Conservative Christians should back public schools

07/09/2014 5:45 PM

07/09/2014 5:46 PM

With the governor’s race before us, we are hearing about many candidates and their view on public education. I’ll share mine.

I am a pastor, a theologically conservative, evangelical pastor. Now that you know that, you probably have formed all kinds of stereotypical ideas about how I view the world.

You might believe that I think our public education system is broken beyond repair, and that I support what would defund public schools by offering tax credits or “vouchers” to those who choose some alternative.

If you think that about me, you would be wrong.

It is unfortunate that conservative Christians get lumped into a category of people who do not like public education, when there are many of us who are willing to defend and support public schools.

My wife and I have chosen to educate our children in public schools. The diversity of programs, classes, and extracurricular opportunities available in most public schools are unmatched.

My second-grade son is in a bilingual class. I do not know of a private school in our area that offers this type of opportunity.

In two years, we will enroll our daughter in public kindergarten because we believe public schools provide the best education for our children.

But I don’t choose public schools just for the sake of my children. I choose public schools because I believe in the education of all children.

My wife and I both volunteer at my son’s school. Many students at my son’s school do not have much home support. I want to stand to help them.

What would happen if other well-educated parents made the same decision? Would the so-called achievement gap shrink just a little?

I often hear from well-meaning Christians that they have chosen something other than public school for their children because they are afraid of what their child will be taught (in science) or afraid of how they will be influenced by peers.

There is a part of me that is sympathetic to that way of thinking.

The problem is that kind of decision-making is unbiblical. Throughout the Bible when people made decisions that were motivated by fear, it was always the wrong one.

Jesus said that we are to go into the world. He said that we are to feed the hungry and clothe those who have none.

There may be no greater mission than the one that is found in our local public school. We cannot deny the potential impact.

So before you judge me because of who I am, know that I stand for all children and families in Texas, not just those who live in my neighborhood or go to my church.

The Rev. Bill Stewart is the lead pastor of Journey Church in Fort Worth.

Twitter: @pbillstewart

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