Rod Dreher to Christian Parents: Pull Your Kids Out of Public Schools

Rod Dreher, best-selling author and senior editor at The American Conservative, has strongly argued against public education for years, recently warning of the “straight-up ideological indoctrination” making its way into curriculums. For children of Christian parents, he advocates for a Christian classical education (whether in a school or homeschool). In his recent bestselling book, The Benedict Option, he minces no words:

Because public education in America is neither rightly ordered, nor religiously informed, nor able to form an imagination devoted to Western civilization, it is time for all Christians to pull their children out of the public school system. If those reasons weren’t already enough, the corrosive effect of the toxic peer culture found among students in many public schools (as well as private ones) would confirm the case…Plus, public schools by nature are on the front lines of the latest and worst trends in popular culture. (155)

Elsewhere, Dreher writes of the commitment necessary from parents to counter the cultural torrent of progressivism:

There is not going to be any middle ground. Either you are firmly and consciously countercultural, or you and your kids are going to be swept along with the broader culture. One of my sources, an immigrant from a Soviet bloc country, told me that his US-born children were educated in well-regarded suburban public schools, and that the woke curriculum there, as well as the progressive ethos among the other students, overcame all his stories and warnings from his youth about where wokeness leads.

Dreher describes a classical Christian education as “built by marrying the Greco-Roman ideal that the purpose of education is to cultivate virtue and wisdom, to the traditional Christian worldview.” Further, “Classical Christian education takes a Great Books approach to the curriculum. It presents the canonical Western texts and works of art to students, using a medieval structure called the Trivium” (160).

About the series: Around the country there are influential voices in various fields who have spoken carefully and constructively on education. In the Prominent Voices series, you’ll hear from some of them. The goal of the series is to gain perspective and sharpen our thinking about the issues, even where differences may be apparent.