Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Public School Education

A few weeks ago Al Mohler's new book, Culture Shift, came out. One of the chapters is entitled "Needed: An Exit Strategy for Public Schools." I have not read the book, but have read a few articles and blog posts about this chapter (see below). This topic is very near to my heart. When we were first planning to move to Memphis, one of the first questions that came up was, "Where are you going to send Adam for school?" We were told that the public school system was in a mess, and we would most likely end up moving out of the city when Adam turned five. We knew that it was going to take longer than 4 or 5 years to see a church started, so we had to find other options.

In our first year in Cooper-Young, we started learning about Peabody Elementary School. Last April we held a forum at the school, and discovered that the question of where to send our children was near to a lot of people's hearts. We discovered that many of our friends desired to live holistic lives that revolved around their neighborhood. They didn't want to leave the city, and neither did they want their kids going to school outside of the city. Mandy is now on the leadership council at Peabody, even though she teaches at a different elementary school. We have been so encouraged by what we have seen there. In three weeks we are going to have a new playground. The CYCA, Peabody, Home Depot, and a nonprofit called Kaboom have teamed up to build a playground on March 20. This is going to be such an exciting time for our neighborhood and our school.

I am proud of our little church because everyone is behind this. And I'm definitely proud of my wife, because she has played such a large role in getting much of this off the ground.

When I hear someone say that we need an exit strategy from public school, I am saddened. On one hand, I want to be live with a lot of grace in this issue . My child is not in school yet, so who am I to judge someone for choosing one way or the other. This is not an easy decision. I would like to think that all of us will stay in this neighborhood and fully support the public school, but I want to be realistic. I'm sure that some of us will end up moving out of the city or sending our children to private school. That, however, is not going to stop me from working hard to try to get more and more people to consider public education.

As a follower of Jesus, I feel that this is one of my roles. I'm getting ready to preach from Genesis 12 in a few weeks. God's covenant with Abraham was that he and his descendants would be order that they might be a blessing to the world. I desire to be a blessing to my neighborhood and my city. The only way that will happen is for me to be a part of my neighborhood and city. That's why incarnational ministry is so essential. The original incarnation featured Jesus (aka God) becoming flesh and blood like us and moving into our neighborhood. Praise God for that!

I'll leave you with one resource. This is a blog post from Scot McKnight's site. Read the comments as well. As of now there are 136 of them.


Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

I understand everything you've written - and admire the heck out of you & Mandy for your choices. We came to a different decision for us - you can read about it at

Note: what's not really clear in the post is that we are involved in our community as a family (through sports) and as a church... I am NOT isolationist in any way, shape or form.

Robert said...

That's a good word, Mark. I read your post, and I admit that I'm torn at times. I think homeschooling is our second choice right now (before private school). If it's ok with you (I'm actually not going to wait for you to respond), I'm going to link to your post :)