Does God have a plan for public schools?

At a 2001 gathering of conservative Christian philanthropists, [Betsy DeVos] singled out education reform as a way to “advance God’s kingdom.” In an interview, she and her husband, Richard DeVos Jr., said that school choice would lead to “greater kingdom gain.” —Katherine Stewart, “Betsy DeVos and God’s Plan for Schools”

While I am not a Biblical scholar I am sure that the word “love” appears in its text more often than “free market,” vouchers,” or “charter schools.”

Although I am deeply distrustful of anyone who seems to have direct access to God’s thinking about public education, like, say Betsy DeVos, I think it likely that God would:

• Be outraged in the style of the Old Testament about the poverty in which far too many children and their families live.

• See great merit in teaching young people the skills of social and emotional intelligence, given the Biblical emphasis on love and forgiveness, although I may be going out on a religious and curricular limb here.

• Be deeply concerned about children being sent to schools whose only merit is that they satisfy the ideology of their rich and therefore politically influential patrons.

If God has a political ideology, it probably is “love thy neighbor.”

To verify the accuracy of what I just wrote, I had a brief and long overdue conversation with God about all of this, and although His voice was soft and sometimes indistinct, I am confident I heard Him (or maybe Her) say that Betsy DeVos should not be confirmed as United States Secretary of Education.

10 Responses to “Does God have a plan for public schools?”

  1. 1 Vicky December 14, 2016 at 7:06 am

    And the congregation said, “Amen”.

  2. 2 Ann Delehant December 14, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Thank you for this today. Can we get you to lobby to defeat this and oh so many of these appointments? I’m so horrified.

    Sent from my iPhone Ann Delehant 585-750-4499


  3. 3 Thomas De Bello December 14, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    While many Americans were busy “protecting their second amendment rights, it looks like we’re giving away our first amendment rights. Constitution states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” But I suspect that God trumps the founding fathers. Yeah, it was a cheap pun.

  4. 7 Bruce Strong December 14, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    I just quickly read over this and was immediately offended by many of your comments. I would love to share my thoughts on the need for God to be part of our public school system and the importance of private christian education for some families. I am not a voucher fan, but certainly didn’t appreciate your comment implying that those who attend christian schools are rich and politically influential. My parents sacrificed greatly to send me to a private school after filing bankruptcy and the christian education I received changed my life. They are not nor will they ever be rich, have never accepted a hand out and don’t want political influence. I have read and enjoyed your writings up until this point. I am a public school administrator and love the public school but am saddened by many of the things taught in our system and have no problem with someone who feels a private education is desirable for their children. If our Public schools took a little more care in accepting Christians and their beliefs a little more, most of them would not be looking elsewhere.

    • 8 Dennis Sparks December 15, 2016 at 9:19 am

      Thank you, Bruce, for your comment and the opportunity it provides for me to further explain my thinking.

      First, I apologize if you felt offended by what I wrote. That certainly was not my intention.

      I have no objection to Christian and other private schools. Nor do I object to people of whatever means using their financial resources to send their children to such schools.

      But I do object to rich people using their very deep pockets to create public schools for everyone’s children that fit their religious and secular ideologies.

      As our Founders made clear, church and state are to remain separate, which means that public schools funded with public money cannot be allowed to promote a particular religion.

      Likewise, DeVos’ secular faith in an unfettered free market for public education must be challenged.

      In a New Yorker piece, “Betsy DeVos and the Plan to Break Public Schools,” Rebecca Mead describes the negative effects of that faith here in Michigan. The article concludes:

      “Missing in the ideological embrace of choice for choice’s sake is any suggestion of the public school as a public good—as a centering locus for a community and as a shared pillar of the commonweal, in which all citizens have an investment.”

      You can read the entire article here:

  5. 9 Gail Kinsey December 15, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Thank you.

  6. 10 Joel Reynolds December 16, 2016 at 12:44 am


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