Perceived hostility to faith and moral standards has some Christian leaders calling for a mass exodus of believers from public schools.
Andrea Ramirez, executive director of the Faith and Education Coalition for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, is definitely not one of them.
In a Thursday commentary penned for Religion News Service, Ramirez indicates that she, too, is concerned with growing secularization in public schoolrooms. However, she insists that a Christian bailout is not the answer.
“As the spirit of Christ calls us to love our neighbors, not just our own families, public school withdrawal appears particularly off target,” Ramirez wrote.
She opines that calls for such an exodus have grown louder of late, coinciding with conservative Republicans taking the reins in the White House and Congress with the 2016 elections.
One of many voices for the educational exodus is Rod Dreher, author of “The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation.” He argues that Christians must invest in institutions supporting faith and its practice.
“I agree,” Ramirez says. “I also agree with radio personality James Dobson that parents are charged with the responsibility to educate and make disciples of their children.”
But that’s where she draws the line.
“How does disengagement from civic institutions align with Jesus’ life and his command to love our neighbors as ourselves?” Ramirez asks. “Deeming one or two education options as the ‘godly’ choice only serves to distract and divide.”
She stresses that she supports the right of parents to make educational choices for their children, allowing that “every child is unique, and parents are best-equipped to determine the right school setting for each child.”
Ramirez attended public and private schools as a child, and she and her husband helped found a public charter school, even while choosing to home-school one of their daughters.
Often, school choice comes down to a matter of finances, she reminds.
“Our neighbors with access and financial means may enjoy many options for education: home schooling, Christian or private education, and public or charter schools,” Ramirez wrote. “Other families, due to location or income, health or family constraints, find their local public school to be their sole educational option.”
Indeed, most American children (an estimated 90 percent) still attend public schools.
A mass exodus of Christians would be disastrous for America’s public school students, Ramirez argues.
“Instead, let’s engage with our communities as we honor the [divine image] in every student,” she declares, “providing high-quality education opportunities to support their God-given potential.”