An advocate of a Southern Baptist “exit strategy” from public schools says he wants to “bankrupt the American educational establishment one student at a time,” because otherwise true educational reform is impossible.
Voddie Baucham is co-sponsor of an education resolution being submitted to the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention Resolutions Committee, urging Southern Baptist churches to create more Christian schools. The Resolution Committee’s first report is scheduled for 9:10 a.m. Wednesday.
Baucham, an author, conference leader and preaching pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, says he doesn’t expect Southern Baptist churches around America to respond by pulling their children en masse out of public schools, but he does intend to make harder for Christians to ignore the issue of their children’s education.
Baucham said in a recent blog he believes the overwhelming majority of Christians who send their children to the corner school bus haven’t seriously thought about alternatives to government schools.
Baucham said the current public school system harms children academically, socially, morally, emotionally and spiritually, and that Christian parents have an obligation “to do whatever they can to see to it that their children receive a Christian education.”
Baucham said he doesn’t agree with those who argue the public vs. private school question is a matter of personal choice, because the Bible is not silent on the education issue. His foundational text is Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Baucham says education also has implications for developing a worldview, morality and evangelism.
Opponents to a Southern Baptist “exit strategy” from public schools accuse Baucham of ignoring the Bible’s command to be “salt and light” in society, but he believes the opposite is true. In order to be salt and light, he says, Christians must be distinct and different from the prevailing culture. That doesn’t happen if as young people they are assimilated by a secular institution that undermines teaching of church and home.
Baucham says he does not believe that every child who goes to a government school is doomed, or that every Christian school kid is destined to be a saint. But the bottom line, he says, it is not a question of pragmatism but an issue of pursuing righteousness.
“I want to live by the book to the best of my ability,” he wrote. “I want to listen to Dr. Jesus and not Dr. Phil when it comes to raising, training and educating my children.”
Baucham said one of his goals is to see Christian children receive an education that centers on Christ, and he wants the opportunity to be available to both the rich and poor.
Another goal, Baucham says, is: “I want the government out of the education business” and for all education to be privatized and government by the individual states.
“I want to free all children from the academically inferior, spiritually bankrupt, economically irresponsible, morally reprehensible educational system,” Baucham wrote. “I want to see competition for students serve as the tide that raises all educational ships. Thus, I want to bankrupt the American educational establishment one student at a time.”
“Every child we get out of the school system represents $5,000 to $8,000 taken out of the coffers of the educational establishment,” Baucham continued. “A loss of 20 percent would send the system into a tailspin. This is already happening in places like Detroit and San Francisco.”
Why would anyone want to do that? “Because the government education system cannot be reformed,” Baucham argued. “It is rooted in Secular Humanism and flawed at its very core. We cannot mend it; we must end it. If the system loses enough money it will have to be scrapped.”
Only then, Baucham said, will there be true educational reform. “Government monopolies are rife with inertia and destined for mediocrity,” he said. “Only when its lifeblood is cut off will those who profit from it wake up.”
Baucham’s proposed resolution, co-sponsored with Houston attorney Bruce Shortt, affirms comments attributed to current SBC President Frank Page following his election last year in Greensboro, N.C., that he would like to see more churches begin offering Christian schools and to make them available to children who currently cannot afford a private education.
Baucham and Shortt submitted the resolution May 2 to the SBC Resolutions Committee, which can choose to bring it to the floor for vote, ignore it, or use portions of it in drafting a resolution of their own.
The committee killed a 2004 resolution proposed by Shortt and co-sponsors T.C. Pinckney urging a mass exodus from public schools, while adopting a more generic resolution warning against “secularization” of culture, including public schools.
In 2005 the Resolutions Committee combined a resolution submitted by Shortt and Baucham with another education resolution to call on Southern Baptist parents and churches to investigate whether their local schools to see whether they promote homosexuality.
The 2005 SBC resolution urged Christian parents “to fully embrace their responsibility to make prayerful and informed decisions regarding where and how they educate their children, whether they choose public, private, or home schooling, to ensure their physical, moral, emotional, and spiritual well-being, with a goal of raising godly men and women who are thoroughly equipped to live as fully devoted followers of Christ.”
That isn’t possible in public schools today, Baucham and Shortt say in the new resolution they’re proposing this year, because of curricula, court rulings and the influence of teacher unions that contribute to an “anti-Christian” school system. They say generations of relying on public schools to disciple Southern Baptist children contribute to a lack of vitality in churches by turning out “unregenerate” children and adults that populate the membership rolls of Southern Baptist congregations.
Last year Shortt, along with SBC Executive Committee member Roger Moran, proposed a resolution calling on Southern Baptists to heed a call by Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler for responsible Christian parents to develop an “exit strategy” from public schools.
The Resolutions Committee incorporated some of Shortt and Moran’s criticism of public education its own resolution, but instead of withdrawal it called for attempting to reform public education through engagement, suggesting that Christians run for school boards in order to exert “godly influence” on public schools.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.