Family Times: Home-school Resources & Reviews for Christians

Staying in the Public Schools to Influence Them

Some people claim that we should leave our children in the public schools so we can have a good influence on the schools. They assume that, because we have left the public schools, we are doing nothing to improve them. I like to remind folks that one of the best ways to improve a bad system is to leave it and tell folks why! This concept fits both the Bible and our American free enterprise system.

When I get terrible service from a business, what do I do? Keep going there in hopes I can "influence them for good"? No, if I really object to what they are doing, I take my business elsewhere, and tell them why I am doing it. Often that is the very best thing I can do to influence them to change.

This is especially important where the well-being of my children is involved. I am telling the public schools, in the way they hear best that, until they clean up their act so they deserve my children, they cannot have them.

As long as I keep sending my kids to the public schools, people are much less likely to listen to my criticisms. When I get serious enough to leave the system, people know I mean what I say. In fact, that is why so many people feel intimidated by home schoolers, even before we say anything critical of the public schools. They know by our actions that we disapprove of the public schools. This is also why the NEA and such groups are so strongly opposed to home schooling.

This is also a Biblical principle. We teach by what we do, not just what we say. There are degrees of problems in almost every organization we are involved in: businesses, government, schools, charities, and churches. It is not easy to decide that we object so strongly to what is being done that we are going to leave. And we cannot always say, in all these situations, exactly when others must leave. But the point is that "voting with our feet" makes a statement like nothing else we can do.

So, do I feel "guilty" that my kids are not in the public schools and that I am no longer working to improve the public schools from "inside the system"? Absolutely not. I believe in many ways I am doing more to improve the public schools than people who are "in the system." I am working to improve the competition! And competition is what, in the long run, is the only thing that will save the public school system ... if in fact it is possible to save it.

Conservative columnist and economist Thomas Sowell has been quoted as saying: "Anything that allows children to escape from disastrous public schools is a benefit, not only to those children and to society, but eventually even to the public schools themselves" (quoted by Charles and Betty Burger in the Homeschoolers' Section of the Conservative Book Club reviews, p. HS24).

-- David Pratte


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