Private School Isn't Always Better

Gina wants to know what Dave thinks about private Christian education. When is an appropriate time to do it, and how does Dave feel about it?

QUESTION: Gina in Ohio wants to know what Dave thinks about private Christian education. When is an appropriate time to do it, and how does Dave feel about it? Dave says it’s sometimes essential, depending upon the school district and available options.

ANSWER: I think there are some situations that it’s absolutely essential, and that has to do with the school district that you’re in, the quality options that you have, and those kinds of things. Everybody is in a little different situation. To say that all public schools are evil would be ridiculous. All schools have kids in them.

I’ll tell you some observations I’ve made as an older dad. Our kids went—for a couple of years—to a private Christian school because we were all jacked up and concerned about the devil running the public school or something. Then we found out the devil was over there, too. It was just distressing. It turns out he’s everywhere, and he often works through people. We thought we had a protective cocoon thing going, and then we figured out we still have to parent. We’re still going to have to be very involved in educating our kids and teaching our kids to make sound judgments at all ages. If you’re looking for a protective cocoon, that’s an illusion that doesn’t exist. There is no such thing. You still have to parent. You still have to teach your kids.

If you’re looking at it from an academic standpoint, your results will vary from school to school. Some Christian schools have superior academic programs to the local public schools. Others have inferior programs when you look at the test scores and so forth—the number of kids who go on to college, the number of kids who are successful when they go on to college. Those are things that you look at.

Then you look at the quality of your public school. We happen to be in a county, which is the wealthiest county in our state, where the whole community is very Christian anyway. Our public school teachers are very likely to be attending church with us as much as our private school teachers in our particular area.

Our kids ended up doing their entire careers—with the exception of a couple of years—in public school. Did we have some disagreements? Oh, yeah, but they’re going to have disagreements, and you have to teach them to make judgments and have morals and values and take a stand and be a witness. I want to grow those kids into those kinds of things. Our kids had the opportunity to be salt several times and also be exposed to things that I’d rather they hadn’t been exposed to, but it’s good they learned how to handle them so that they don’t become overwhelmed when they actually hear somebody say something like “stupid.” We have a group of people who are so cocooned that they think “stupid” is a cuss word. This is the absurdity of my Christian brothers and sisters at times.

You’ve got to interact with the world. Scripture calls for that. But you don’t want to expose your children to harm or to an inferior academic setting. There’s a balance in there. If we lived in a situation where the public schools were a trash hole and the whole thing was a mess and people were shooting each other down the hallway or something, yeah, we’d make that call for safety.

I’m not going to make a blanket statement that I love all Christian schools; I don’t. Or that I hate all Christian schools; I don’t. I think you’ve got to weigh it out and use some wisdom looking at the overall situation. I meet people who make blanket statements that all private schools are better, and they’re just not.

The level of parental involvement in the school is more indicative of future test scores and the quality of the school than the amount of teacher pay or whether or not there’s a cross over the door. Parents have more to do with how their kids turn out than schools do. That’s my point.