Category archives: Education

Radical Progressive Ideology Has Become Normalized in Schools. It’s Time to Act.

by Meg Kilgannon

September 23, 2021

Revelations of radical activism by a teacher in California with an Antifa flag in his classroom and marking student’s papers using stamps with images of communist leaders roiled Sacramento area parents. In a shocking and at times profane 12 minute video, Inderkum High School AP Government teacher Gabriel Gipe explained that he has “180 days to turn [students] into revolutionaries.” When a student anonymously complained about the Antifa flag in his classroom, Comrade Gipe admonished his students by explaining that the flag “is meant to make fascists feel uncomfortable, so if you feel uncomfortable, I don’t really know what to tell you. Maybe you shouldn’t be aligning with the values that this [Antifa flag] is antithetical to.”

While this example is shocking, it comes as no surprise. As we outline in our new publication, A Concerned Citizen’s Guide to Engaging with Public Schools, civics and history as academic subjects are under assault by left-wing political operations that masquerade as education policy organizations. Progressive thinking is so pervasive in our nation’s colleges and universities that it has seeped down to our elementary, middle, and high schools. Programs and resources like the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance/Learning for Justice, the New York Times and Pulitzer Center’s 1619 Project, Black Lives Matter at School, and the Zinn Project are far too ideological to be used as resources in public schools.

And yet, it is much easier to find those materials in your local public school than it is to find resources that honor America’s founding documents, our nation’s founders, and the important rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, including religious freedom. Programs like 1776 Unites (a project of the Woodson Center), the Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum, and the Bill of Rights Institute provide resources that educate students about the promise of America without ignoring difficult topics like slavery and segregation.

As we documented in our publication The SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance, an organized incursion into schools has been underway for decades. Efforts to influence and indoctrinate future teachers during their college years seem to be paying off for progressives. This is why parents and concerned citizens must act to engage public school systems to demand accountability and educational excellence—without political agendas. Radical progressive ideology has become so normalized in educational spaces that extreme content is no longer recognized as controversial. Teachers like Comrade Gipe can harangue students and turn them into political agitators, and it all seems completely normal to his coworkers and students. Clearly, Christian witness is needed urgently in our nation’s schools.

Pray about this and prepare to engage. Discuss these issues with your family and friends. Be unafraid to share the solutions to these problems that Christ’s love and the gospels offer. If you are a parent, meet each of your children’s teachers and make sure your children talk to you about their assignments and school activities. For those able to be more engaged, attend local school board meetings and take notes. Run for your local school board so that common sense can prevail over the one-sided thinking in place now. We live in the greatest nation on earth, the beacon of hope for the world. Let’s make America’s school systems as exceptional as our nation. Our children, entrusted to us by God, deserve our very best.

So You’ve Decided to Homeschool – Now What?

by Abigail Ross

August 31, 2021

After hours of consideration, prayer, and discussion, you decided, “Yes. I’m going to do it. I’m going to homeschool my children.” If this is you, you’re not alone. American homeschooling households have more than doubled since 2020. Why? For many parents, the COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity to evaluate what America’s public schools have been teaching their children—and it’s terrifying. Radical sex education, LGBT ideologies, and critical race theory are some of the progressive ideas being pressed upon schoolchildren. After realizing what public schools are including in their curricula, many parents are refusing to sit back and let their children be indoctrinated. But that’s not the only reason parents are deciding to homeschool.

Deuteronomy 6:7 commands parents to teach their children about the Lord. The Bible teaches that parents are to be the chief disciple-makers in their home. This obligation takes on added significance when you consider research from George Barna demonstrating that a person’s worldview starts developing between 15 to 18 months and is set by 13. Homeschooling allows parents to choose curricula grounded in God’s truth.

Homeschooling allows parents freedom over their child’s education. The best structured education is one that meets the needs of each individual child; homeschooling allows parents to tailor the content and method of teaching to best fit their child. You are the expert on your child, and schooling them at home is an incredible opportunity for your child to learn from the teacher who knows them best—you.

Making the decision to homeschool is the first step in a wonderful journey. Those first couple of steps, however, can be overwhelming. But have no fear. Take it one day at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be well on your way as a homeschooling parent. What follows are a few tips to keep in mind as you get started.

Know and Follow the Legal Requirements

The first consideration when getting started with homeschooling is to research your state’s homeschooling laws. Each state has different legal requirements for homeschooling. For example, some states require parents to notify the state of their intent to homeschool and submit their curricula. Some states may even require educational qualifications for homeschooling parents, while others have little or no formal requirements. The Homeschool Legal Defense Agency (HSLDA) has an interactive state map that lists the legal requirements, information on withdrawing from public school, and other resources for each state. Researching your state’s requirements should be done as early as possible, as some states require parents to declare their intent to homeschool by a certain date. Once the decision to homeschool is finalized (in your house and in the eyes of the state), then it’s time to plan the logistics of your new classroom.

Find a Community

One of the most common pieces of advice veteran homeschooling parents give new homeschooling families is to connect with other homeschooling families. These families have been in your shoes and can share their experiences and what they have learned. Ask around and see if there’s a homeschooling family at your church. Join local homeschooling social media groups. Research homeschool groups or co-ops in your area and reach out to them. The Homeschool Mom has a useful search tool to find local homeschool groups in your state. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do this alone. In fact, it’s best not to. Be intentional about building community. Relationships with other families can be one of the most beneficial and rewarding aspects of homeschooling. These families can help you navigate the legal requirements, plan, and give you insider knowledge of local resources or activities. Beyond the sharing of knowledge, connecting with other families establishes a support system and fosters friendships between both parents and children.

Develop a Vision

Now it’s time to dive into the details. How will your day look? First, think broadly and develop a vision. Ask yourself, what do you hope to accomplish by homeschooling? Start with why you decided to homeschool in the first place. Your vision will guide the decisions you make with planning and teaching. Ask yourself, “How does my child best learn?” “What environment is most conducive to learning for my child?” With your answers in mind, think through the best way to organize your school day. Some families choose to use a specific method (or several methods) of homeschooling. There are several different methods of homeschooling. Existing methods can be a helpful resource, but homeschooling also allows parents to organize their days in the way that works best for their family. If one method doesn’t work for your family, then try another. Ultimately, homeschooling is about educating your child in the way that works best for them, so be flexible and willing to try something different. Continuously go back to your “why,” your vision. Let your educational choices flow from that vision.

Select Curricula

As a homeschool parent, you have the autonomy to create your own curricula or to outsource. There is a vast amount of homeschool curricula available, including textbooks, teacher-led courses with daily lessons, and classes offered online or in person. 

Researching curricula can be overwhelming, as there are so many different options available. Use resources to narrow it down. Ask other families which curriculum they love. Research online. Cathy Duffy Reviews provides reviews of homeschool curriculum and is a great resource to help pare down all the options. HSLDA also has a list of free or inexpensive homeschool curriculum.

Keep in mind—if something isn’t working, you have the power to change it. As a parent, you are the expert on your child. Homeschooling gives you the unique opportunity to customize your child’s learning to challenge them in areas in which they excel and to provide additional support in areas where they may struggle. Know that you don’t need to be constrained by the grade number printed on the cover of a textbook. Choose curricula that will work for your child, in whatever stage they’re in.

Make a Plan for Success 

Planning encompasses looking long-term and thinking through the year, as well as daily lesson plans. Set aside time before the school year to plan out the pacing of your year. Setting goals and checkpoints throughout the year is a great way to stay on track. Build in breaks, vacations, and time for field trips. Map out generally where you want to be. Then begin planning your school days. You can plan a month in advance, a week in advance, or even the morning of. Begin by determining how your day-to-day will look. Will you study subjects in the same order each day? Will you dedicate x amount of time to each subject? Or will you go lesson by lesson? Then write out what you hope to accomplish each day and how. Use a planner, calendar, or to-do list with your child. This visually shows them what they will be accomplishing that day.

Something to keep in mind as you plan and begin schooling—give yourself grace. Your home is unique, and your children are each unique. It might take some time to get into a rhythm. Some days they’ll be hyper-focused and accomplish everything on their to-do list by lunch. Other days, they might struggle to get through one lesson. It’s okay. Some days, life lessons are just as important as school lessons. So, take it one day at a time.

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. There will be days when your home is filled with happiness, your children diligently accomplish their schoolwork, and they love learning. And there will be days when you want nothing more than to stop homeschooling. In those moments, allow grace for yourself and your children. If a negative pattern emerges, try something new. Each child is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another. As their parent, you’re the most qualified person to determine what your child’s needs are and how to meet them.

Remember that homeschooling is a season. Some families homeschool their children through high school. For others, their homeschooling season may only last a year or less. And that’s okay. Embrace this season while you’re in it. You won’t always be able to monitor what your children are learning. Take this opportunity to help build their foundation.

Under your tutelage, your child can learn the precepts of a biblical worldview. Teach them first and foremost about Jesus Christ. Be encouraged that you are practically fulfilling God’s command to parents in Genesis 6:5-7 (ESV), which says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Homeschooling is a wonderful opportunity. Pray and ask the Lord if homeschooling is right for your family. Talk with your family. Talk to other homeschooling families. If this is what you’re being called to, then welcome to the beginning of your homeschooling journey. 

Abby Ross is digital content editor at Family Research Council. She was homeschooled through high school and is a certified high school English teacher.

How the “Infrastructure” Bill Is a Trojan Horse for a Leftist Social Agenda

by Family Research Council

August 6, 2021

The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure “deal” that is being floated in Congress right now is very bad news. It not only increases the national budget deficit (which has already ballooned to three times the level seen in 2019), but it also contains a “poison pill” that advances an aggressive leftist agenda on marriage and human sexuality. It is effectively a steppingstone to achieving the Equality Act’s ultimate goal—a total overhaul of our federal civil rights framework to mandate special privileges based on “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI).

Congressional Democrats are pairing this infrastructure “deal” with an additional piece of legislation championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—a $3.5 trillion bill that reportedly includes the following items from the Left’s wish list:

  • Universal pre-Kindergarten, which would take children out of parents’ care and enroll them in public education even earlier.
  • Free two-year community college for everyone, including illegal immigrants, which would further incentivize academic institutions over personalized choices for successful career paths.
  • $1.6 billion for teacher certification programs that can be used to exclude any teachers that do not want to promote Critical Race Theory and gender ideology.
  • A nationally-mandated paid leave program that allows employees to take paid leave for almost any reason given, rather than for specific family reasons like caring for a newborn child or taking care of an elderly parent. A national mandate on paid leave may also disincentivize employers to offer their own more flexible parental leave plans that fit their employee’s needs.
  • A permanent expansion of Affordable Care Act subsidies that will directly fund health plans that cover abortion.
  • The potential for either a public option or a side-by-side Medicaid program that will sidestep the Hyde Amendment and fund abortions directly with taxpayer dollars. (See frc.org/families to learn about our concerns with Biden’s anti-family plan.)

Many of the specifics contained in the infrastructure bill and the Sanders bill were released back in the spring as part of one comprehensive $4 trillion economic plan that President Biden positioned as one of his signature progressive priorities. It was released in two parts:

  1. The American Jobs Plan totaling $2.3 trillion, released March 31
  2. The American Families Plan totaling $1.78 trillion, released April 28

From the outset, all of the polices in these two bills have been sold as one comprehensive plan to “build back better.” As these plans got worked into legislation, most of the American Jobs Plan ended up in the current infrastructure “deal.” Then, all of the Families Plan, the remaining parts of the Jobs Plan, and some additional proposals were swept into the $3.5 trillion reconciliation blueprint the Senate has committed to take up immediately after passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

President Biden and Democrat congressional leadership are hoping to pass as much of the president’s $4 trillion policy dream from the spring and whatever other liberal goodies are feasible. Whether that comes in two bills (one bipartisan the other partisan), or one partisan reconciliation bill, they will pass as much as they can. That sets up two scenarios:

  1. If the bipartisan infrastructure bill succeeds, it frees up a full $3.5 trillion that can be used completely on progressive priorities, since the $1 trillion in infrastructure spending is already taken care of.
  2. If the bipartisan infrastructure bill fails, the entire infrastructure bill will most likely be rolled into the broader reconciliation bill, making it more challenging to convince moderate Democrats to sign off on major progressive priorities in a bill that could swell to over $5 trillion.

Why defeating the infrastructure bill is important:

  • If the infrastructure bill is defeated, the infrastructure spending in reconciliation would become a top priority for moderate Democrats. This would make it more difficult for the more liberal Democrats to cram radical policies into reconciliation. Although the majority party can set a topline spending number as high as they want, for reconciliation, they will have to choose a number the most moderate members are okay with. If a higher topline number is agreed to, it will force Democrats to pick and choose which programs they include, increasing the likelihood that we will see fewer bad programs overall if the bipartisan deal is defeated.
  • It will be really hard for Senators Manchin (D-W.Va.), Sinema (D-Ariz.), and some others to justify voting for over $5 trillion in direct partisan spending—which they would be doing if all this is crammed into one bill. Known for working across the aisle, both Sinema and Manchin have expressed concern with a $3.5 trillion price tag for reconciliation, making it hard for them to accept an even higher price tag on a purely partisan deal.
  • We should remember that anything in the reconciliation package would be subject to the Byrd Rule (allowing senators to block unrelated provisions), so Republicans helping Democrats pass their infrastructure priorities is saving Democrats from having to make all those provisions compliant to this rule.

Some Senate Republicans insist the two are separate bills, but President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have already promised to pair them. Given the limited amount that Democrats can pass in reconciliation without Republican votes, every vote for this bipartisan “deal” creates room for more liberal wish list items in reconciliation.

In short, paying for roads and bridges in the infrastructure “deal” clears the deck for Democrats to focus on the radical policies in reconciliation. If this deal fails, Democrats will have to do roads and bridges in reconciliation. Since the reconciliation process is limited, there’d be less room for their partisan pet projects.

Thus, in this case, a vote for “infrastructure” is a vote for Biden’s entire progressive agenda.

**To tell your Senators to reject this bad bill, go here: frcaction.org/infrastructure

Will Schumer Go All the Way for Biden’s ED Nominee Catherine Lhamon?

by Meg Kilgannon

August 5, 2021

In a pleasantly surprising departure from their usual rubberstamping of Biden administration nominees, Senate Republicans earlier this week managed a party-line vote against Catherine Lhamon, Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education. The 11-11 deadlock means Lhamon will not advance to the floor for a confirmation vote without intervention by Senate Democratic Leadership.

Lhamon’s fate was sealed by her actions during her previous stint as assistant secretary for Civil Rights at OCR during the Obama administration. In 2016, Lhamon disregarded established procedure and the proper role of federal agencies when she jointly issued a “Dear Colleague” letter that threatened to remove funding from schools that did not enforce gender identity ideology throughout their operations. Not only did this letter require schools to allow biological boys who self-identify as girls into restrooms and locker rooms meant for biological girls, but this letter also required schools to place biological boys who self-identify as girls in the same housing as biological girls in overnight accommodations. The letter allows schools to honor a student’s request for a single occupancy accommodation “if it so chooses.” Lhamon further trampled constitutionally protected rights by requiring schools to “treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their education records or identification documents indicate a different sex.” The letter further noted, “The Departments have resolved Title IX investigations with agreements committing that school staff and contractors will use pronouns and names consistent with a transgender student’s gender identity.”

During Lhamon’s tenure, the Department of Education’s official website began publishing a “shame list” that religious schools could be placed on simply for requesting a waiver from Title IX provisions that violate their religious beliefs. Lhamon has indicated that the religious liberty of these schools should be construed as narrowly as possible while the re-definition of “sex discrimination” should be construed as broadly as possible. In a 2015 statement regarding these waivers, Lhamon acknowledged that they are legally allowed but stated that the Department of Education would “vigorously enforce Title IX’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex, including gender identity, in every applicable school.”

Under Lhamon’s leadership, the OCR was weaponized against those accused of sexual assault on campus, proving her willingness to exert power over schools through Title IX compliance by fiat. This amounted to an attack on due process rights—by someone charged with enforcing civil rights. The Trump administration’s Title IX Rule offered a much-needed correction and was hailed by many as a welcome improvement.

Lhamon’s record on school discipline is also troubling, as Max Eden explained recently on Washington Watch. Eden has sounded the alarm on the ramifications of her policies in his book Why Meadow Died and this op-ed on her nomination.

In 2018, Lhamon explained her work at the OCR on the podcast SwampED this way:

[OCR’s] jurisdictional obligation is to open for investigation any case that is within its jurisdiction and to hear families’ concerns about conditions in schools, to investigate whether those concerns rise to the level of a civil rights violation and if so, work with school districts and schools themselves and colleges and universities to try to secure changes to make sure that those kinds of violations don’t persist going forward. That means that there are literally millions of students in the arms of the office of civil rights. There are about 49 million public school students in the K-12 system and close to 20 million students in 7,000 colleges and universities around the country who are subject to the protection and the enforcement of the office for civil rights. 

Thankfully, whether or not the Senate will “subject” America’s students to Lhamon’s heavy hand at the OCR remains an open question. When her confirmation comes up for a vote in September, let us hope and pray they will not.

The Duty of Parents in Education

by David Closson

July 15, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

As the nation emerges from the set of political, health, and economic crises it has wrestled with over the past year, and as children head back to school in the fall, a battle is heating up: the fight for America’s schools.

Recognizing the growing battles within education, the Associated Press published an article last Friday titled “Tears, politics, and money: School boards become battle zones.” The article highlights debates in school board meetings across the country over new curriculum, how racism and American history will be taught, mask mandates, and transgender issues. How some of these fiercely debated questions are resolved will affect the trajectory of our schools and, ultimately, our nation.

Christian parents face questions even more fundamental than any of these. Namely, what is their responsibility when it comes to their children’s education? And does it matter if said education reflects a biblical worldview?

A quality education is a good thing to desire for one’s children. Desiring good things for one’s children is not a uniquely Christian trait; it is a human one—a reflection of the heavenly Father earthly parents are meant to resemble. Jesus was addressing a large crowd when he said:

Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Mat. 7:9-11, ESV)

Desiring a quality education for one’s children is not a uniquely Christian trait, but Christian parents ought to combine this excellent desire with another one—that their children would learn to embrace a biblical worldview.

The process of building a biblical worldview begins in the home. However, this process is also either helped or hurt by what happens in the classroom. A person’s worldview is not merely shaped by how they spend their Sundays or whether they learn good habits and spiritual disciplines. It is also shaped when they are being taught history, science, literature, and math. Therefore, Christian parents should care deeply about what their children are being taught and who is teaching their children. Children’s worldviews are constantly being shaped, and not necessarily by a biblical one.

Let’s briefly consider the state of worldview in America. According to George Barna’s America’s Worldview Inventory, a person’s worldview (the lens through which they see and understand the world) is solidified by age 13. Although someone’s worldview may change or adjust throughout their life, the overwhelming majority of Americans have their worldview in place before high school, with little to no change afterward. Barna’s research shows that today only six percent of American adults hold a biblical worldview. Even more troubling is the finding that only 21 percent of those who regularly attend evangelical churches have a biblical worldview (despite 81 percent thinking they do).

Christian parents must consider these numbers. Simply put, most Americans—including those who attend church—do not have a biblical worldview. This means that most of our children’s educators are not teaching from a perspective informed by biblical truth. Even those with good intentions will not be able to help our children see how Scripture answers the most fundamental questions we face.

God has clearly outlined parents’ responsibility for their children. When Moses was passing down the law of God to the people of Israel at Mount Siani, God commanded parents:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deut. 6:6-7)

By issuing these commands to parents, God made them ultimately responsible for educating and instilling a biblical worldview in their children. For a variety of reasons, parents may choose to delegate some of this responsibility. If and when they do, they should be careful to do so wisely.

For some parents, ensuring their children are taught a biblical worldview might mean homeschooling them. For other parents, it might mean finding a Christian school that instructs its students from a biblical worldview and enrolling their children there. And for others, it could mean being intentionally involved in the local public school system. This involvement might look like discussing and supplementing the public school curriculum at home with your children, attending school board meetings and speaking up when appropriate, running for and serving on the school board, or even working as a teacher or principal. Regardless of what form it takes, Christian parents should be intentionally involved in their children’s education.

Active parental involvement in the education of their children is a theme found throughout Scripture. For example, parents are advised to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). The apostle Paul wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Furthermore, the apostle John embodied the attitude all Christian parents and teachers ought to have when he wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).

Whether parents choose to homeschool their children, enroll them in private school, or send them to public school, they have a responsibility to raise their children in the Lord and will be held accountable for how they steward the blessing of children (Jesus gives a sobering warning in Matthew 18:5-6). What are our children learning? More importantly, what kind of people are they becoming because of their education? What virtues are they learning to cherish and embody? These considerations are at the heart of discipling our children because what happens in the classroom does not stay in the classroom—it shapes hearts and minds. Christian parents must be active participants in their children’s education as an act of obedience to God and out of love for both God and their children.

How California’s New Sex Ed Program Will Harm Kids

by Sophia Lorey

July 14, 2021

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” As Christians, we are called to raise our children with biblical truths and morals. However, the public education system is challenging this mission by implementing curricula that teach children beliefs that go directly against biblical truths. Not only is public education introducing lessons that go against what Christians believe, it is also creating long lasting psychological problems for children.

Sex education is nothing new to the public school system, though how it is being taught has changed immensely. Federally funded sex education began with good intentions by focusing on adults. After World War I, the government began an education program out of concern over so many soldiers returning home with STDs. However, a century later, the approach and depth of what is being taught to children is unrecognizable to how it began and has become quite disturbing.

There is a direct link to children being introduced or shown sexual content and increased mental health problems. According to the American Psychological Association (APA)’s Dr. Eileen L. Zurbriggen, “We have ample evidence to conclude that sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development.” Research done by the APA also reveals that when girls are introduced to sexualized images at such a young age, it can result in self-image problems, eating disorders, and shame when it comes to their own body, and it affects boys as well. Exposure to sexual content for adolescents can lead to attitude changes about sex and gender, sexual activity progressively beginning at a younger age, and a rise in sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents. According to American Academy of Pediatrics:

More than 100 studies have revealed links between young people’s exposure to objectifying content and their objectification of women or self-objectification. Those exposed to objectifying portrayals are more tolerant of or in agreement with sexual harassment, adversarial sexual beliefs, rape myths, child sex abuse myths, and interpersonal violence than participants without this exposure and experience greater body dissatisfaction, appearance anxiety, and disordered eating beliefs.

One of the most egregious examples of harmful sex education being implemented happened recently in California. In the fall of 2015, the California Healthy Youth Act – AB 329 was passed in the state legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown. This bill was proposed with the intention to “strengthen” sex education in California. According to the ACLU, it will “update and strengthen existing requirements for HIV prevention education and sexual health education to ensure that students receive education that is accurate, comprehensive, and inclusive.” However, this positive description is far from accurate.

There are five main goals to AB 329 that the California Department of Education lists. These goals include encouraging children to see sexuality as a normal part of human development, discussing gender identity and sexual orientation, and providing educators with clear tools and guidance. At first glance, these goals do not seem overtly harmful, yet they do not show the true nature of the curriculum that is provided and demanded to be taught.

The sex ed curriculum promoted by AB 329 welcomes and encourages sexual activity for minors (p. 6), teaches children how to obtain birth control (p. 17), and gives instructions on how to get an abortion without consent from a parent (p. 18). The curriculum also provides external resources to indecent websites for students to “explore” even more sexual content on their own. AB 329 also includes lessons on how people can explore different sexual orientations and includes instruction about gender expression and identity.

This new sex education recommended curriculum is going to expose children to photographs, videos, and lessons that are way too explicit for their age. Students will be shown and taught a curriculum that normalizes sexual activity by minors and takes away their innocence. It will also interrupt how a parent chooses to teach their child about sex without regard to their religious or moral beliefs. What AB 329 has implemented in K-12 public education directly challenges and goes against religious and moral beliefs that a family may hold.

AB 329 became law in January of 2016, though the State Board of Education did not adopt the framework until 2019. The new sex education was going to be implemented into schools in 2020, but due to school closures because of COVID-19, the curriculum was put on a pause until students return in person this year. It will not be long until we see the negative effects this curriculum will have on society, specifically the innocence of children.

It is time for parents to become informed and fight for the innocence of their children as AB 329 takes effect. Now that California has taken on this new sexual education curriculum, it will not be long before other states follow. As Christians, it is important now more than ever that we pray for the education system, get involved, and fight for our children.

Sophia Lorey is a Brand Advancement intern at Family Research Council.

The Time Is Now to Rethink Public Education

by Family Research Council

August 13, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown public education into turmoil. But well before the pandemic, serious problems with religious freedom, leftist indoctrination, and exploitive sex education have run rampant in public schools. For believers, the situation could not be more clear. The time is now to rethink public education. For more, explore these new FRC resources:

Coronavirus, Education, and Tofu: Why Choice is the Solution to the Education Conundrum

by Joseph Backholm

August 4, 2020

The coronavirus has been disruptive to our politics, our economy, and even our decency, but perhaps nothing has been disrupted as significantly as our education system.

Harvard has already announced that it will be conducting all classes remotely for the 2020-21 school year. Meanwhile, a battle is forming between school districts, parents, and teachers’ unions over the best way to do education in elementary, middle, and high schools in the age of corona.  

In Florida, the teachers union has sued the state over the governor’s attempts to require school districts to provide in-class instruction. The nation’s second-largest teachers union has authorized its teachers to strike if school districts do not meet certain demands like requiring masks or updating ventilation systems.  

Parents not only want their children to resume their educational pursuits; in many cases, they need somewhere to send their children so they can work. Not all families are wanting the same thing. Some parents think schools should resume as normal because children are in a low-risk category from the virus. Other families, whose children or close relatives are vulnerable, are either removing their children completely or insisting on a range of challenging or expensive modifications to school routines and buildings.

Meanwhile, school districts face a dilemma. If they choose online education, many families will leave. If they opt for in-class instruction, teachers may refuse to teach. For schools, there seems to be no right answer. But there could be. As sticky as this dilemma is, it’s made much more complicated by the fact that families are generally denied options about where to spend their education dollars.

In other contexts, this scenario isn’t particularly unusual or difficult. If McDonald’s replaces all their meat patties with tofu, vegans will descend on McDonald’s, and everyone else will go to Wendy’s or Burger King. It may require a change in routine, but ultimately everyone will get what they want because everyone has the freedom to spend their lunch money at the place that will give them what they’re looking for.

For reasons that are almost entirely political, education doesn’t work this way. While tax money is allotted for each student, students are almost always told where they can go, not asked where they want to go. Only those with enough money to look outside the public school system have real options. We are so accustomed to a choiceless education system that many of us have not paused to consider how strange it is. We would march on Washington if our health insurance providers told us they would only cover medical treatment at the hospital closest to our house.

There’s no way for schools to meet the unique needs of every family as they navigate this global challenge, but they shouldn’t have to. Families, schools, and teachers each need the freedom to do what’s best for them, but the law says they can’t. Families aren’t allowed to choose the school that’s best for them, and schools are forbidden from hiring teachers who are a good fit for the educational approach they will choose. As a result, schools are stuck with teachers who may refuse to work, and families are stuck with schools that may not have teachers.

If the education market worked like any other market, our present dilemma would still be challenging, but it would be solvable. As it is, we’re heading for a showdown that will end with nearly everyone being frustrated.

State legislatures should be calling special sessions immediately to allow families the freedom to choose the education that works best for their unique situation. One-size-fit-all solutions to education are always a problem, but right now, they’re especially harmful. Families must be empowered to solve this problem for themselves because they’re the only ones who can. If state legislatures don’t do this, they shouldn’t expect education in the age of corona to go well. People don’t enjoy being told they have only one option if that option doesn’t work for them. It’s like being told you have one option for a burger and learning they only sell tofu.

SCOTUS Delivers for Religious Schools

by Joseph Backholm

July 10, 2020

The Supreme Court had some misses this term, but not when it comes to religious schools. Two decisions in the past two weeks have greatly improved the landscape for religious education, including Christian education.

In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Court said religious schools cannot be excluded from that state’s private school tax-credit program. Previously, the Montana Supreme Court, citing a state constitutional provision known as a Blaine Amendment, said that religious schools could not be the beneficiaries of a public tax benefit—because they are religious. However, the U.S. Supreme Court said that provisions excluding religious schools solely because they are religious violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

In doing so, the Court again emphasized that the Constitution does not require government and religion to remain disconnected in every respect, only that government treat every religious organization and faith similarly.    

The impact of this decision is significant. Currently, 37 states have language similar to Montana’s anti-aid Blaine Amendment. But 26 states have school choice programs in the form of vouchers, tax credits, or education savings accounts. Until last week, parents in most of the 26 state school choice programs were prohibited from using them to attend a Christian school. No longer.

In addition to expanding opportunities for school programs that already exist, parents and churches in states with no school choice laws now have reasons to start that conversation in their state legislature. Not only does this expand options for parents, it provides opportunities for churches to start new schools.   

In the second piece of good news, the Supreme Court affirmed the right of religious schools to make employment decisions free of government intrusion. In Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, former teachers had sued two religious schools claiming that they had been discriminated against when they were released from their jobs. The Court held that the First Amendment prohibited the Court from even hearing the teachers’ claims. Why? Because if a court were to regulate how religious organizations hired and fired, it would effectively be determining how a religious organization is run.

In a 7-2 decision, the Court said such oversight was outside their constitutional jurisdiction. Specifically, they said that these teachers fell under a “ministerial exception” to non-discrimination laws which had previously been used to protect a church’s right to hire and fire ministers. 

As a result of this decision, religious schools may develop a new habit of describing Christian educators as ministers in their employment documents. Regardless, the Supreme Court has again recognized the right of religious organizations to be religious, free from the demands of a swiftly moving cultural tide. 

Providentially, at a moment where the need for cultural renewal has never been greater, the opportunity for Christian education has never been better.

Joseph Backholm is Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council.

Child Advocacy Starts at Home

by Molly Carman

June 24, 2020

In a lively debate on June 15, Elizabeth Bartholet and Kerry McDonald discussed homeschooling, parental rights, and the state’s responsibility in education. Bartholet serves as a professor at Harvard University, and McDonald is a homeschooling mother who also serves as an adjunct professor and has dedicated her life to protecting the rights of homeschooling families. Milton Gaither joined the discussion as a professor from Messiah College. Neal McCluskey, the director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the CATO Institute, moderated the debate, presenting the questions sent in and directing the overall conversation.

The primary question posed in the debate was whether the state should intervene in the homes of homeschooling families to ensure that the rights of children are protected. While parents are usually the primary care givers of their children, who is ultimately responsible for a child’s education, the parents or the state? This is a fundamental question with far-reaching implications. How one answers it is ultimately determined by one’s convictions on the role of the state and family.

As was revealed in the debate, Bartholet believes that parents should not be trusted with the final responsibility for educating their children. She is suspicious of parents, and believes children need to be exposed to ideas that compete with their parent’s worldview from an early age. However, in Ephesians 6:4, Paul says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Bartholet disagrees and says that the state should bring up children in the way they should go.

In her opening statement, Bartholet argued, “Children should have rights that are equivalent to adults because children are not able to protect themselves like adults are.” Because of the cases of child abuse involving homeschooling families, she concludes that the state should have higher regulations imposed upon homeschoolers in order to prevent abuse or neglect of children. She proposed state home visits and “a balance” between state intervention and parental control when it comes to rearing children.

Bartholet is concerned about three main issues: the academic, physical, and ideological wellbeing of all children. “My problem is not with homeschooling per se,” she said, “but with the lack of regulations on homeschooling.” Bartholet says that parents cannot be trusted to take good care of their children because they are not “certified,” and therefore, there needs to be state intervention in order to ensure that all children have a chance to make it in life.

Academically, Bartholet is concerned that homeschool students cannot meet the requirements set out by standardization in the school system. She claimed homeschoolers only do “pretty well” academically. McDonald responded by asking, “Whose standard? Where two out of three of public school students can’t read? The public schools’ standards?” Homeschooling families recognize that the standard for academic excellence in the public schools is not the standard they desire for their children. Homeschooling is “another form of private education,” says McDonald, “and parents ought to be allowed to escape the situation.”

In terms of the physical wellbeing of children, McDonald responded to Bartholet’s concerns by calling attention to the fact that government schools are highly regulated and yet, “One in 10 students who attend public government schools will be sexually mistreated by a staff member by the time they graduate high school.” Nationally, McDonald explained, “That’s five million kids!” Moreover, she noted that at least half of all students grades four to 12 are bullied at least once a month. In other words, children who attend school are not necessarily more physically safe than homeschooled children.

Unfortunately, there have been cases of allegedly abusive parents removing their children from the public school system and beginning to “homeschool” them in order to avoid further inquiry. The public schools are aware of these children, and yet child services do nothing. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, “Legally homeschooled students are 40% less likely to die of child abuse or neglect than the average student nationally.”

Finally, Bartholet is concerned that homeschool students are ideologically isolated from the world and are not getting exposed to other ideas. She argued, “Children have a right to exposure to some other people and ideas about how one might live their life. So that when they become adults, they have some meaningful opportunity to choose something other than the views, the values, the culture that their own parents have chosen.” McDonald responded by noting, “You cannot mandate exposure to other positions.” Ironically, it is also noted in the debate that while Bartholet wants to regulate the exposure of homeschool students to other ideas, the public school system is not mandated to require exposure to specific religious ideologies.

So, why do I care about this debate? Because I was homeschooled throughout grade school, and just last month, I graduated from university. Looking back on my education experience, I believe my parents advocated for me by personalizing my education, encouraging a love of learning, teaching critical thinking skills, and making me feel safe at home. Homeschooling gave me an opportunity to learn more than just the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic and how to take the SAT. It provided me with opportunities to see the world and learn firsthand about other cultures and history. In other words, homeschooling prepared me for life. My parents were well-suited to advocate for me because they know and love me. The state is simply not capable of advocating for me in this way; they do not love or know me as my parents do. Child advocacy starts at home, and what better way than through homeschooling?

Christian parents have a biblical responsibility to oversee their children’s education. While homeschooling may not be the right option for everyone, all parents have a role to play and must be actively involved. Moreover, Christian parents have a special responsibility to disciple their children in the faith. A child’s spiritual formation cannot be delegated to the church, a youth group, or a Christian school. Discipleship begins and ends in the home. While the church should complement the spiritual education that takes place in the home, it can never replace the role that parents play in cultivating their child’s walk with God. In fact, in the Old Testament, Jewish parents were charged specifically with the responsibility to teach God’s law to their children. In Deuteronomy 6:7, Moses said, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Teaching our children to walk in the fear and admonition of the Lord is an ongoing way of life that never ends. Thus, while homeschooling may not be for everyone, Christian parents must steward the time God has given them with their children well and do everything in their ability to raise children who love, follow, and obey God. 

Bartholet is right to be concerned about a child academically, physically, and ideologically. She is correct in saying that we should protect children from harmful situations, but she is misguided in suggesting that parents and the home are harmful to a child’s well-being. Christian parents have the opportunity, through homeschooling, to advocate for their children by teaching them academically from a biblical worldview, by playing with them and physically being present in their daily lives, and by helping them to foster a relationship and love for the Lord. Child advocacy starts at home, not necessarily because the state is incapable, but because of the God-given responsibility of parents to raise the next generation to love and fear Him.

Molly Carman is a Policy and Government Affairs Intern at Family Research Council whose research focuses on developing a biblical worldview on issues related to family and current events.

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