Several years ago I challenged a speaker. I was attending a conservative political event, and this particular person said, “Our public schools are cesspools of liberal indoctrination, and if your child is attending a public school, you are a part of the problem. Pull them out!”
Many people in the audience applauded while my blood pressure started to rise. Pull them out? Really? Aren’t conservatives known to be advocates of school choice? My husband and I made a decision to send our kids to public school. As Christian conservatives, we knew what we were up against. We read the headlines. The anti-religious push, the progressive agenda, the political bias, and even the social agenda that pushed against our values as Christ followers. But this was our choice, and I could see the benefits of educating our children in this “cesspool of liberal indoctrination.”
So I introduced myself after the speech and said, “I want to challenge your words about public education. I am a conservative, and my kids attend public school. I have seen the benefits of my children challenged in their beliefs and challenging others who differ from them. How are we going to make an impact as conservatives if we all pull out of public education and don’t challenge this indoctrination?”
She immediately dismissed my remarks, and I could tell she didn’t want me to question her. She responded kindly, but she didn’t want to get into a discussion with me. I was a fellow conservative with a different opinion.
That’s an excellent example of where we are in our society. We want to stay in our comfortable circles of thought and belief. We don’t want to be challenged. We don’t want to debate and defend our beliefs. It’s uncomfortable to confront people who challenge us and who dare have another opinion that differs from our own.
When Thomas Jefferson chartered the University of Virginia in 1819, he wrote about his vision for what would be a great public institution. He remarked, “This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead, nor tolerate any error as long as reason is left free to combat it.”
Tomorrow my oldest graduates high school- Public High School! I am a firm believer and advocate of school choice. Education is about the freedom to choose what is right for your child. However, education is not conforming our children to thought circles where they are not challenged to reason outside of their beliefs.
I have witnessed public education become a cesspool of groupthink. Many times my kids have shared with us about the political bias of their teachers. Thomas Jefferson’s idea of illimitable freedom of the human mind has gotten way off track when a teacher will not even consider a difference of opinion in his or her classroom. One teacher even had the audacity to say, “Freedom of speech is not limitless because there is the importance of political correctness.”
I have witnessed this sociopolitical agenda in our public schools but I am here to say my kid made it. She graduates tomorrow, and she was challenged in her beliefs and has come out stronger because of it. Public education has forced her to see both sides. She’s had to reason and find the truth for herself, and has challenged others as well. I couldn’t be more proud of the person she has become. That testing of truth and reasoning is known as education. Pulling her out of public school was never the answer for us. It was about encouraging her to find her voice in a sea of opposing opinions. That’s not the choice for everyone but it was the choice for us.
My prayer for her is that she will continue to reason and test her opinions in an atmosphere of education where there is no fear of being challenged. Where reason is free to roam and truth –wherever it may lead- will open hearts and minds. That is the beauty of the human mind, and it’s what makes the freedom of education in this country so unique, if we have the courage to challenge and encourage the uncomfortable in our kids!