Because I am a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I am periodically sent products to review and write about. I’ve been wanting to watch IndoctriNation – Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America, from Great Commission Films for quite some time. I received a physical DVD of the film, IndoctriNation by filmmaker Colin Gunn. This documentary is recommended for adults and is about 102 minutes long.
At first, I was excited about watching the DVD and writing this review… but as I watched it, I grew increasingly uncomfortable (keep reading… I promise to explain). The video is very well put together and very enlightening. It sheds light on the decline of our public school system. The filmmaker, Colin Gunn, does an excellent job of recounting the history of education in America. He asks 5 tough questions:
- Who established the American school system?
- Are my kids physically and morally safe in the schools?
- Are the public schools religiously neutral?
- Should Christians try to be “salt and light” in public schools?
- Can the public school system be fixed or redeemed?
You can watch the trailer here:
Please know that as I write this review, I am coming from the perspective of a former public school teacher. I have friends who teach in public schools. I know some wonderful people who have dedicated their lives to children through the public school. I know there are exceptions to the rule. I know that blanket statements cannot be made when it comes to the state of education in America. This is why I became uncomfortable while watching the DVD. I was concerned about the light in which public schools, where I was once a teacher would be painted. In all honesty, I think this film does a wonderful job confirming the decision that many of us make to homeschool our children. I am not sure, however, that it would be well received by many who have chosen traditional school. Because of the tone, it might set people on the defensive from the get go, therefore negating the purpose for which it seems to be intended.
Here are a few things that I learned from watching IndoctriNation:
– 90% of Christians in America send their children to public schools
– 14 countries rank higher than America in reading
– 1/3 of kids in America are dropping out of public schools
– In some schools in America, children as young as kindergarten have access to condoms… no questions asked. Parents do not have to know and will not be told if their child is receiving such things.
– 10% of kids in public schools have been targeted for sexual attention from school staff
There is a debate within the Christian church in American where public schools are concerned. Some, such as Franklin Graham believe that we should train our children as evangelists and strategically place them in classrooms to take back our schools. Others, such as Albert Mohler, believe we need to have an exit strategy… that public schools are no longer a place for our children.
I am glad I watched this video, for information purposes. He interviews educators, administrators, politicians and even recent graduates to find out what type of experiences they have as believers working in the public school system. Many people he interviews share the lack of freedom and even the loss of employment they’ve experienced as they’ve tried to be “salt and light” in the public schools. Gunn comes to the conclusion that it is nearly impossible to truly speak out for Christ and remain employed in the public school system.
He tracks the development of public education from the beginning of America. He is very specific as he illustrates how different philosophies came in a replaced the Bible as the foundation for education in America. Gunn shares in an illustrated timeline of how man’s law replaced God’s law when it comes to educating our children. As a result, Christianity in America as well as the public education system have faced a break down.
I did an informal survey of my friends who are Christians, teaching in the public schools here in the Bible belt. I wanted to see if they too experience the things that were highlighted in the video. Do they feel freedom to share their faith? Are they asked to teach things that contradict the Bible? Are their consequences for being openly Christian? I was surprised… the results were right down the middle. Half who answered said they were totally free to share the gospel and never asked to teach compromising curriculum. The other half were not free and would be disciplined. They said they have no voice in what curriculum is taught.
I want to take a minute to share from my own experiences in public school. I taught in a small town. I taught in a calm neighborhood. I taught in a very unassuming place in the middle of the Bible belt, yet:
– One of my fellow teachers was arrested for sexual inappropriateness with a student (I taught in an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL)
– One of my students (4 YEARS OLD) pulled a knife on another student
– teachers across the hall from me yelled and berated their students, shaming them unmercifully (KINDERGARTEN) and went unpunished by the administration
– teachers (church going women) threw things out of anger at the children
– a child stole money from my office on my first day of teaching
– a teacher was threatened with losing her job if she prayed with her students before lunch
– the day we were taught about tolerance in the schools (at my Christian college), it was a presentation on Islam where the Bible was degraded and misquoted. I was sternly told by the professors that I was rude and needed to be quiet when I corrected the speaker.
My friends, I KNOW there are exceptions to the rule. I know WONDERFUL, AMAZING teachers are in the public school system. But how can I guarantee my children will get that diamond in the rough? If I am teaching my children to fear the Lord, to trust the Bible and to know that God is real… yet I send them to a school that contradicts such teaching… what does that say? If I am telling my child to trust their teacher and listen to what they say… but they are saying things that go against God’s word, that is confusing for my child.
Whatever you chose… public school, private school, homeschool… please don’t go blindly into it. Be informed. Be involved. Have a vision for your child’s education. Watching IndoctriNation only served to confirm our choice to homeschool. I pray that we will be able to homeschool all the way through with each of our children. I do not know what the future holds. I am very purposeful not to villainize traditional school for my children. However, I will continue to stay informed. I am passionate about homeschooling, just as many of my public school friends are passionate about where they teach. And that, I think, is as it should be. You should believe in what you are doing to the glory of the Lord.