2021 | Week of March 22 | Radio Transcript #1404
In a recent conversation with a Wisconsin youth pastor, one of our team members asked what kinds of questions teens are asking today. This youth pastor said, “They are questioning whether God is real—and if He is real, is He really a good God and worth the price that, in their opinion, they are having to pay to follow Him.” He elaborated about these teens, most of whom come from middle to upper-middle-class Christian homes and go to public schools: “Their peers see Christianity as anti—anti just about everything. They view Christians as hateful, bigoted, homophobic and discriminatory, in addition to backwards and ignorant. That’s hard for kids to take.”
There’s a lot in this youth pastor’s response to think about and pay attention to; but given where we are in the year in Wisconsin, it’s important to explore one of my first reactions to this information.
Among my first reactions was to say for starters parents need to get their kids out of public schools. Public schools today do absolutely nothing to encourage Christian kids; to the contrary, they much too often indoctrinate kids with liberal, unbiblical ideas from the youngest grades up. If Christianity is mentioned, it’s most likely in a negative, derogatory way which feeds the idea that being a Christian is reprehensible and even dangerous for society. Christians are made to be the personification of all the negative things the kids are questioning.
Expecting Christian teens to be able to thrive and grow in this type of environment is unrealistic at best. At some point, every Christian family has to weigh the cost and the risk of choosing public schools as their partner in the formal education of their children.
As I’ve said frequently, God holds parents responsible for the education of their children. This is not a responsibility they can abdicate. Yes, they can choose a partner to help in this area, but whether the partner wildly succeeds or abjectly fails, God still holds parents responsible.
Considering that truth and the questions kids are asking today about their faith, exploring educational options just makes sense. We are blessed in Wisconsin to have numerous educational choices for parents and their children. Of course, we have traditional public, government-run, taxpayer-funded schools. Within these public schools we have open enrollment where parents can apply to have their children attend a public school outside the district where they live. We also have charter schools, which while having different boards and often different emphases, such as classical or STEM or fine arts, are still funded exclusively with taxpayer funding.
Also under the public-school umbrella are virtual charter schools—public school done at home using private programs paid for by taxpayer monies and still very much under the auspices and regulations of public schools.
Outside the public-school structure, we have what is commonly referred to as “the voucher program.” This voucher program allows lower-income parents to choose a participating private school, religious or secular, for their children. This program has allowed thousands of students to flourish in schools that better fit their academic needs and in many cases their spiritual needs.
Recently, we have also added virtual voucher programs to this school choice. For instance, Academy of Excellence, a Milwaukee-based Christian school, offers a virtual voucher option to students statewide.
In addition, Wisconsin also offers traditional private schools and as well has a great home-school law that has served interested parents very well since 1983.
The deadline for most of these options is coming soon. For instance, April 15 is the deadline for applying for a voucher. Information and details are available at chooseyourschoolwi.org. We urge parents to check out the options.
For sure where a child goes to school isn’t the only factor in whether or not his or her faith is significantly challenged. But parents can mitigate some of the attacks, doubts and questions and can even build up their child’s Christian faith by choosing educational partners that at a minimum don’t disparage and tear down their beliefs. It’s all part of taking seriously the responsibility God has given parents to educate their children.
For Wisconsin Family Council, this is Julaine Appling reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”