So You Think Education is “Free”

One of the hurdles to private education for many families is the cost of tuition, especially when there is a “free” alternative that is so accessible: public education paid for by tax dollars. I won’t belabor the point of the actual cost of public education, with our own state of Michigan spending well over $13 billion on K-12 education, which does not include all of the federal programs and grants, and private funding that is part of the picture. But just how free is that education?

I often hear from parents that they are happy that child is in a public school because their child’s teacher is a Christian, as if that alone nullifies the relativism, sex education, and revamping of history that their child is exposed to. Indeed, there are many Christian school teachers across the country in the classrooms of our public schools. But are they free? No. They are not free to express or discuss their faith, free to pray with their students, or free to read their Bible in their classes. They are not free to discuss the unfathomable brilliance of the Creator when teaching about DNA. They are not free to talk about imago Dei when teaching art. They are not free to talk about sexual purity and teach students that we should present our bodies as living sacrifices to our Father in heaven. They are not even free to start with the simple disciplinary principle of loving your neighbor as yourself – at least, not if they’re going to say who said it.

Again, how “free” is this education? At what price, notwithstanding tax dollars, are we going to continue to hand over children to the educrats who are telling parents to sit down and be quiet, because they are the experts? Universal preschool will become universal daycare. Federal breakfast and lunch programs will become federal dinner programs. (An aside: in our pre-adoption education, my husband and I learned the importance of being the sole providers of food to our newly adopted daughters. Children bond emotionally and psychologically to those who feed them. Draw your own conclusions on why the government seems so anxious to give children food.) The State will replace the family. I wonder how long before the federal government will introduce a government shoe program. After laptops and other internet-ready devices being provided, backpacks, and school supplies, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already.

Where are the lessons on personal responsibility? When did collaboration and interdependence subvert the virtue of individual hard work? What about liberty? What about valor? What about sacrifice? When did we let common sense become hijacked by ridiculous notions of charging a first-grade child with sexual harassment for kissing the hand of a classmate?

What kind of “free” have we become accustomed to settling for? Parents – and not even many teachers – no longer have any say on curriculum choices. Common Core State Standards have made education more restrictive, exacting the parent from the process and most of the teachers. Not only are literature classes now required to use non-fiction texts for at least 50% of the material, but the days spent on preparing for and taking standardized test has ballooned to more than 10 days during the school year. In a recent article, “Peonage for the Twenty-First Century,” Providence College English Professor, Anthony Ensolen, writes, “[T]he promotors of Common Core do not consider that the parents are their employers. The parents have had and are to have nothing to say about it. They are ‘good’ if they submit, and ‘problematic’ if they don't. Any land in which parents, singly or in groups, do not have first and last authority over what and how their children learn is not free.”

If a “free” education is what you are looking for, perhaps a private school is a better bargain after all.

In His service and for His glory—RG

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