Christians and Public Education: A Matter of Biblical Justice
One year ago, Jemar Tisby wrote, There are Children Here: Christians and Public Education. In this article, Jemar details his experience as a teacher and principal as a Christian in the public school sector. He also argues against the apathy and, often, the disdain that some Christians feel towards the public school system.
Jemar was recently interviewed by the Christian Research Journal, and you can find the interview by clicking here.
Here are quotes from There are Children Here: Christians and Public Education:
- Teachers and administrators are not, and cannot be the Messiah. God already sent him. But the Lord sends Christians as well. He sends them to the places with the most severe want and where people are the most marginalized.Children, including those in public schools, are some of society’s most vulnerable constituents. There is a need for believers there.
- Serving in public schools can be a singularly effective way to demonstrate God’s grace and mercy. Kids, and not just poor black and brown ones, need so much. Whether it’s volunteering to read to a 3rd grader, hiring a high school student as an intern at your company, or running for the local school board, every believer can contribute to the health of public schools.
- I have had the honor of working with countless Christians in public education, from teachers, to bus drivers, to accountants, to custodians, to coaches. Christians have always been involved in public education, and continue to be involved today. But there is room for more. I hope believers will ask themselves whether their personal opposition to public education has caused them to ignore or reject opportunities to minister in that setting.
4 thoughts on “Christians and Public Education: A Matter of Biblical Justice”
I applaud the hard work that those who teach in the public school system. The occupations of public school teacher and local church pastor are the two top careers chosen by members of my extended family. I, myself, am a product of the public school system.
The primary issue that I have with public schools is the lack of system wide incentive for excellence. Don’t misread me. There are some amazing teachers who seek continuous improvement in the classroom. There are some amazing administrators who understand that the public school system much not exist as an entity unto itself and that there are real customers of the system.
This primary issue is due to a lack of real competition. We can no longer afford to assume that the only way that the poor (regardless of race) can be properly educated to meet the demands that they will face in the modern and future global economy is through a publicly funded monopoly that is frequently confused about its very purpose.
You have an interesting take on “state institutions” that were originally created and then abandon by Christians. You must assume we can do better than the previous generation of Christians this time. Do you have a date all this happened. I will bet you its just about the time of integration for most Christians. It sounds much like the “government schools” argument given by home and private school advocates who are governed by government standards and use money from the government.
I think you might have to define who is a Christian before you could set up your “distinctly Christian way”; even we Christians can’t agree on those things. See this summers Trinity debate for example.
No. I think Jemar is advocating for loving your neighbor. You can not love your neighbor if you abandon his child in the public school system.
God is not taken out of the schools when the ten commandments leave, God leaves when your Christian children leave.
If you love your children more than you love your neighbor’s children, then you love yourself more than your neighbor. You know, the greatest command.
Praying for us now.
I applaud the love for the poor and the motives behind Jemar’s perspective here. As a former advocate of Christians participating and teaching in the public school systems I can say this with sincerity. I’m also a fan of Jemar in general as a co-laborer in the Great Commission. That isn’t lip service, really I do. But I think (and I say this with love) some of his presuppositions lead him to wrong conclusions. I would exhort him to re-examine how he arrives at his position. As someone receiving a salary from the institution of Public Schools, I can see how this would be difficult. But at the end of the day, Christians need to put their energies into building rival institutions that are run in a distinctly Christian way, especially if we want to help the poor. We know that what is best for society emanates from scripture, and that the scriptural vessel for charity is the family and the church and not the state. These state institutions actually undermine and usurp the true role of charity in society which Christians should be advocating. We should also not support a system built on a commitment to pursuing the attainment of knowledge by first setting aside the word of God (as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden) and funding it by (whether intentionally or not) stealing from our neighbors.
Please consider this article I wrote at New City Times covering some of the comment arguments made by Christians in advocating for Public Schools.
I love this article and a person who had taught in different types of schools………………………..