Book Review: “Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School”

When the idea of this website took root in my heart, “Public on Purpose” was the original title I had in mind. However, when I mentioned the idea to Mark and he had “happened” to have written, but never published, a book on the subject years before called “Going Public” we went with his quirky title. I went so far as to register the domain name, “ChristiansGoingPublic.com”, but when I went to search for it on Google, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a book already written by that name!

The book “Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School” was written by David and Kelli Pritchard of Tacoma, WA (just a few hours away from us). Parents of eight children themselves and other children they took in along the way, they provide great guidance for families with their kids in public school.

Before starting this site, I had searched for resources to help Christians with kids in public school, but did not find many at all. As far as I can find, this book is one of a kind and it is worthy of reading.

This book does not take a stand that public school is the only right choice over other options like homeschooling or private school. Instead, they think we should all actively seek God in our decision making. They also recognize that a majority of Christian children do attend public school, so we need to provide help for doing it successfully, just like we, at Public on Purpose, do.

The book points out parent’s role in the education of their children. We can’t leave it all up to the school. As they quoted from Missionary author Elisabeth Elliot, “There’s never been a time when children could be raised without sacrifice and discipline on the part of the parents.” The book gives many practical ways for parents to train and support their children’s education.

Homeschooling is also a focus in the book in the regard that we should all be “homeschooling”. The couple says, “Yes! We definitely homeschool our children…and starting at age five, we also send them to public school to get more information.” We have the responsibility as parents to make sure our children are getting an appropriate academic and moral education. We must see ourselves as teachers. “Education is not primarily about “them” (the school). It belongs to us first and foremost.” Remember that we need to prepare our children for being sent out. “If you fear that the tide of influence will run the other way – that public-school classmates will drag your child down from his or her standards – then this means you have some training yet to do.”

I particularly enjoyed the chapter on the importance of sending your child to school with self-control. “The child with self-control has been trained to tell himself yes or no, based on certain criteria.” It gave me a focus for why I train my children the way I do. I want them to be able to control themselves when I am not around. This affects many behaviors and attitudes where I sometimes let their behavior at home slip. Now, I take action to help them correct behaviors so that they want to change them and will do so on their own.

The book also addresses that fear cannot be a reason that we don’t put our children in public school. “The issue is not whether we trust school officials to always do the right thing. The issue is whether we trust ‘that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ (Romans 8:28)” Our God is bigger than our society. If we prayerfully consider our ways and motivations, we can trust Him to protect and use our children and families even in public school.

In an interview with Focus on the Family at the beginning of this school year, David and Kelli Pritchard also shared that they believe you need to consider “each kid, each year”. This is what helped me in my decision to pull one of my daughters to homeschool her for the rest of the year. I felt like it was the right thing for her for this time.

There is so much more in this book that will help you in your public schooling journey and I can’t share it all, so grab a copy for yourself. If you have read any other good resources on Christians in public school, please leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to review other material.

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About Shawna Wright

Shawna Wright has three daughters currently in 4th, 7th, and 9th grades. While she graduated college with a degree in Chemical Engineering, she chose to stay home and begin raising her family. She and her husband, Michael, purposefully chose to put their children in the public school system with much prayer and perseverance. Shawna volunteers in the local school district. She is also a hobby web designer, writer, speaker, graphic artist and Director of Communications at her church. Her heart's desire is to be a light in her community and help her own children to be lights in theirs.
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