The Harsh Truth About Public Schools could just as easily be called The Scary Truth About Public Schools. While Bruce Shortt tackles the normal concerns (spiritual, moral, academic, ideological and physical failure and danger), he explores each one so much more deeply than authors of similar books that the reader is left physically exhausted. From outright pagan rituals and Lucifer-worship to the promotion of promiscuous sex to students toting guns through the school halls, the harsh truth about public schools is that it's wrong for Christian parents to send their kids to them.
That's the distinguishing mark of Shortt—whereas homeschool apologists typically say government schools are unsuitable for Christian kids and that homeschooling is the right choice, he goes so far as to call things by their rightful names, and asserts that for Christian parents to send their children to such immoral places is to sin. It not only puts kids in serious danger, it threatens their spiritual lives by exposing them to attacks from the enemy they aren't yet ready to counter. The only response is to get them out.
Don't think this is mere sensationalism. Each case Shortt references is exactingly documented (the endnotes section is nearly 100 pages long!), and he proves, if nothing else by sheer weight of example, that the cases he presents are not exceptions but have become accepted norms. Some of the stories are mind-boggling, like the one about the New York school that had students participating in Mother Earth worship and bizarre pagan practices, or the teachers who openly teach students that gnomes tell them what to do.
And that doesn't even cover the really bad stuff, though some of that is less clearly bizarre. Shortt chronicles the evolution of the modern public school movement through the philosophies of Horace Mann and John Dewey, lapsed Protestant orthodoxy, and anti-Christian government agencies. School reform is impossible, he asserts, since Christians have too long abdicated and because the government school system has grown too strong. The only recourse for Christians is orthodox Christian schools and homeschooling.
This isn't armchair reading. The Harsh Truth About Public Schools is very harsh, and while Shortt writes well and concisely, it's still a long book and the lists of horrors go on for pages and pages. It's worth reading cover to cover, however. The arguments are compelling, particularly the one that forcing kids into government schools is forcing them to be unequally yoked to the world. Shortt does end on a note of hope, pointing to the blessings that come from teaching Christian children in a Christian environment; anyone who doubts the importance of this needs to read this book immediately.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Table of Contents:
- Why Are You Educating Your Children at a Pagan Seminary?
- Do You Like Your Daughter's Nose-ring and Tongue Stud?
- My Child Is On the Honor Roll
- A Blackboard Jungle
- School Reform: A Popular Delusion
- Government Schools: The Wages of Christian Sin
- Are Your Children Unequally Yoked?
- Leading Your Children into the Promised Land of Homeschooling and Christian Schools
Postscript to Teachers and Administrators
A Note on Endnotes and Finding Web Pages
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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