Public education has a long, auspicious history in the United States. However, in recent years, public schools have come under growing criticism due to their secular, “morally neutral” character. As a result, there has been an increase in Christian schools as well as a renewed interest in home schooling. Alternatively, other parents have chosen to assume responsibility, together with the church, for training in Christian world view and to encourage their children to live their faith while acquiring their education in the public schools.
Feelings on what are appropriate for the Christian family run deep and there is no one position that prevails within the evangelical community. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), therefore, calls upon Christian families to carefully consider all relevant factors touching the education and schooling of their children.
NAE affirms that education is not simply pouring facts into a mind. It is a lifelong endeavor which involves building understandings, perspectives, values and life skills through direct experience, personal processing of information, social interaction and inner struggle. The success of these learning processes depends on the readiness of the student to grow, as well as the quality of the education offered.
The home, church and school all play important educational roles. Clearly both the church and family are responsible for communicating Christ and Christian values, the foundation on which all learning will build. Furthermore, the positive witness of Christian families and the broader family of the church ideally will complement what is learned in school. However, we live in a world where the “ideal” and the “reality of life” are rarely synonymous.
Schools, whether public or private, are not all of equal quality. Before enrolling a child in any school, parents must explore the school’s educational philosophy and environment and decide, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, how to best fulfill their responsibility to raise their children in the nurture of the Lord. We urge honest consideration of the following:
1. The quality of the education offered;
2. The perspective or world view expressed in that education;
3. The specific needs of each child–the ways the home, church and school can work together to help the child mature in faith;
4. The best methods for Christian teachers, parents and students to serve as salt and light in a needy world;
5. Whether the decision reflects the practice of good stewardship of time and financial resources.
NAE recognizes that parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children.
In support of all parents seeking to make good decisions regarding the schooling of their children, NAE affirms the responsibility and right of parents to choose the educational options most consistent with their religious conscience and best suited for their children. We further affirm the importance of mutual respect between parents whose views on schooling may differ and NAE encourages all Christian parents to develop a Christian world view and life style and to disciple their children in that view.