We are continuing the series dealing with two different world views: the secular worldview and the Christian worldview, based on the authoritative Word of God.
In this issue of the Langstaff Letter, we will look at how this works out in the area of schools and education. Once again, while I am looking at this from the perspective of America, the issues are not limited to this country.
SCHOOLS IN AMERICA TODAY
The recent election for governor in Virginia was impacted by issues relating to schools. The Democratic candidate, McAuliffe, made a now-famous debate remark, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach” (washingtonexaminer.com).
This was the first time in a long time that parents and education played such a major part in an election. Incidentally, Bill Maher, comedian and late-night TV host, warned Virginia Democrats that they could lose the election over school issues because parents vote (foxnews.com). The conflict in Virginia highlights the battle that is intensifying regarding education and schools today. There are many issues involved but let’s look at a few.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY
The big issue here is the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) which has come to the surface in the last 4 to 5 years. Back in the spring of this year, I did a whole Langstaff Letter on Racism and did a section on CRT pointing out some of its basic tenets, including:
- Race is socially constructed, not biologically natural.
- Racism in the United States is normal, not aberrational. It is a common ordinary experience of most people of color
- Legal advances (or setbacks for people of color) tend to serve the interest of dominant white groups.
“Teachers are introducing critical race theory, which views U.S. history through the prism of racial conflict” (realclearinvestigations.com). Now, the end result is to assign guilt and blame based solely on race. It is to produce white guilt.
Let me give the responses of two public figures. Firstly, Dr. Ben Carson, the world-renowned surgeon and cabinet member under Trump, wrote, “Growing up poor in Detroit, if I had believed, as critical race theory (CRT) proponents claim, that my destiny was based on my race, I would not be where I am today. We cannot allow CRT to rob American children of that same hope that was instilled in me” (foxnews.com).
Then there is a report of Condoleezza Rice of Stanford University and one-time secretary of state. Being African American, she was brought up in a time of segregation in Alabama. However, she was taught that she could overcome it and she could be everything she wanted to be.
In a recent appearance on “The View,” she clashed with co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Sunny Hostin while discussing CRT. Rice declared, “I would like black kids to be completely empowered to know they are beautiful in their blackness, but in order to do that, I don’t have to make white kids feel bad for being white” (dailycaller.com).
ATTACK ON HOMESCHOOLERS
A Harvard Law Professor, Elizabeth Bartholet, calls for a national ban on homeschooling. “Bartholet argues that homeschooling not only violates children’s rights to a ‘meaningful education’ and their right to be protected from potential child abuse but may keep them from contributing positively to a democratic society” (breakpoint.org).
“Princeton professor Robert George pointed out, ‘This article isn’t so much an argument against homeschooling as it for the compulsory secularization of America’s children'” (breakpoint.org).
Again, an example of the battle between a secular worldview and a Christian worldview that relates to the place of parents in educating their children.
ATTACK ON CHRISTIAN COLLEGES
In an article titled: “A Direct Threat to Christian Education—The Human Rights Campaign Demands that the Biden Administration Deny Accreditation to Christian Colleges and Schools,” Albert Mohler writes,
“The accreditation of Christian colleges and schools has just been directly targeted by the nation’s most influential LGBTQ organization. The Human Rights Campaign has recently issued a document directed at the incoming administration entitled Blueprint for Positive Change 2020. The Blueprint demands that President-elect Biden adopt a legislative agenda and enact specific executive orders that are in line with the LGBTQ movement—a movement that Biden pledged to champion” (albertmohler.com).
OTHER ISSUES REGARDING SCHOOLING
There are other issues, such as how schools handle transgender people. I will leave those for a later Langstaff Letter about this, particularly in the light of the accusation that a biological male assaulted a young woman in the girl’s bathroom in Virginia.
WHO SHOULD TEACH CHILDREN ANYWAY?
Back in 1979, the late sociologist, Christophe Lasch, wrote about the storied history of education. “Lasch believed that when industrialization took labor outside of the home, it led many Americans to question whether other responsibilities should leave home, too. Lasch quotes two national education officials who, in 1918, said, ‘Once the school had mainly to teach the elements of knowledge; now it is charged with the physical, mental and social training of the child as well.’
Around the same time, Sigmund Freud was psychoanalyzing parenthood, often casting parents in the role of villain. This was also the era in which the modern concept of social work was born and when America launched the juvenile justice system. Entire industries were built upon the premise that parents were largely unqualified to raise their kids or at least needed a lot of help from the state. In the late 1800s, Ellen Richards, the founder of modern social work, suggested that ‘in a social republic, the child as a future citizen is an asset of the state, not the property of its parents.’
A few decades earlier, Dutch theologian, statesman, and philosopher Abraham Kuyper outlined a very different theory of the relationship between the family, the state, and other aspects of society. With his view of ‘sphere sovereignty,’ Kuyper suggested that government was only one of the God-ordained governing institutions, each created with their own purview and scope of authority. Though they have a vested interest in the education of citizens, governments don’t bear the responsibility or the right to usurp parents’ authority.
Kuyper believed that societal breakdown was inevitable whenever a God-ordained authority either abandoned or exerted authority outside of its ordained sphere. That’s an ominous analysis today when so many, including gubernatorial candidates, see the state as society rather than as a mere element of society.” (breakpoint.org).
Society is made up of many parts. Three of the main institutions are:
- The home and family
- The church
- The government (which in today’s world includes schools).
Education starts with parents in the home, and in turn, they receive help from the church and also the government. However, the government was never intended to take it over at the expense of the parents.
WHAT SHOULD PARENTS DO?
What should parents who are holding to a Christian worldview do? Let me suggest some thoughts.
- Ask the Lord for guidance as to what you are to do.
- Realize there are many options for educating your children, including the following:
- Christian schools
- Independent schools
- Charter schools
- Religious schools
- Homeschooling (Note – not every parent is capable of homeschooling).
- Monitor your child’s progress and be aware of what is being taught in their school.
- Recognize that the primary responsibility for the education of children is with you, the parents.
A CLOSING THOUGHT
Again, we must recognize that this is a battle in America between the secular worldview and a Christian worldview. It is heartbreaking that children should be caught up in the middle of this conflict. Once again, the call is to pray and do whatever God leads you to do.