School is back in swing and I’m sure many a parent is concern over the dismal influence of the school system on their children’s moral development.

I thought I might share with you some thoughts I have had regarding the debate between public and private school education, more specifically Christian education. In this day and age, then the public school system is more and more actively trying to steer clear of Christianity, many concerned Christian parents have decided to act and send their children to Christian schools.

However, there is a widely held notion that Christians should send their children to public schools in order to evangelize or provide Christian witness to the rest of the school’s population.

The decision to leave the public educational system is undoubtedly difficult. The cost of private schooling may make such an option, no matter how desirable, an impossibility. Further, the inconveniences which may be experienced in changing schools and transportation concerns also add to the complications. Nonetheless, a growing number of Christians have been making the switch.

The reasons for this movement are the increasing anti-Christian sentiments in public schools. Anti-Christian? Well, yes. It is true that Christians hold to many beliefs which happen to fall outside the range of “political correctness,” and, as such, are condemned by the public education system.

Most notably are concerns over “anti-biased education” which mandates the unquestioned acceptance of all lifestyles as legitimate including viewing homosexuality as a viable alternative lifestyle, “sex education” seen by many as promotion of promiscuity; “comparative religions” which is supposed to present an unbiased view of all religions, in effect denying the existence of one universal truth; an “evolution theory” relegating the account of creation in the bible to a mere fable.  Some saw the banishment of the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer as a good indication of the direction of the public system.  Courageous and discerning parents decided to forego the conveniences of public education and place their children in schools which continued to foster Christian morality and ethics.

There was, however, another opinion heralded by the Christian community.  It was deemed not only acceptable but necessary to leave children of Christian parents in the public system in order to be witnesses to the faith.  Without them where would the public system go?  This line of reasoning seems virtuous but requires further investigation.

Both psychology and Christianity itself propose objections to this mode of operations.  Firstly, it has been well established that since children are in a formative stage in their lives, their tendency for reception is at its peak.  One could say that they are much more likely to be influenced than to influence.

Clearly, a common sense view of human psychology would thus discourage Christian children from being educated in an anti-Christian environment.  But as Christians know, God often works in opposition to what seems sensible to humans.  However, in this instance, it appears the Christian faith concurs.

We notice, when reading Scripture,  that Christ did not immediately send out his apostles to preach in the synagogues.  After they has made their professions of faith, and could be counted as believers, there elapsed much time for their education and formation.  And before sending them out he equipped them with the power of miracles.  Let us also equip our children with a sound Christian upbringing before we urge them into a world increasingly hostile to our beliefs.

I sincerely, hope that truly concerned Christian parents, who are able to engage their children in private education either in the home or at a private Christian school, examine the soundness of the decision to send their children into the public school system.  The “reason” to do so should not be a mobile sounding excuse to avoid the inconveniences of private education. (John Westen has a B. A. in psychology from York University and an M.A. in School Psychology from the University of Toronto)