face throughout their life. In a practical way, what does this look like? I believe it starts with answering their very real questions about life....Combating cultural norms with truth and helping them understand the "why's....Allowing them to see the realities of Christ's difference in our lives and how that is lived out in the day-to-day...Encouraging excellence, independence, and creativity with Christ at the center of it all. We are not capable of doing this in our strength - We are simply flawed individuals relying on a flawless Savior to fill in the gaps where we are weak...but our heart's desire is to point our children to the Savior and encourage them to seek after Him all of their days. 

No two families will approach this the same way - There is no one-size-fits-all package~ It is exciting to consider the fact that there are so many options out there for families who seek a faith-based education for their children. Our current plan is to home school our children - and we are thrilled about all of the amazing opportunities that are available for them! Oh how the home school community has grown and changed and flourished (much to the disdain of its well as those who simply choose not to understand it). We realize this will continue to be an area where we prayerfully consider each season of life...each child...each year...and seek to do what we feel God is directing us to do at each point. I would encourage each family to do the same. 

I realize that this is a very personal decision - It is not for me to direct families toward a specific educational choice...but as mentioned above, I would simply ask that you pray about your decision - understanding that God is the only One we ultimately answer to - not our families...not our friends...not the other neighborhood moms - knowing you are resting in His best for your family is absolutely the only goal.

A few final thoughts:
I consistently receive e-mails from moms who are unsure of their ability to educate their children at home. May I just say that if God has called you to a task, He will most definitely equip you with everything you need to accomplish it. This does not ensure that it will always be easy, but it so good to know that He will walk beside us all the way - providing what we need when we need it.

On another note, we are so thankful for the many incredible faith-based learning environments available to us in our area - and for the staff members that serve in various roles there. What a difference their work is making. They are not simply teaching academic knowledge...They are reaching hearts. They are teaching all areas of the curricula through the lens that God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things...and our purpose is to live our lives bringing glory to Him. What an honor it was to serve in such a role!

Thank you for allowing me to share the real me...the me who is passionate about a few topics that are difficult to discuss. Please know that I cherish the fact that you would spend your time here with me. Thank you so much for reading~