Authors Anthony and Benson discuss the following changes in Christian Education in America in a few general areas:
– The migration from Europe to the Americas and the establishment of Christian education in colonial America which generally adhered to foundational principles and ideals
– The expression of Dewey’s nineteenth century philosophy of pragmatism and naturalism across all of American education, and the growing importance of democracy as a means of fending off the criminalization of any discussion of belief (personal, historic, or otherwise) in the classroom.
– The dominant liberalization of education (1900-1940), neo-orthodox response (1940-1970) and recent developments including the Montessori Method and growth of evangelical academic institutions as preferred options for secondary and higher education.
The three most significant changes have been:
– The abdication of the family in its primary role of the Christian upbringing of children, and parental involvement in adolescent and early education. In great measure this was caused by the demands of working households, but also in willingly accepting the larger and larger role that taxpayer-funded liberal education played in the developmental lives of children. This has somewhat been replaced by the Bible School movement in the late 19th century and our contemporary home school movement of the past several decades, though the fact that it is seen as the exception rather than the rule for primary education expresses just how far we have come from this point.
– The loss of the Bible as the foundational textbook for morality, history, and literature. When the United States Supreme Court decided in Engel v. Vitale (June 25, 1962) that a prayer approved by the New York Board of Regents for use in schools violated the First Amendment because it represented establishment of religion, it signaled a victory for social humanism and a defeat for moral values within our publicly-funded school systems.
Clearly these two changes have been negative and devastating. William Jaynes describes five negative developments in the nation’s public schools since the removal of prayer and Bibles:
• Academic achievement has plummeted, including SAT scores.
• Increased rate of out-of-wedlock births
• Increase in illegal drug use
• Increase in juvenile crime
• Deterioration of school behavior
A third is the rise of evangelists at a time when Americans were looking for meaningful existence, and when God had determined the appropriate time to emphasize the spreading of the Gospel to un-churched peoples around the world. It both speaks to the infinite power of the Gospel, but also to the urgent need to seek and save the lost.