The Pagans are Happy to Socialize Your Children

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ostr1A few weeks ago I wrote something criticizing public schooling over this incident. It got the ire up of friends and family members, many of whom have spent decades of their lives teaching and working in public schools. They vehemently disagreed with my portrayal of public schooling.

I reflected on what, exactly, bothered me about public schools and other activities or institutions like them, and I came up with a simple thesis:

For many hours each day, you cede your authority and parental care to others while letting other children socialize your children.

In the case of public school, those “others” are bus drivers, teachers, and principals. Many readers probably do not see any problem with this. And at one time I didn’t either. But I do now. First, a little background on my own education.

A Product of Public Schools

I went to middle-class, suburban public schools from first through twelfth grades, then to a public, State university. Full scholarship, National Merit Scholar, got over a 1500 on the SAT (this is back when 1600 was the highest), straight A’s, a model student. I was all about public schools, because I did well in school.

For a long time, I remained an advocate of public schools. Only since becoming a Protestant Christian and then a Catholic did I begin to peel back the layers of the onion and start to realize the depth of the problems in our culture and how public schooling is one factor in them and serves to reinforce them.

The Mis-socialization of Devyn Rose

How can I succinctly describe the diverse and disturbing things I learned while at school–not in classes, but at recess, in gym, on the blacktop before school started, on the bus, in the locker room? It’s impossible, so I’ll mention only a few things.

In elementary school classmates told me stories and jokes about homosexual acts. While they (nor I) probably understood all that we were saying, the gist of it was conveyed.

In middle school, I learned that there were the cool kids, the popular ones, and that I wanted to be one of them. I ditched the first group of friends I made at my new school (in fifth grade) and ingratiated myself into the popular group. I played sports and was pretty good at most of them, so that helped me gain entrance. But Heaven forbid if you ran afoul of one of the leaders, or you were singled out for ridicule because of some way you looked or dressed. The popular kids could be brutal, and the harshest among them were the ones most admired.

In sixth grade, one girl in my class was cruelly ostracized everyday, especially as we waited for the first bell to ring. She was mocked, insulted, physically hit, and despised. Why? Because she was not attractive, did not have good hygiene, and had been unpopular since elementary school. The adult monitors who were supposed to watch over us before school were MIA. I still think about this young woman and am ashamed of myself: instead of defending her, I joined in ridiculing her.

In seventh grade one of my good friends told me (and whoever was near in the locker room) about sexual experiences he was having with a high school girl. Yes, he was about thirteen years old and having sexual intercourse.

I was pressured by classmates to become sexually active so I could remain “cool.” By the time of high school, I had been exposed to so much vulgarity and perversion that there wasn’t much left to be learned or scandalized about.

One of my favorite teachers in junior high and high school turned out to be a molester. There were rumors about him, but I always dismissed them because he was such a kind teacher. Only years later did I read a short article in the local paper that said he had lit his house on fire and torched himself to death. This was when a brave student had finally come forward and openly accused him of sexual abuse. He had moved from one school district to another over the years. Sound familiar?

What I learned in school was this: it’s dog-eat-dog, or kid-eat-kid, and you have to learn to survive for yourself. Your parents are not there to protect you. Navigate the dangerous shoals of bullies, popular kid scorn, humiliation, sexuality, all while trying to learn who you were, and who you were supposed to be. All while being exposed to every foulness, perversion, and ugly side of human life.

So today I wasn’t surprised, but I was grieved and disgusted, to read the latest horror story to come to light out of public schools: young men sodomizing their classmates as a hazing practice. Read the whole piece if you can; I only made it half-way through.

Your Objection is Invalid

Objection: “But these are isolated incidents!”

The objection goes that these horror stories are isolated. No they’re not. Hundreds of them come to light every month, and those are just the ones we find out about. Ten times their number occur yet never make the news. Horrible things happened in my suburban, middle-class school, and very few saw the light of day.

Now, I was never sodomized, or molested, or interrogated for two hours til I peed my pants for bringing a cap gun on the bus. Again, I am a public school “success” story. But as I described above, even the regular stuff that goes on in public schools is awful.

Objection: “You can’t bunker down and isolate your children! They’ll learn about all this sooner or later.

Then let it be later. And I’m not talking about isolating my children or bunkering down. That’s a strawman. Would you let some guy come up to your five year old and tell them stories about anal sex? Is that appropriate for your five year old? No.

We shelter our children all the time. We choose not to take them to see that movie with intense violence that we as adults can stomach. Of course we shelter them, prudentially, from things they are not ready to understand, or from vile things that they should not be exposed to. There’s a time and a place for them to learn about certain things, and that time is not when they are in second grade, and that place is not from their peers at school.

Objection: “Your children have to learn to deal with other people, even difficult ones”

Sure they do. But they don’t have to be socialized by children whose parents are not rearing them properly. They don’t have to fear being sodomized by “difficult people” at school. And by adulthood, the kind of fish bowl Lord of the Flies stuff that goes on in middle school, junior high, and high school is gone. There’s other challenges that go on, naturally, but as an adult you are equipped to handle them. As an eight year old, you are not.

Objection: “I’m going to let my children shine their light for Jesus!”

If you were there with them through their school day, I may say “okay, go for it.” But you are not. And instead of shining their light for Jesus, a light that takes time to grow strong, much more likely is that the darkness of our pagan culture, as exhibited by their peers in overwhelming numbers, will snuff out the nascent flame that God has lit. I’ve seen it happen, again and again, even in good Catholic families (more on this later).

If you lived in AD 100, would you be sending your children to the pagan Roman schooling system, to worship Caesar and be exposed to so many perverted people? No. You would not do that. No more should you send your children to the schools today, which would give any Roman institution a run for its money in terms of debauchery.

An adult Christian, strong in the Spirit, can face such evil. Children cannot. Even George Lucas understood this when Yoda tells Luke he is not yet strong enough to face Darth Vader and his Emperor. As Mr. Miyagi said to Daniel-san: “First learn stand, then learn fly.” (See? Pop culture references from being being reared in the secular culture–I guess there are some good things about school!)

Objection: “Your children won’t be socialized!”

Oh yes they will. They will be socialized by mature adults who are faithful Christians. They will be taught the right way to live, and why they should live that way, and who God is, and why He is real and true and good and beautiful. They will be socialized by other faithful Christian families, with their children, in contexts where adults are present.

The pagans are happy to socialize your children, and will gladly do so if you send them to public school. In all likelihood, they will be socialized to conform to the prevailing culture, the zeitgeist, and not to Christ. Why? Because the secular society offers a competing vision for life and happiness, one largely at odds to the Christian gospel. Morally relativistic, consumer-driven, materialistic hedonism is appealing in countless ways.

Great Mr. Smarty-Pants. I Already Hate You, so what is your brilliant solution?

You just know I’m going to say “homeschool,” don’t you? Or maybe “Catholic school”?

I would propose, as a first step, any solution that avoids the pitfall described by my thesis: namely, don’t cede your authority and parental care.

If you can avoid ceding your authority and parental care while your children are in public school, then send them to public school. If you can avoid ceding your authority and parental care while your children are in Catholic school, then send them to Catholic school.

If you can do some combination of homeschool, homeschool co-op, cottage school, community school, Catholic school, and public school, all while not ceding your authority and parental care, great! do that.

But note that many Catholic schools are little better, and in some ways worse, than public schools. And in both Catholic and public schools, the predominant model is that you cede your parental care over your children. You are not in charge while they are at school; the school administrators are. You do not know what teachers or other children are doing or saying to your child. You have ceded parental care of your child during the time they are at school.

As a second step, I propose the solution that you offer a better culture to your children. A lively culture based on Christ and His Church, rooted in your family, in the milieu of a community of faith and love. Offer your children a place of beauty and truth, of warmth and welcome, of goodness and loveliness. Offer your children the truth of the Gospel as applied to every part of life.

In practice, homeschooling offers a good way of doing this. And a good way of not ceding your parental care to others. Some combination of other types of schooling with homeschooling can also offer it. I have yet to see how a five-day-per-week, eight-hours-per-day, standard public school option can offer it. Mom and Dad aren’t allowed in the locker room, where the pagan kids are wanting to sodomize your son.

A Word on Catholic Schools

I have friends, faithful Catholics, daily Mass goers, who have children that were homeschooled for years then went to Catholic schools afterwards. And some of their children have left the Faith entirely. They’ve bought into the secular world’s allures. They will one day find those allures to be empty promises, but the sad thing is that they fell for them. They found that vision of life to be more attractive than the Catholic one offered by their parents, who are praying people.

One of their children faced unbearable ridicule at a Catholic high school. Mean behavior to ostracize her, because she rubbed the popular girls the wrong way and was a threat to them in her faithfulness and guilelessness. In other words, the same sort of bullying and meanness found in public schools is also found in Catholic ones. And Catholic schools mostly follow the same model of parents ceding their parental care of their children, only to (at least nominally) Catholic administrators rather than secular ones.

So I caution parents to be careful with any organization: Boy Scouts, their Catholic parish, the children’s sports teams, and so on. Know who the people are who will be watching your children. Ensure you are involved and it is a safe environment. That goes for altar server training, camping, the assistant coach giving your child a ride to the weekend tournament, etc.

Now That You’re Feeling All Judged

The standard disclaimers apply: lots of good people work at public schools. I’m related to some of them. I had many as teachers. Lots of kids come out of public school with their faith still intact. Schools have lots of good programs that can help kids with special needs (which we ourselves have taken advantage of and been grateful for).

This post is not an indictment against everyone who works in public schools or parents who send their children to them. Many families have little choice but to do so. Money and jobs (or lack thereof) or special needs necessitate using the tax-funded public schooling option. But it is intended to provoke you into thinking about whether it is a safe and healthy environment for your child.

Our country is firmly secular, and becoming more so everyday. Public schools are an indispensable apparatus of the state to indoctrinate children into a particular way of seeing the world, of seeing themselves, one that is in many ways antithetical to the Christian Faith.

I want to offer my children a better way, and by God’s grace I hope I am able to. I plan to take the first step and be careful in what type of schooling I choose for my child. If anything other than homeschooling, I want my wife and I to be involved in the day-to-day goings-on at the school. We have one option for such a school in our area, and plan to try it out, along with homeschooling or a co-op type system with other families.

I also plan to take the second step and foster a community of love and truth where my children can learn who they truly are, as beloved children of God, in a safe environment, where they can learn to face the ugly and trying things in life as they are able.

If I have offended you, I apologize in advance. I was implored by a facebook friend to be much more careful in my critique. Instead, I have doubled-down, but in doing so I have been careful in crafting my thesis, which people are free to disagree with.

Devin Rose

Devin Rose

Devin Rose is a Catholic writer and lay apologist. After his conversion from atheism to Protestant Christianity in college, he set out to discover where the fullness of the truth of Jesus Christ could be found. His search led him to the Catholic Church. He blogs at St. Joseph’s Vanguard and has released his first book titled “If Protestantism Is True.” He has written articles for Catholic News Agency, Fathers for Good, Called to Communion, and has appeared on EWTN discussing Catholic-Protestant topics.

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69 Responses

  1. “He had moved from one school district to another over the years. Sound familiar?”

    Hmm…sounds an awful lot like Catholic priests.

    1. That does seem to be the point. The question becomes: what are we going to do about it? Or, perhaps more to the point: what have we learned since then that can be applied to this case?

      1. Exactly JC. We in the Catholic Church in the U.S. have taken huge steps to stop these abuses from happening. But public schools have not, as they have avoided the limelight with the abuse that happens there.

      2. I’ve often asked myself, along with others, where is the “teacher abuse crisis?” Just perform a little ol’ Google search and you will find many instances of teachers, both men and women, who have inappropriate sexual relationships with high school students and middle school students. Far too often, these teachers are merely shuffled around and not dealt with accordingly. The term “pedophile priest” is part of our culture now, but nobody has any idea what has been going on in public schools. I guess it’s not trendy or hip to mess with tax payer funded institutions.

      3. Chris,

        Yes exactly. And part of the motivation behind my post is that children are being abused in many organizations. The spotlight was on the Catholic Church but now ironically your children are safest at Catholic parishes as compared with other organizations. Thinking this was or is a Catholic-only issue is completely wrong. So parents should be cautious, prudent, and wise when sending their children anywhere for hours each day when they cannot watch them.

        Even ignoring sexual abuse that goes on in public schools, so many other bad things go on there, as I mentioned above, that it is the very last place I would want send my children.

    2. Estelle, yes he was a teacher for two decades in various public schools in the area. The only thing that ever got publicized of his wrongdoings was a small article in the local paper saying he was accused and then went home and burned himself alive.

    3. Yes, it is interesting that the media has ignored the pedophile teacher crisis even though it is estimated to be ten time more common than that of priests.

      Think about it. Why would the media ignore the public school pedophile teacher issue while focusing on the pedophile priests as front page news. Could it be Satan’s perfect weapon to destroy the Church on one side? At the same time why cover up the pedophile teacher problem? One, a pedophile can create lots of sexually twisted adults. Secondly, the public schools are the perfect tool to secularize then spiritually destroy our children, why make it look bad.

  2. There are few articles in which I agree with absolutely everything. ( In fact, I am a disagreeable person. ) But this article is 100% truth. I took my kids out of the neighborhood public elementary school after only a couple years and have homeschooled ever since. I heard all the objections you mentioned here. Plus: why didn’t I transfer them to one of the three Catholic elementary schools within 5 miles of me? Because I know parents at all these schools and I hear the same scarey stories about their Catholic schools. There is a time to be a child and a time to be an adult. Because of schools, kids grow up way too fast. And then, since they never got a childhood, they act like children as adults. By high school many kids who are homeschooled and are strong in their faith are able to go to a school and withstand the pressures. But some are not yet ready and are better off in some homeschooling or coop situation in high school. You have to know your kids.

  3. Wonderful article. Why don’t we hear about this from our priests at mass? I had an experience with public schools just like you. I was involved with more sin the last year junior high school than the 30 years after junior high school. I was exposed to more sin and evil in that time than I would ever believe possible. Why did I not mention high school. Because I realized that my actions were destroying me so I became an extreme introvert. I spent my whole lunch in the library and never socialized with my fellow students. But the damage was already done. When I left home, I went back to much of immoral sexual behavior, drinking, smoking, left the Church etc.

    I can’t blame it all on school. I was very poorly catechized in the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ CCD classes. The priests who were guiding me in youth group taught us to pick and choose which Catholic teachings to believe, and in many cases, they didn’t believe most Catholic teaching anyway. So I had every good excuse to do what I wanted to and let society guide my conscience.

    I am still waiting to have the priests at my local parish guide my conscience. If only were to get Catholic truth from the sermons at Mass there, all I would know is to love my neighbor (the world).

  4. I was sexually abused by my eighth grade science teacher. Years later, I told my parents and went to meet with the school principal. The teacher was no longer there, and he said there was nothing he could do. Several more years passed, I was now in a lesbian relationship and seeing a counselor. The abuse came up and finally someone reported it to police. The teacher was now a doctor, remarried, and living in another state. Juvenile police detectives tracked him down, but a judge determined too much time had passed. I am now happily married, mother of five. This article is really a blessing. Homeschooling is terribly hard in comparison to putting kids on the school bus. Sometimes we grow weak, and need to be reminded of the dragons again.

  5. With all due respect, I was in Catholic school from K-8th grade, and then public high school. I ran across many of the same problems you did in public schools. The difference is that my parents were actively involved with both my education and socialization. They were willing to actually talk with me about those issues that I was exposed to by my peers in school.

    It seems that your solution is to simply shelter your children by homeschooling them. I can tell you that this solution is NOT for everyone. First, you’re depriving your child of the opportunity to grow his/her social skills. I have run across COUNTLESS homeschooled children that, while very intelligent, have little or no social awareness. Second, not every family can afford to do homeschooling – so it is just not a practical option for most. Finally, you can’t let your kids remain in the proverbial “nest” forever. They are going to have to leave at some point in time, and they WILL be exposed to the things you mentioned in your article AND much more. Rather than allowing them to face these things on their own, it is better that you walk with your children as they are growing so that they can properly appropriate these elements.

    1. We don’t home school, yet I find all your objections to it absurd:

      – social skills? You mean, like the teasing and abuse described in the essay? How about the deprivation of social experience caused by having your kid hang out with only kids their own age all day long? Talk about denying the real world. Also, my experience is that there are COUNTLESS homeschooled kids who fail to act like the cookie-cutter idea of kids we’ve been trained to expect, yet socialize very well across age groups – a skill tragically lacking among well-schooled kids. The problem you’re looking for is in the mirror.

      – ‘Afford’ is meaningless in this context. You can ‘afford’ to hand your child’s childhood over to others? and I’ve seen COUNTLESS middle class families who can’t afford homeschooling but can afford a nice house, a couple new cars every few years and vacation travel. Sure, it would be very hard for some – but a lot use this as an excuse.

      – Yep, just kick those kids out of the nest – at 5 years old. Or maybe 6 – time to toughen them up.

      Absurd.

      1. Joseph, It appears that we both draw our conclusions from personal experiences. I never said I am against home-schooling, but rather I was disagreeing with the author’s suggestion that home-schooling is the best option given the circumstances.

        While I disagree with you, I do so in a way that is respectful of your opinion. I am not calling your opinion ‘absurd.’ If you would like to discuss this further as adults, I’d be happy to do so. Otherwise, please refrain from speaking.

    2. Hi Brent,

      My parents were quite involved as well–one reason I did so well in school. But they couldn’t be with me throughout the day at school, no parent can. And while they talked to me about things, the main message on sexuality was: “use a condom” (like a lot of secular kids are told).

      Yes, I’ve met awkward homeschool kids…and awkward public school ones. What’s the relative percentage? I don’t know. But almost all public school kids I meet don’t know how to look an adult in the eye and greet them in a polite way, let alone carry on a conversation of even a moment. Whereas most homeschool children I know can do this.

      God bless!

      1. Thanks for a bold and very direct article. I agree that homeschooled children
        are usually better at interacting with adults. My daughter went to
        Catholic school (with the same brutal atmosphere as a public school), so
        I decided to homeschool her, and when she entered 9th grade, I enrolled her in a
        very good non-denominational Christian school. She is very social,
        poised, and has great leadership qualities as well as being an excellent
        student and faithful Catholic. Adults always remark on what an amazing
        teenager she is and she is popular with kids and adults at our parish. I
        know that she would not be the same person today if I hadn’t rescued
        her from an environment that was set up to destroy her spirit.

    3. I agree completely.

      I went to Catholic schools and public schools. My wife was homeschooled.

      We currently send our children to Catholic schools and have sent them to public schools. We will NOT homeschool. Period.

      The problem with homeschooling is that the children are isolated and sheltered. Not just sheltered from the bad, but sheltered from the good. The children only get one perspective—their parents. They meet primarily other homeschooled kids. They get a very narrow perspective on the world.

      Then, when they go off to college, they get EVERYTHING, and not all are prepared to handle it. If children are homeschooled for religious reasons and find homeschooling ill-prepared them for life, they will blame the religion for the problem. I know quite a few homeschoolers who have left the faith they were raised in for this reason.

      The solution is Catholic schools. If the Catholic schools are broken, then fix the Catholic schools. For decades Catholic parents sent Catholic children to Catholic schools to get a Catholic education. Parishes supported the schools so that everyone could afford to go. Can you imagine how many children could receive a Catholic education if the resources that were poured into homeschooling were invested in Catholic schools?

  6. As a young, Catholic teacher who works in a high poverty school, I unfortunately see your point. I often leave my classroom at the end of the day with the firm conviction that my future children will not be attending a school like this. I love my students very much and do everything I can to make sure they are not bullied and that classroom interactions are respectful, however I am only one teacher. Many teachers just chalk it up to “high school,” and ignore it. Also, I am NOT my students’ parent, and many of the problems they have come from home – a home vastly different from the home my children will be raised in. Of course I think great kids can come out of public school and I am so grateful that we have them, but it is certainly not the choice I will make for my little ones. Good for you for shining some light on the situation!

    1. Thanks Morgan. And I was a Big Brother for years before realizing that, though I may have a small effect, the (single) parent raising my “Little” would decide their future, and that was not going to be a religious or moral one. A teacher can only do so much, as you point out. God love you!

  7. I graduated from 12 years of public school, and my parents both work in the public school system. I managed to keep (and even grow in) my faith, something that would not have been possible through either Catholic or home schooling.
    When you live your life surrounded by only those who are like you, you cannot develop a worldview that is truly Catholic. Did Jesus not eat with sinners and Samaritans? I believe that (especially with homeschooling) it is frightfully easy to become horribly selfish. By ‘selfish’ I mean, only able to connect to those like yourself, your family.
    And yes, family is an amazing experience, but not being able to extend your love beyond your family is a waste.
    I was sometimes known at school as ‘the Catholic,’ which caused surprise when people saw that I was ‘so normal.’ I had the same personal relationships as all of my peers did, and was able to often be a missionary, steering conversation in a fruitful direction, rather than joining in in some of the vulgarities that are present in all schools.
    We do the world a disservice if we take Catholic students out of public schools. Catholics need to be a hugely present voice if we are ever going to be able to help the world return to Christ.

    1. Sure Catholics need to be a big voice, but your first grader isn’t ready for it. And your sixth grader probably isn’t up to stand against the tidal wave of peer pressure.

      You said: “When you live your life surrounded by only those who are like you, you cannot develop a worldview that is truly Catholic.”

      With respect, oh yes you can! Firstly, it is not possible to live your life without meeting other people. Homeschool doesn’t mean “no interaction with the outside world.” There’s clubs and sports and camping and friends and family–many of whom are not Catholic–and the grocery store, etc.

      Secondly, consider Christendom, that time in the history of the West when “everyone” was Catholic. Great saints, men and women, grew up in that time, even though they were largely surrounded by faithful people and families. Of course, even then there were irreligious people whom they encountered, but the whole milieu was Catholic.

      Or take St. Therese of Lisieux, a more sheltered girl you cannot find, yet she became the greatest saint of modern times, in spite of leading a sheltered life among those who were like her.

      Glad you turned out all right. And yes we rear our children to become saints, martyrs, and missionaries, but we have to be wise as serpents when it comes to what we expose them to as children.

      God bless,
      devin

    2. Where and when did you go to public school? This seems like a surreal dream to me. Plus, even if you were not exposing your children to a moral cesspool, the quality of the education ranges from decent to pathetic.

      Even Jesus did not “eat with sinners and Samaritans” until he was 30. Perhaps you are one of the few who were able to do that, maintain your own morality, and exert a positive influence. If so, congratulations. But I would NEVER take that risk with my children.

  8. Bravo! The general assumption that parental authority begins ‘here’ and ends ‘there’ needs to be dispelled thoroughly, and especially among parents. Bl JPII said to families, “Become what you are!” I would say the same to all parents. Be your children’s role models, teachers, protectors, etc. Parents derive their authority over their children from God; an institution like a school derives its authority from the parents, and from no other. Parents should find out what is being taught and what is happening in their child’s school in and out of the classroom and should remember that it does not take a village; it takes a FAMILY.

  9. As someone who was homeschooled (and part of a church homeschool group) until junior high, when I went to a private Christian school……it’s not any better on that front.

  10. i’m not against homeschooling, but i know that it’s not a 100% guarantee that children will remain in the faith. friends of mine homeschooled their kids all the way through the end of high school. the kids did well academically, participated in sports, and weren’t socially awkward. they even did some Catholic apologetics.

    however, one of them, at some point during his college years, rejected the faith and became an atheist. his father believes his son’s main reason may have been to reject the Church’s teachings on sexual morality, especially because his son had started a serious relationship with a young woman at the college.

    so, while homeschooling and the other alternatives outside of public and Catholic schools do raise the chances of kids growing up as model students with their faith intact, in the end, it’s the choices they themselves will have to make that will matter most. and with regard to their own choices, the only way we can really help them is to pray for them.

    1. I don’t think anyone claims that homeschooling or any other thing a parent does is a guarantee that their kids will turn out right, never sin, or never make mistakes. Homeschooling Catholic parents probably understand the Catholic teaching on free will more than anyone else. After the age of 18 parents know they no longer have authority over their kids and they will make their own free will decisions. Homeschooling is simply a way to stack the deck in favor of the parents’ values.. Going to a public school is stacking the deck in favor of secular society’s values. There aren’t even any guarantees that I, homeschooling Catholic parent, will stay on the straight and narrow and get to heaven. Parents also have constant perils and pressures from all sides. No guarantees in this life. Just slogging through it doing the best we can.

    2. Yes, no guarantees in anything, just look at Judas who was taught by Jesus Christ himself. All we can do is our very best and at this point in history, home schooling or a GOOD Catholic School are the only choice.

  11. Devan, I am in total agreement with everything in this article. Sadly, it seems that many parents who would agree with you in principle cannot bring themselves to take a courageous step out of the mainstream to do the best thing for their children. My husband and I together with other families started up a Catholic homeschool co-op (for lack of a better word) using an established and accredited curriculum. We rent classrooms, hired actual teachers, have gym class, teach life skills, and the students all learn sacred music in a schola. The curriculum would put any diocesan school to shame, let alone a public school curriculum. Yet, though we have inquiries from other families, none of them seem to be able to do something different than everyone else is doing. We hear, “Oh, it’s small.” (Because YOU won’t join!) “It’s too new.” (Everything starts SOMETIME.)
    “There aren’t alot of extra-curricular activites there.” (These can be had elsewhere.)
    “My child needs to get into a good college.” (This curriculum will assure that better than a public or diocesan school curriculum.) There’s always some excuse. God gives us opportunities, but too many people want all the bells and whistles, along with all the wordly prestige, before they will go against the mainstream. Even though our co-op is working beautifully for those who have stepped out in faith and trust, it may have to fold for lack of enough students to make it financially viable (even though we work on a shoestring budget.)
    “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” For too many, maybe not so much.

    1. That is very sad. In our parish most if not all the parents home school but we don’t have a coop which would be wonderful. I am afraid most Catholics (my siblings are a good example) have kind of in the ‘world’ and still Catholic. They think the most important thing is financial success, then marital success, then maybe success as a Catholic. Many I know that their adult children don’t go to church anymore and they are not upset. They get upset when grades aren’t good in college or the new boyfriend is a looser, but it is okay if they aren’t going to church. It makes me wonder if most Catholics even believe it anymore. If your spirituality determines your everlasting life, I would think that would be your priority. If you love God, that would be your top priority for your kids.

      It seems the attitude of the world has almost thoroughly infected most Catholics. Thank goodness I found the Parish I found because they get it. Their first priority is the spirituality of their children. Most don’t even have an antenna on their TV or cable because they don’t want the world infecting their kids through it. They have videos etc for them. All this makes for great kids and when they leave home as adults, they stay Catholic. Some make mistakes but they stay Catholic.

      We must remember that Jesus said that we need to be in the world but not a part of it.

      May God bless your efforts. Maybe you will just need to home school on your own or devise a less expensive route. I know the folks in my Parish are VERY poor, yet either the Mother or the Father stay home and school the kids. They don’t live in nice homes in nice areas but their turn out great.

    2. CoralSpring, this is great to hear. And your co-op sounds a lot like a “school” we plan to join with our children. There is still a strong pull to having your child in the mainstream channels, since that is the easiest way to then get them into good colleges, scholarships, etc., but this is changing as college becomes like an super-expensive second high school.

      God bless!

  12. The effects of a good Christian home are invaluable. My German wife was one of seven children reared by model Christian [Methodists] parents during the Nazi regime. They attended public school and could have easily been infected by the Nazi philosophy. But that didn’t happen thanks to her marvelous mother, who I knew, and her father who I didn’t know. He died soon after walking back from a Russian concentration camp. The first words he spoke as he entered his home was “Where is my bible”.

  13. Amen to all of the above. My eldest went through the public school system and I can attest to the unceasing indoctrination, including teachers mocking Christianity, the intense focus on sexual behavior, from suggestive behavior and joking in elementary to promiscuous behavior through high school, and an overall sewer-level atmosphere when it comes to language and manners. This is at top-rated public schools, blue ribbon blah blah blah. As for my youngest five, we are devoted homeschoolers (and yes, will be through high school!) and grateful every day for the inspiration God gave us to protect our children’s innocence, raise them with their faith at the center of their every day and nurture their beautiful minds and souls. It is a very tempting whisper that your children can be ambassadors for the faith in the anti-Christian, anti-faith textbook world of the public schools – but that is not the first priority. The first is to be formed in the faith, to be equipped by your parents – I would ask parents who think otherwise how they testify to their faith in the workplace, or if they want to get their teaching degree and teach their faith in the schools, then see how long they keep their jobs! Be brave dear parents – courage is a virtue we are meant to employ. Our kids are worth it.

  14. Devon, God bless you! You courageously said what needs to be said. It
    took us several years to screw up the courage, but we knew this was what
    we should do, so we started homeschooling 26 years ago at a time when
    few homeschooled. We could not ignore the fact that God had given us
    these children and we were responsible for their souls, so we pulled
    them out of elementary school and never looked back. Now they are
    homeschooling their children. I know many are afraid to homeschool –
    but, trust me, God will give you the grace! Jesus said, “Do not let your
    hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me” (John 14:1).

    1. I was curious about something. I know several young couples who are homeschooling but how many homeschooled children remain Catholic. How did you do and what have what kind of success rate have you seen around you. I know that my parents raised us in public school, and the only one that remained Catholic, was the one that stayed in Catholic school the longest (until he was about 14 years old). I just returned after 30 years. Four definitely are not Catholic anymore and one is very weak Catholic/Protestant type, so public school was about 20% successful for our family. How does homeschooling do in your experience?

      1. St. Donatus, I have no access to stats, as this is a relatively new phenom in the last four decades. All I can offer is anecdotal evidence. Steeping them in faith and the witness of secure family faith life absolutely increases the chances they will keep the faith. Obviously, the longer one homeschools, the better the chances. Interesting aside: we had immersed them in the Catechism for years, and it was only when they travelled to a Steubenville Youth Conference in their mid-teens that they came back and said, “Okay, we get it now.” They had the faith knowledge in their heads; the conference took it to their hearts.

        As I look around to those I know who homeschooled, and those who did not, I would offer an observation that the chances the faith is kept through homeschooling (and homeschooling lifestyle) would be improved by at least 50% – probably much more.

        It also helps when there is a homeschooling community. When we started there were only a few homeschooling families who lived far away; now 25 years later, in my community there is a homeschooling choir of 60! What a blessing.

        I might add I believe the old adage that the apple does not often fall far from the tree is reasonably accurate. Even if kids fall away from sound teaching and example, when they do have their own families, the tendency is to follow the model of the family in which they were raised. I left the Church at 19, and came back enthusiastically at age 30 when I was faced with the nagging conundrum of baptism for our children. The good God knocked me off my horse, and the rest is history. Please God I stay the course and always keep the pearl of great price.

  15. And yet evangelical protestants and Mormons succeed in raising their kids in the church, while sending them to public school.

    1. Some do, some don’t. Some homeschool; others go to private school; others go to public school and leave their faith.

      Realize too that Mormons offer a strong culture and vision for life and community, much stronger than Evangelicals or Catholics do. In Mormonism, one’s entire social circle is Mormon. And leaving Mormonism often means losing all your friends and family, being ostracized. Mormons also do two year missionary work, a great way to galvanize their beliefs into their young people.

  16. All that you said applies to higher education as well. We throw our 18 year olds into the lion’s den of debauchery when sending them away to college, even if its’s a Catholic school (most of these are thoroughly secular and pagan, including their professors). Many Catholic college kids lose their faith (and their souls) due to the hostility toward faith & the moral relativism that are rampant on college campuses.

    1. It’s a good point. The tough part is, they are 18 years old or older when they reach college, time enough to where they will be out on their own most likely anyhow. Ideally they are strong enough in their faith to get involved at a good parish or student center (*cough* St. Mary’s in College Station, Texas). But this is not always the case. College is by no means a given for our children, while it was for me.

  17. John Dewey the founder of American Public Education valued socialization of the type you mention over education (learning new information and enlightening your mind). Thus we spiral down to the lowest common denominator of the immoral, non-religious parents who do no moral training of their children and expose them to the worst of the media. Its been in the works for a hundred years.

  18. I read this as I hear my near 5-year-old daughter singing from the top of her lungs while swinging in our backyard. She sings a lot, very boisterously so. And when she does, I’m reminded of the girl who I attended kindergarten with who also sang at the top of her lungs quite often, usually on the long bus ride to and from school. And boy, did my classmates and I ever make fun of her and tease her restlessly. That girl transfered at the end of the school year, and I often wonder what ever became of her. I pray we didn’t break her spirit.

    My point being, I now insert my daughter into this scenario – I already see how some of the neighborhood kids look at her, smirk at her, and exclude her from the ‘hood’s informal gatherings, just as I did to that sweet girl some 30 years ago. I know today’s bullying has magnified to levels far more severe than what I engaged in or was exposed to myself in the early 80’s. Do I want to shelter her from the potential of some of this? Heck yes I do, and I’m proud to do so.

    We are just beginning our homeschooling journey, and we too are joining a co-op (using the Catholic Schoolhouse curriculum). Just as you describe, our co-op is an environment where my children have the opportunity to be socialized by other faithful Christian families and children – and we adults will always be present. Ironically, the kids in the co-op flock to her – no smirking there.

    Not sure of the outcome, but we promise to take our schooling decisions year by year, assessing, and reassessing, and asking for God’s blessing along the way.

    Thanks for a terrific post, Devin. Keep up the great work!

    1. Great choice. In our parish almost all, if not all of the kids are home schooled now. Many of the families have had to sacrifice a fine home in a nice neighborhood and many of other ‘finer’ things in life, but these families are wonderfully happy and their kids turn out great.

      Remember though that Satan doesn’t like anything that will take his influence away from your kids. He will work very hard to get you to quit homeschooling. It usually has to do with one of two things, some bad kids in the home schooling group or family financial issues. I know a couple of families who make starvation wages but yet they stay the course. All eight kids are home schooled. Yes, she is tempted to go to work and put the kids in public school, but if just one of those kids looses their soul due to the influence of the public schools, the cost will be much too high.

  19. This post is perfect. Raising our children to be Saints is such a beautiful and important calling that no-one else can fulfill. Aside from the issue of protecting them from all the bad in our culture, it is so necessary to pray and discern what God is calling them to, who He is calling them to be, and to help them grow to be that person. It’s hard, but it’s our path to holiness, too. It makes me so sad to drive by day care centers that take care of really little kids. How can you give up control of them at such a young age? They need the tender love of a parent! And then they get bigger and are still away from their parents all the time… Thank you for the encouragement to NOT cede control of our children, even when other people think we are crazy for being countercultural in that way.

  20. I would love to meet any Pagans you know personally and help
    you tell them off, because you obviously know NOTHING about what being Pagan
    actually is. :/ Also, while I agree that the bullying is terrible… What about the parents with no other choice? What would you have single parents do, or homes where both parents have to work long hours?

    1. The answer from the start is to live a Catholic life. Our society likes to say that no fault divorce is good since it gives unhappy people the ability to get out of a bad situation. In reality, it gives selfish people the opportunity to abandon their family and go out and have a good time. Marriages can work if first they are both stable people and two they put their spouse first in their lives and Christ taught. Instead our society is full of selfish but ‘nice’ people. (I know, I was one of these for most of my life.)

      People also like to say that women were miserable and stayed with bad men because they had no choice. Again, this was a rare occurrence. I am old enough to remember what it was really like. Of all the older married couples I knew (before divorce was acceptable), about thirty, only one woman had a drunk and worthless husband. Yet despite this she was fun, happy, and was my favorite aunt. She put her faith in God and God blessed her. In fact, back then there was no real welfare, so the Church supplied them with a very modest home, room for a large garden in exchange for small tasks they would do for the Church (ring the bell for Mass, grow flowers for the altar, minor jobs that they could do).

      Refraining from sex before marriage would resolve 95% of the remaining single mother situations. There are those rare occasions where the other parent leaves the faith and joins the culture in which case other Catholics should help the Catholic parent care for the children. This is the way things are done in our parish. I don’t know anyone who has been divorced in our parish. God has blessed us.

      1. Do as Jesus and his apostles commanded in the Bible and be no part of the world and thus adhere to his teachings.

      2. My concern isn’t in numbers, it is that those that truly care about having good happy lives, that truly want to serve their creator, might find a way to give their children the greatest advantages in eternal life. I know many families who practice this with great success. Their children go out into the world with the armor Saint Paul recommended, ready to defend the faith, and live happy and holy lives.

      3. Ok, but as mechanization continues you will find yourself increasingly isolated. There is only so much faith can adapt to the environment and there is only so much you can hide reality from your children.

        If your faith works for you, then great, but it will not work for everyone else, including your children, and there is only so much you can do so socialize your children into having faith. In this day and age there is so much information out there, your ability to impose faith will diminish exponentially.

  21. I’m not going to comment on the real message of this article, but I do want to suggest, as someone very familiar with modern Paganism, that you stop referring to the wild, undisciplined, barely-civilized animal culture of teenagers as “pagan culture.” It’s not. If public schools actually were centers of Pagan culture, you wouldn’t see most of these problems you refer to (although you might, from your own Catholic perspective, see different ones).
    Of course, they can’t be; the First Amendment does not allow government institutions, including public schools, to endorse any religion, nor do I think compromising that standard would be a good idea. But child society in school isn’t even secular culture. It’s just a society of animals struggling to emerge into their humanity, a state that describes children generally. One finds similar behavior among tribes of chimpanzees in the wild. Trust me on this: Pagan parents have similar worries (to which one can add fear of religious persecution common to all minority religions), and would nod their heads at most of what you say here. Very little of this is specific to Catholicism or indeed any branch of Christianity.

  22. First of all, Pagans aren’t the one doing these things. My high school years, 1995-1999, were waaaaaay worse than anything you listed here. I developed PTSD from the intense bullying. And you know who did the bullying? All Christians. Every last one of them. In fact, most of them went to my Parish Church. I knew some Pagan kids, and they never messed with anyone; in fact they stayed off by themselves. It isn’t Pagans’ fault that kids suck, it’s both the parents and the kids’ themselves fault. Kids are MEAN to each other, and the parents can only be held responsible to a certain point. After that point, the kid is making his or her own choice to do wrong things.

  23. While the basis of this article is a good one, I take anything a Catholic says very lightly. Every accusation made in this article can be pinned on the Catholic church as well. Molestations. Sodomy. Torture. And you know why those things have plagued the Catholic church for so long? It’s comparable to what happened to ancient Israel. They ignored the signs. And they reaped what they sowed. The Catholic Church is a cult that uses GOD to promote evil. Black is their color. A true church remains clean. And that is the Holy Bible. No worldly institution can represent GOD. You people need to wise up and learn the FACTS. If you are truly determined to serve GOD, then you will make the sacrifices needed to do so. By opening the Book to learn and grow. Instead of relying upon someone who serves a committee. The Holy Spirit thrives unpredictably and spontaneously. We never know when we are going to be inspired or “moved”. You cannot simply create a schedule for divinity. Churches are misled and dead wrong.

    Again. While I am in full agreement that public schools are BAD. And that all children should be home schooled, since parents are delegated to mentor GOD’s children. I also think that liars will tell a truth to promote something bad. Catholics are the prime example out of all institutions. They have celebrities and all kinds of degenerates flocking to them. Because it’s easy to be saved in that church. Just as for forgiveness from a priest. And pay your membership fee. That’s all you need to do. GOD will eventually crumble down that church. I am sure of it.

    1. So, you’re saying you engage in bigotry? Because you know nothing of what you speak, yet you attempt to speak authoritatively. Are you open to truth and reason?

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