That was 1983. So how has education fared in the last thirty years and billions of dollars later? In short, multiple studies indicate that little if any progress has been made in the area of student achievement. Because of this, the federal government continues to issue more and more educational directives through the Department of Education and its sponsored agencies. The plans are incentivized through alluring funding schemes.
The Tenth Amendment places the responsibility of education with the states and the local educational agencies (LEAs). This jurisdiction has been reinforced repeatedly in legislation such as the Department of Education Organization Act of 1979 and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. The rationale is that states and LEAs know better the local conditions and what is needed to educate their children.
Most Christians in our circles are fairly conservative regarding these issues and are wary of the federal government’s involvement in education. Most would agree that there should be no national curriculum, no national assessment, no national database of students, and no national teacher certification. However, in each of these areas strong inroads have been made. In Congress, the ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) is past-due for reauthorization. The House has passed a conservative bill which maintains the exclusions mentioned earlier. The Senate has yet to pass a bill, but the current version gives wide authority to the federal government.
As I consider the legislative efforts, I am reminded of the verse in 2 Timothy 3:7, which describes the last days as ones in which people are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” As Christians, we recognize that the responsibility of education does not belong to the federal government, nor does it belong to the states and LEAs; rather, God expects parents and churches to teach their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) “that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Psalm 78:7). Paul challenges Timothy to “study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). A disciple is to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). As a child, Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). And just as Christ taught His disciples, He admonishes believers to “go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Based on these passages and others, it is apparent that God assigned the task of educating children to the parents and the church--and not to government, whether the federal government or state and local governments. Nowhere in Scripture is government given the responsibility of educating children.
It is interesting to note that as God and His Word remain as the foundation and focus of Christian education, Christian school students have consistently outperformed the public school students on student achievement scores by more than 20 percentage points. The key to student achievement is not filling minds with facts--but rather, filling hearts with the love of God.
Whose responsibility is it to educate our children? God has given that responsibility to parents and churches. Later in 2 Timothy 3, Christians are admonished to “continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”