I have no particular desire to pick on Mr. Challies, or to “throw him under the bus” as some accused, but I would be remiss if I did not make one more note after his latest post “Why My Family Doesn’t Do Sleepovers.” I agree with the sentiments expressed in this more recent effort. I just wish the Tim Challies who wrote this post would have been around for the ones on public schooling. Instead, the good stuff today contrasts with the older to provide one more clear example of what I previously called “schizophrenia of worldview.”
I’ll try to keep this short. In the latest post against sleepovers, Challies cites James Dobson approvingly:
Sadly, the world has changed in the last few decades, and it is no longer a safe place for children. Pedophiles and child molesters are more pervasive than ever. That is why parents must be diligent to protect their kids every hour of the day and night. …
Until you have dealt with little victims as I have and seen the pain in their eyes, you might not fully appreciate the devastation inflicted by molestation. It casts a long shadow on everything that follows, including future marital relationships. Therefore, parents have to think the unthinkable in every situation. The threat can come from anywhere—including neighbors, uncles, stepfathers, grandfathers, Sunday school teachers, coaches, music instructors, Scout leaders, and babysitters. Even public bathrooms can be dangerous today…
Challies not only agrees with this, he thinks the situation is worse than Dobson did: “the risk is that much higher today than it was decades ago.”
Like I said, I agree with this. I follow basically the same policy in regard to sleepovers, though perhaps I would make a few more exceptions depending upon the families involved.
What struck me in reading this over the weekend was just how opposite this mentality is from the one Challies exhibited in regard to the public school environment. The quotation he cites from Dobson even mentions coaches—which ought to alert one to the obvious categories of people missing from the list, public school teachers and public school children and peers.
7. THE TEACHERS ARE YOUR FRIENDS
We have encountered many teachers over the past ten years, and our experiences have almost all been very positive. It is easy to caricature teachers as being unapologetic leftists or vile perverts who are out to corrupt and destroy our children. But we have found that teachers love our kids and take joy in their success. . . . In our experience the caricatures have been unfair. We do far better to regard the teachers as our friends and allies.
Now when I read these opinions all together, the question naturally arises: why does Challies (like so many other Christians) hold public school teachers to an entirely different standard than everyone else? Why are other parents and leaders and children all without question “off the table” because they may, you never know, be potential child molesters, and yet at the same time, it is almost without question just as wrong even to intimate that this may be the case in public school relationships?
Let me be clear: this mental disconnect is the very worldview schizophrenia of which I spoke before. It is irrational, partisan, and delusional.
Delusional, especially when you consider stories like this “The Big List” compiled by WND.com. This list contains hundreds of female public school teachers who seduced young men. It is thirteen web-pages long. Note: these are only females, only teachers, and only the ones that got caught or confessed to authorities. This list does not include men, child peers, and the ones who got away with it.
Just so you don’t think this is an isolated opinion, even neocon Ann Coulter recognized this problem in probably the best piece she’s ever written, the chapter “The Liberal Priesthood: Spare the Rod, Spoil the Teacher” in her book Godless. She writes,
Why are “educators” in government schools the only people on Earth who must universally be spoken of in hushed tones of religious worship? As it happens, public schools rival Enron when it comes to financial scandals and have more sex scandals per year than Catholic priests—thirty times more. But don’t mention it or you’ll be accused of hating teachers.1
One could add “hating children” as well. And Coulter has the stats to back up her claim:
In addition to grand theft, disorderly conduct, weapons charges, and attempted murder, there were also 180 claims of sexual abuse by New York City public school teachers in 2005—all before May. . . .
Analyzing the data from a survey by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, statistics professor Carol Shakeshaft estimates between 1991 and 2000, roughly 290,000 students were subjected to physical sexual abuse by teachers or other school personnel. In her report for the U.S. Department of Education, Shakeshaft says that about one in every ten American children has been sexually abused in some way at school.2
Now again, I am no Coulter fan, but she shows more sense on public education here than do most Christians, including, apparently, Tim Challies.
Why should not the Challies who wrote against sleep overs due to fear of sexual deviancy not also pull his kids from public schools, where the problem is far more extensively documented, over the same reason? There is no good answer to this question. This one sole reason alone should be enough to abandon government schools.
One simply wonders what it is about certain Christians that they wield two standards so obviously contradictory in their lives—especially when their children are at stake. What is it about the golden calf of public schooling? Are we that deeply sucked into the convenience of all-day “free” babysitting? Are we that far deluded by convenience? This is living in denial at the highest level.
Again, I have no intent to pick on Challies in particular. He’s merely a helpful vignette into the average evangelical soul on this problem. Considering the lack of consistency and the double standards assumed, that’s a very troubled soul indeed.