Unashamedly Teaching All Things from a Biblical Perspective Without Government Funds and Government Restrictions
Unfortunately, each year misinformation about Public Charter Schools seems to get passed around among homeschoolers. We thought we would take some space to address some important points that we hope will clear up some of the misinformation.
I. Parts of California law that address giving a religious education [emphasis through bold and italics are ours]:
California State Constitution
Article 9, Section 8. No public money shall ever be appropriated for the support of any sectarian [religious] or denominational school, or any school not under the exclusive control of the officers of the public schools; nor shall any sectarian or denominational doctrine be taught, or instruction thereon be permitted, directly or indirectly, in any of the common schools* of this State. (* A common school is understood to be a public school.)
California Education Code
California Education Code, Section 47615
(a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) Charter schools are part of the Public School System, as defined in Article IX of the California Constitution.
(2) Charter schools are under the jurisdiction of the Public School System and the exclusive
control of the officers of the public schools, as provided in this part.
(3) Charter schools shall be entitled to full and fair funding, as provided in this part.
California Education Code, Section 47605(c)(1) Charter schools shall meet all statewide standards and conduct the pupil assessments required pursuant to Sections 60605 and 60851 and any other statewide standards authorized in statute or pupil assessments applicable to pupils in noncharter public schools.
California Education Code, Section 47605(d)(1) In addition to any other requirement imposed under this part, a charter school shall be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations, shall not charge tuition, and shall not discriminate against any pupil on the basis of the characteristics listed in Section 220.
California Education Code, Section 60044 A governing board shall not adopt any instructional materials for use in the schools that, in its determination, contain:
(a) Any matter reflecting adversely upon persons on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, or sexual orientation, occupation, or because of a characteristic listed in Section 220.
(b) Any sectarian or denominational doctrine or propa-ganda contrary to law.
California Education Code, Section 60605(a)(1)
(A) Not later than January 1, 1998, the state board shall adopt statewide academically rigorous content standards, pursuant to the recommendations of the Commission for the Establishment of Academic Content and Performance Standards, in the core curriculum areas of reading, writing, and mathematics to serve as the basis for assessing the academic achievement of individual pupils and of schools, school districts, and the California educational system. Not later than November 1, 1998, the state board shall adopt these standards in the core curriculum areas of history/social science and science.
(B) The state board shall adopt statewide performance standards in the core curriculum areas of reading, writing, mathematics, history/social science, and science based on the recommendations made by the Superintendent of a contractor or contractors.
II. One Sacramento-area school district policy (the San Juan Unified School District’s Board Policy Section 6141.2) reads:
“Factual and objective teaching about religion must be distinguished from religious indoctrination, which is clearly forbidden in public schools. The schools may teach about religion from a historical, cultural, sociological or other educational perspective, but must not favor the beliefs and customs of any particular religion or sect over any others in such teaching.”
III. Homeschool advocates’ input:
HSLDA has stated: Even if a particular charter school is saying the opposite, until the law changes, these citations are what would be legally binding on families whose children are enrolled in a charter school program.
HSLDA has further pointed out that our “response to charter schools will impact the extent to which home schooling maintains freedom from future government controls. And the California legislature certainly has passed laws about education recently that we would not want applied to our home schools.”
Nathan Pierce of Family Protection Ministries clarified that laws pertaining to public schools are even more restrictive now than in previous years.
Roy Hansen of Family Protection Ministries has written: “Some charter school administrators have claimed that since parents are not employees of the charter school, parents can provide and use their own Christian curriculum. These administrators usually suggest that the parent not report any religious books being used, and not have their children make any references to religious doctrine, or Scripture, or Christ in any assignments being turned in.
What does this teach children? It teaches them to lie. (Luke 17:1-2) It teaches them a utilitarian mindset–that the ends justify the means. It teaches them to keep quiet about their belief in God and His Word and their hope of salvation in Jesus Christ when it suits their financial interests and convenience. On the other hand, using materials based on a worldview that isn’t biblical teaches children to compartmentalize their life and to be dualistic in their worldview–to believe that God’s Word does not speak to every area of life.”
IV. Additional Comments:
Studying various religions in public schools is constitutional and informs students about the facts of religion and cultures throughout history, but this instruction must be objective and neutral. Any material that teaches from a religious point of view are, as stated, “forbidden in public schools.” Giving a student a “God-Created-the-Universe-and-Man, Jesus-is Lord-of-All, There-is-Only-One-God, and the-Bible-is-the-Foundation-of-All-Truth” education in a public charter school is not allowed by the California State Constitution and California Educational Code. No matter which Charter School administrator, teacher or parent states to the contrary, “a charter school shall be nonsectarian in … all other operations” is clear.
The issue is that some charter schools employees say that the law does not apply, because the school only deals with state standards, not the religious content of the schoolwork. The school staff says it in a way that is enthusiastic, caring and convincing. Some Christian parents who are giving their children an education centered on Christ, using Bible-centered curriculum, are convinced by the staff that doing so through the public charter school is completely permissible; but according to the laws above, how can anyone rightfully justify that it is allowed?
In fact, as I read the laws above, I seems clear to me that the government money brings with it the requirement that a Christian education cannot be provided – it prohibits using government money for a Christian education…even indirectly. Furthermore, that same government money does not bring with it a godly standard or morality. Instead, the government money brings a standard of: no religious instruction can be a part of this education. How can we pretend to serve two masters in front of our children as we educate them through a system that forbids religious instruction? These Federal and California government monies do not even bring good test scores or scholastic achievement either; California public education statistics are embarrassingly low.
God is capable of providing all we need without having to go to the government education system. What a testimony of His provision and a real-life lesson in trusting God it is for our children as well. I wish all families could test Him in this and deepen their faith as He shows Himself worthy of their trust – without compromise.