Thoughts on “Sheltering,” Teaching, and Indoctrination
Over the many years I was in the teaching ministry, both as a teacher and administrator, I had numerous parents tell me that our children in our Lutheran schools were “sheltered.” This was often followed by them expressing concern that their children would not transition as well into the public schools they would be attending after their elementary school years. In some instances, parents even pulled their kids as they were entering the junior high/middle school grades to put them in the public system, as they thought this would help better prepare them for what they termed “the real world.” Perhaps you have encountered similar situations.
After listening to their reasoning, my response to their statement that our students were being “sheltered” was “Great, I hope so!” I would then go on to explain that “sheltering” our students really isn’t “sheltering” but helping our children at these critical ages to develop their faith and a Christian biblical worldview that will equip them to deal with and respond to these parents’ view of what the “real world” is. I then encouraged them to enroll their students in our Lutheran high school if one was available. If not, I would recommend sending their son or daughter to another Christian high school.
Needless to say, this “sheltering” has become all the more important as the public school system has all too often become an institution that indoctrinates our children by teaching things that are the antithesis of what our God expects and has commanded us to teach. The adoption of many state school board standards which include the teaching of revisionist history, gender and sexual issues, abortion, and humanism, are but a few examples of this.
A trend that is related directly to these concerns would be that of homeschooling. Data collected over the past 20 years shows that homeschooling has almost doubled in this time period. In 1999, there were an estimated 850,000 children being homeschooled compared to 1,690,000 in 2016. (Data from Coalition for Responsible Home Education https://responsiblehomeschooling.org/research/summaries/homeschooling-numbers/.
By the fall of 2020, that number had spiked: 11.1 percent of households with school-age children reported homeschooling. The Census Bureau says that figure is twice the number of households that were homeschooling at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. That’s according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 12, an online survey that asks questions about how the pandemic is changing life in U.S. homes.
Unfortunately, there has been a decline in the percentage of children enrolled in private schools (which includes parochial schools) since 1964 while at the same time the percentage enrolled in public schools has increased. In 1964 15.5 percent of the total elementary (1-8) population, 17 percent of the kindergarten population, and 80.6 percent of the preschool (referred to as Nursery School in the data) population were enrolled in private schools. By 2019, these percentages were 8.7 percent elementary, 12.9 percent kindergarten, and 44.7 percent pre-school. (Data from the United States Census Bureau https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/school-enrollment/cps-historical-time-series.html) This, at a time when, more than ever, our children need the biblical worldview training and the teachings that our Lutheran schools offer!
There is a movement that intensified during the Covid shutdown of schools known as the Public School Exit (PSE). It is a growing coalition of Christians and conservatives working to make sure that once the crisis is over, millions of children don’t return to the public system. This coalition hopes to facilitate a massive exodus into safer settings of homeschooling and quality private schools. At the same time, the group is urging parents to closely examine the material public schools are using. Most parents are appalled when they find out what is being taught. (Illinois Family Institute Article “Amid Coronavirus, Movement for Public School Exit Grows” Written by Alex Newman https://illinoisfamily.org/education/amid-coronavirus-movement-for-public-school-exit-grows/)
Our churches likewise should make a concerted push to encourage and urge parents to leave the public schools and enroll in our Lutheran schools. Resources should be committed to doing so. This is the mission field that needs to be addressed now! As Martin Luther stated “I am much afraid that the schools will prove to be the great gates of hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures, and engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”
Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Deuteronomy 31:12-13 “Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”