I am not a Star Trek fan, but an episode caught my eye last night as I was flipping channels. LieutenantWorf had accidentally slipped through some hole in the time-space continuum and needed to get back to his reality where his son was waiting for him. Now, I grew up in the eighties. I have seen Back to the Future countless times, so I totally get the fact that the time-space continuum is not to be messed with. Whether we like it or not, the choices that we make today do affect the future, ours and everyone else’s. If we aren’t careful, we could accidentally jeopardize the well-being of our loved ones, present and future. We could even give the enemy a leg up without meaning to. On that topic, my thoughts turn for the hundredth time to a student who told me last week they would be moving to a private Christian school very soon. Although the announcement made me very sad, I get it. At least, I think I do. I have many friends whose children are either home-schooled or attend private Christian school. As I understand it, in each case some or most of the following factors played a big role in those parents’ decision to seek alternative schooling for their children: safety, quality of education, social influence, curriculum, family time, children with special needs, and flexibility. If those friends are reading, I apologize if I missed any of the reasons you have stated. While I don’t agree with every criticism that I have heard about public schools, I admit that many are valid to varying degrees, depending on the specific school system being discussed. However, as a public school teacher whose children both attend public school, I am tempted to answer such criticisms with an extensive list of the benefits of public education. I am also tempted to raise questions of my own concerning alternative schooling, but I don’t and won’t because I want to avoid the whole “Which is best, home-schooling, Christian school, or public school?” debate. The only reason I am bringing up education now is to ask a simple question. What would public school be like today if no Christian family had ever pulled out of it? What if, instead of withdrawing, those early parents had resolved to influence the world through education, taking leadership positions within the public school system as teachers, administrators, volunteers, committee members, and board members? Would those who currently feel compelled to home-school or send their children to private Christian school even feel the need to do so? I don’t think so, not if the Christian kids that I have had in class are any indication. For the most part, they are brave young men and women of integrity, imperfect, as we all are, but correctable and eager to be a part of what God is doing in the lives of the non-Christian kids around them. You know, I wonder sometimes what it would be like if the many home-schooled and private Christian school kids in our area were to suddenly enroll in the surrounding public schools. The thought gives me chills, and I imagine the relief that my Christian students would feel would not be unlike that of weary soldiers when new troops arrive. Of course I can’t speak to that reality for sure. I’ve not lived it. But, I wish I could.
In fact, I wish I had a DeLorean like Doc Brown’s so I could go back in time and talk to the first Christian families that ever pulled out of public schools. I would try to change their minds so that I could return to what I believe would be a better, stronger United States of America, where Christian kids made up a large percentage of the student population and no one had taken prayer out of schools or Bible verses out of textbooks. On the other hand, if I did have a DeLorean, I’d be tempted to peek into the future, and I don’t think I want to see the world my grandchildren will live in if Christian families continue to withdraw from public school, the place where most of the next generation are actively forming their opinions, developing their convictions, and becoming who they will someday be. One thing is for sure, DeLorean or not, time is passing, and, sooner than we think, we will arrive together in the future we have created. Keeping that in mind, may we be ever so careful and prayerful in making decisions for our families that have the potential to affect others. Let’s not give the enemy a leg up without meaning to.