Oh boy, here we go! :)
What this series is not:
This series is not a blanket defense of public schools, and it is not trying to convince anyone to send their kids to public school.
This series is not a debate. I’m not going to square a family who homeschools against a family who public schools, or a family who had a positive experience of public school versus one who had a negative experience.
This series is not making the argument that every public school is right for every Christian family.
This series is not addressing the negative effects Christians can have on public schools.
This series is not meant to be representative of every type of family or every type of public school.
This series is not a commitment that my family will always attend public school.
Okay, then, what is this series?
On the internet, we hear a lot from Christian families who have chosen to homeschool. We hear a lot from secular families who have chosen public school. We hear from Christian families who have chosen private Christian or classical school and secular families who have chosen private secular school.
Too often, these internet voices – especially the first two – are strident and black-and-white, focused on cementing their choice as the best option and painting any other choice as lesser, wrong, or – in some cases – dangerous or irresponsible. (It is worth noting that the real-life voices I hear, across the scholastic board, are almost-uniformly more humble and gracious.)
In this series, I hope to give voice to committed Christian families who have made the decision to attend public school and who have had a largely-positive experience. If you’ve been around on the internet a bit, you know this is not a constituency we hear from much. That’s a shame, because we all benefit from having an accurate, well-rounded worldview instead of one that’s shaped by niche pockets of social media. I’ve asked several women I trust and know personally to share their perspective, and I will be sharing mine, as well.
What do I mean by committed Christian families? Generally, I mean families with parents whose Christian faith is central to their lives and who are actively seeking to help their children to trust God and follow Jesus. They buy into Justin Whitmel Earley’s conception of households as “schools of love, places where we have one vocation, one calling: to form all who live here into lovers of God and neighbor.” They agree with him in their desire to produce “something other than the typical anxiety-ridden, depression-prone, lonely, confused, and screen-addicted teenager” but instead form children in God’s love, who they can “train in meaningful relationships … teach the peace that comes with knowing the unconditional love of Jesus” … and ultimately “create homes that are missional lights in a dark world.”
What I hope readers will take away from this series:
If you’re a Christian who is considering public school for your kids or has kids in public school, I hope you leave encouraged by the possibilities, galvanized by the opportunity, and clear-eyed about the difficulties. I hope you feel fellowship with a vibrant, faithful cohort seeking redemption, especially if you’ve felt discouraged or uncertain over your choices.
If you’re a Christian who has chosen homeschool or private Christian school for your kids, I hope you come away with greater understanding of why other Christian families may choose differently. I hope you leave compelled to support those families and to remember that they are just as serious as you are in their desire to raise kids who trust God and follow Jesus. More generally, I hope you see the choice to send Christian kids to public school as an honorable one and not a lesser one, and to more readily turn away from media that stokes tribalism and fear. If you are already doing or feeling these things, that is wonderful :)
If you are not a Christian, I hope you take away a greater understanding of the perspectives, motivations, and priorities of your Christian neighbors, and that that understanding might lead to greater respect, for the good of every kid in our schools.
What will this series look like?
Over the last few weeks, I’ve interviewed six women I personally know and trust. They live in different parts of the country and have school-age kids who range from kindergartners to college freshmen. I asked them a series of questions, covering everything from why they’ve chosen public school and their favorite and most challenging parts to what faith formation looks like for their families. I’ll be presenting them to you in their own words – one woman per week – and I will wrap up the series by answering the same questions, as well.
I know this series is not everyone’s cup of tea. Perhaps it feels irrelevant to your life, you resent that I want to talk about it, or you wish that I would talk about it in a different way. Of course, you are more than welcome to skip these posts and stick around for the rest of the content you know and love, but I am deeply grateful for those who will choose to join for this conversation, no matter what your personal experience. It’s a topic I care about deeply and have thought about extensively, and that’s the kind of thing that I think is worth my time. I hope you feel the same way!
In the meantime, I’ll be back later this week with a completely unrelated topic :)