“Failing Christian Schools, Christian Teachers, Christian Students?”


Who Is To Teach the Poor?

Jesus said that we would always have the poor, but I ask then, “Whose responsibility is it to educate the poor?”  Often the poor remain in their economic state because they cannot or do not take the opportunity to be educated.  At the public middle school where I teach, we just showed our 8th graders the video Separate But Equal about Brown vs. the Board of Education lawsuit and the unanimous Supreme Court decisions that ushered in integration in the late ‘60’s.  In the Bible belt South, Whites, who were Christians, did not believe it was their duty to educate the Negro; in fact during the height of slavery it was even forbidden because, at least, they recognized the power of education.  In this country, because the Church was unwilling to educate the poor, the responsibility has fallen on secular government to meet the need through our public school system.  Again, because of lack of action and not meeting its responsibility, the Church has given up its influence in society to the local secular governing body.

So I ask again, “Whose responsibility is it to educate the poor?”

Christian or parochial schools in America do not function on “the Great Commission” principle of “going out” or even “reaching out” as it has adopted a “separate and proud of it” mentality. Quoting that we need to be “in the world, but not part of it” rather than “the Great Commission”, the gospel is not going out into public schools like it could be, thus the Church is failing in its calling.  The Church does not look at public schools as a field ready for harvest, which it is, for it is filled with thousands of students needing a Savior, needing directions, needing love and acceptance.  Public school administrators look at “religious” groups as complaining, dissatisfied, a threat, and possible law suits rather than as “servants” aiding in the education process.  

Christian schools can be dogma centers for their local religious persuasion.  Because I believe in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the evidence of speaking in tongues, I cannot teach at our local Christian School because the leaders have written it into their bylaws.  As scary as it may be to a public school administrator if I began rattling off tongues instead of Shakespeare, the issue of speaking in tongues is not a prerequisite or a term for not hiring me in the public school. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit actually gave me more love for the lost, more compassion for the hurting, more drive to fulfill the “Great Commission” in a public school setting, making me be more “salt” and “light” to a bland and dark world, and because of it I have become a better teacher, reaching out my faith in a secular setting!

Like our churches, Christian schools invite people “in” to their buildings and society norms and rules, not reaching “out” as the “Great Commission” commands.  If a student doesn’t follow the Christian school’s moral codes, he is dropped and returned to public school who is forced to deal with what the church could not do as an educational institution.  Many look at public schools as “failing” schools filled with “failing teachers”, but I contend that if a student can’t see the love of Jesus and the compassion of Jesus toward him in a Christian school filled with Christian teachers and Christian students who are taught about “missions”, Christ’s love, and the “Great Commission”, then Christian schools are “failing schools”, Christian teachers are “failing teachers”, Christian students are “failing students” in what is most important to their Christian faith and heritage, sharing Christ’s love to the lost!

Politically, “vouchers” are the answer to the “conservative, religious, right” politician, because it would funnel more money, originally marked for public education, into religious institutions if the student and his parents choose to do so.  But is Christian education about receiving more money to build a bigger institution, or about reaching out to the poor student from a dysfunctional family with no direction or purpose who will probably challenge authority figures and break the Christian school’s moral codes in his rebellion, only to be expelled and sent “back” to the educational field they tried to flee?

So I ask again, “Whose responsibility is it to educate the poor?”