By: John Van Der Brink
Often parents have seen their children come home from college with a radically different mindset from the one they had when they left for college. The traditional values with which they had been raised were challenged in philosophy and psychology classes, and in its place, a woke ideology was entrenched in just a few short years.
From Biblical to Babylonian
This new way of thinking has now entered the American public mindset. Conservative values and Biblical precepts are increasingly challenged in adult society. Foundations like traditional marriage and a committed family structure are losing ground to loosely defined fluid human relationships. Long accepted standards of morality and proper order have been abandoned. The blind pursuit of individual freedom and equality have led millions of Americans to redefine what is right and wrong. Today the only right thing is that nothing is wrong, and the only wrong thing is that something is called right.
But many are beginning to push back. Parents are awaking to what is happening in American schools, and they are trying to regain their rightful control. Children belong to parents. They do not belong to the state. Parents have a right to know what is being taught in the classroom. They have a right to know and control the values being instilled in their kids. And they are fighting to maintain or regain it.
Liberals are furious. They see the American school system as the surest way to hold onto and even promote their woke agenda. Conservatives want to keep the future of the child in the hands of the parents. This great divide plays itself out in the halls congress, largely between Democrats and Republicans.
Free School Choice
There are two major fronts on this war over the child. One is “School Choice”. For years, former Secretary of Education Betsy de Vos pointed out the need for parents to be able to choose the education that is best for their children. She rightly argued that children should not be tied to failing schools because of their zip codes nor to schools that promote an ideology that is not their own. Several states have recently passed laws which allow parents to direct some of their tax dollars to schools of their choice, not just to public education.
One of those states is Florida. On March 27, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Bill HB 1 which provides parents with one of the most expansive opportunities to choose, unhindered by finances, where they want their children to be educated. There are more than 30 states now with some kind of School Choice laws, and the list is growing. This allows parents to choose schools which promote values and a worldview more in line with their own. Republicans generally favor school choice. Democrats, who are beholden to strong public school teachers’ unions, are vigorously opposed. They fear losing financial support for public education, and they risk losing control over their woke agendas.
Parental Bill of Rights
The second major front in this debate is the recently introduced “Parental Bill of Rights”, which gives parents the right to know what is being taught in public school curriculums. It would also require parental consent for the school to make gender changes on the child’s school records or use of opposite sex bathrooms. It was introduced by Representative Julia Letlow and vigorously promoted by House Education Chairwoman Virginia Fox before it narrowly passed on March 25, 2023 in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Unfortunately, it will not pass in the democratically-controlled Senate, and President Biden would veto it if it did. Certainly, this bill will be the center of debate in the upcoming election cycle. And its passage puts on public display that Democrats want to remove parental influence in education while Republicans want to promote it.
So, the struggle for the American child wages on.
To whom do our children belong? God says in his Word that children are a gift of God to parents. The fruit of the womb is His reward. Schools are there to support the parents in their tasks as stewards of the gift God has given. Children do not belong to teachers, or to politicians, or to the state. That is why many parents are turning to Christian education for the support of the ideology and worldview they want to teach their children.
What tomorrow will bring, no one really knows. American society is so volatile at the present time that it is impossible to see a clear path going forward. But one thing we can be sure of is that, as chaotic as things seem, the Lord stands above it all. His kingdom reigns. He can and He will still gather His church, even in confusing times. The candlestick of His Word, and its influence in society, will not be put out. Men and women and boys and girls will still be gathered into His everlasting kingdom by the mighty irresistible work of His Spirit. Christ is and will be King of kings and Lord of lords. There is a day coming when all His enemies will be forever vanquished. Then right will be right, and wrong will be wrong. And He will be all in all. Where will we and our children be on that day?
John Van Der Brink, director of the Netherlands Reformed Christian School in Pompton Plains, New Jersey, and a member of the Board of Directors of Christian Council International (CCI)
From left to right: CCI board member George Roller, Virginia Foxx and Henk Jan van Schothorst in December 2021