NEWS FROM THE CENTER FRIDAY DIGEST August 6, 2021 - Educational Choice: It’s not “choice” it’s Your Opportunity, Your Responsibility

It’s back to school time in America. That used to be a joyous occasion. Remember the days when teachers would send home “supply” lists of things that students needed to prepare them for the rigors of learning reading, writing, and arithmetic? Remember your children getting their textbooks which helped them critically think, do math and geometry, and learn science and religion so as to become the adults that our culture needed to carry on the experiment of virtuously living “free” lives faithfully and rigorously for the sake of the next generation?


Do you remember the days of “helping” your children with their homework? Do you remember trying to refresh your math skills, your writing skills, or your geography knowledge? It was kind of fun. Not anymore. This past year, public schools more often than not tried not to educate our kids. That was bad enough, but even worse was finding out what they are teaching our children when they are. From the sexualizing of grade-schoolers,[1] to racializing education,[2] and the overall secularizing of education which asserts that there are no moral foundations to learning, parents can’t be certain of what their children are actually being taught. In one book, Get Out Now, two public school teachers lament that sending your children to today’s public schools is a sure, fast way to assure that students don’t have the values of their parents when they graduate. In several issue around the country, school boards, union leaders, and others instructed teachers to withhold or even hide radical teachings from the parents.[3] What to do?

Today, parents must reassert and, in some instances, reclaim the inherent authority that they have for the sake of raising their children (and that includes education). We have the “choice,” actually, we have the responsibility for doing that and no school board, school union, or government official can take that away. I remember trying to instill that to the parents of my confirmands when I was a pastor. Even something as important as instilling “the faith” was not primarily my responsibility (Oh, I had my vital role.), it was ultimately theirs. Traditionally in the past, the parents instructed their children and the pastor confirmed them in the faith (now, more often, the pastor both teaches and confirms). Why? Because “training up a child in the way that they should go” (Prov. 22:6) is the first and most primary responsibility of being a parent.

When it comes to education in general, parental choice/responsibility, means that we need to know what is being taught our children. We have a right, no, a responsibility to that end. All education is conducted within a moral, philosophical worldview, and parents have a right/responsibility to see to it that such things are done faithfully with what is most precious to us, our children. If that means petitioning school boards, so be it. If that means running for school boards, get to it. But increasingly those school boards are able to thwart the disciplining requests of the parents of students. In some cases, they are actively fighting to keep concerned parents in the dark. That’s why, at this moment in history, it’s time to fight for parental choice in education. It’s the only way to finally, once and for all, assure that excellence in education is rooted where it belongs, in the lives of the parents who are the final arbiters of education for their children.

With parental choice, the “choice” for where one’s educational dollars go, is back in the hands of the parents. Parental choice, not school choice, means that the government has no ultimate authority as to what is taught in those schools. “Parental Choice” assures parents of all economic circumstances, of all ethnicities, that they will indeed have the resources to give their children a quality education of THEIR CHOOSING.  If school boards won’t listen, if unions wish to do whatever they please even against a majority of parents’ wishes, parents will have the choice, better, the responsibility to take their educational dollars elsewhere. Then, and only then will issues of sex education, dress codes, pronoun usage, who uses what bathroom, and what locker room is available to whom, not be a political football; it’s properly again a parental issue for one’s own child. And, truth be told, at the very least, a virtue-based, moral-based education is what our children need now more than ever. We, especially as Christian parents, need to reclaim that authority and exercise that mandate for our children and our grandchildren.

Educational freedom is a cultural need whose time has come. Our children need a moral-based, virtue-instilling education[4] to be prepared to make it in this world. The “one size fits all” view of education isn’t working today: it’s actually working against us in many cases! Let’s bring more voices and more parents, teachers, and leaders to the discussion table, not less. It matters for the sake of our communities, families, and our churches. Good education matters and it starts with us as parents. It’s our choice; it’s our responsibility.

The Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz is the executive director of The Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty.

Be Informed

What happened in 1550 that has informed Lutherans’ political resistance? Dr. Ryan MacPherson explains.

Be Equipped

Where does The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod stand on same-sex relationships? Click here to learn more.


Be Encouraged

“Our youth are a gift of God—our future voice and our For Life voice, now! Take a moment and read Titus 2 and ponder Paul’s teaching in light of Proverbs 1:5: ‘Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.’ Then invite, encourage, and mentor youth in your circle today.” --Rev. Jeff Duncan, Mission and Ministry Director, Lutherans For Life

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[4] Of course, Christians want a “Christ-centered, Gospel motivated” education for their children. But parental choice is a movement for all parents to reclaim their role in the education of their children. Let each school, public, private, or parochial, fight for the chance to educate OUR children.

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