As many Christians have observed, the impact from the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage last year will be felt for generations and across many aspects of our daily lives.
Our children’s education is one of those areas affected by the government’s legal recognition of same-sex marriage.
A few months ago here in the blog, Focus’ Education Analyst Candi Cushman helped us consider the impact the redefinition of marriage might have on public schools and students’ rights in those schools.
She shared with us that families can expect an erosion of their rights – parents’ rights to opt their kids out of sensitive topics concerning sexuality, family and marriage will be much more limited. Students’ free speech rights to express a biblical point of view are being similarly constricted.
How are parents responding?
Many are reevaluating their educational options in light of these unfortunate cultural developments. Here are some considerations for each.
1. Traditional public schools
Of course, many Christian parents have chosen to keep their kids in public school post-Obergefell. They’re used to their school, they might like the teachers, and their kids have friends there. Our advice to those parents is to stay vigilant and aware of your child’s unique needs to help them navigate the system.
“It’s a good idea to be proactive,” says Candi. “You might want to meet your children’s teachers and ask to see curriculums and lesson plans. We’ve outlined a Parents’ Bill of Rights to help moms and dads be effective advocates for their kids.”
We encourage Christian students in public schools to prayerfully consider exercising their rights, because that’s one critical way to help preserve them. For example, tomorrow students can make their voices heard by joining the thousands of other teens participating in the Day of Dialogue free speech event. I recently blogged about the effort, sharing five reasons why Christian students should consider holding a Day of Dialogue at their school.
2. Charter schools
Charter schools are popping up all over the country. Many parents appreciate the structure that gives them more direct input and ability to help shape the atmosphere than a typical public school. Our own boys attend an excellent school that would fall into this category.
For example, some charter schools employ a classical approach to education, “what centuries of Western leaders, including America’s founders, have considered necessary instruction for free men who govern themselves.” A classical education helps sidestep a lot of the new sexuality politics found in many traditional schools.
Parents with kids in charter schools should remember that with greater freedom comes more responsibility. Charter schools are held accountable to certain standards and can be closed down if they don’t perform well. Also, charter schools are still a form of public education, so parents would be wise to remain vigilant.
3. Faith-based private schools
Private Christian schools are one way parents can help provide their children an education that doesn’t run contrary to the morals and values they learn at home.
That commitment to biblical values has come at a high price for some Christian private schools. A few schools have gone to court to defend their right to abide by their biblical beliefs by removingstaff who don’t abide by the morality clauses in their contract, for example.
An obvious disadvantage to private education is the high cost involved. Especially during economic downturns, high tuition is prohibitive for many families.
However, it’s a choice that might seem daunting to some parents. That’s why we encourage families considering homeschooling to take advantage of co-ops and support groups cropping up in cities across the nation. These programs help families teach tough subjects and provide kids with academic and social opportunities. Some school districts also offer specialized enrichment programs to homeschoolers.
Parents who homeschool might also want to have a membership with an established organization like Homeschooling Legal Defense Fund to help them navigate challenges that could come their way.
I realize we face some difficult challenges regarding the future of education in this country, but I’m also encouraged by some hopeful signs. The concept of school choice is growing, giving parents more options for their families. One innovative approach we’re excited about is the rise of education savings accounts.
ESAs redirect a portion of the funding the state would have spent on a child in the public school system to an education savings account, from which parents can then pay for private school tuition, homeschooling expenses, and a variety of other educational options. ESAs keep power in the hands of the family, helping them choose the best educational environment for their kids.
Whatever education option you ultimately choose for your child, know that Focus on the Family is here to help. We believe parents are best equipped to make the right choices for their children, and we strive to equip moms and dads with the information they need to make those choices.
Here are some of our online resources regarding education:
- Our True Tolerance website helps parents who are concerned about controversial sexual topics being brought up in school. It includes a Parents’ Bill of Rights and an action center with a model parental rights policy you can send to your school officials.
- Our School Choice Series
- An online series that goes more in depth on the education pros and cons for families
And like I referred to earlier, tomorrow’s Day of Dialogue is a good option for public school students who want to exercise their free speech right to share a biblical perspective on important cultural issues.
I’d like to hear from you: what schooling option are you using for your family? Have you been concerned about the impact same-sex marriage has on your child’s education? Let me know in the comments.