At a time of the year when many parents are beginning to send their children back to school, homeschool mother Gena Suarez is doing all she can to convince parents to keep them at home.
Suarez, who with her husband, Paul, publishes The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, recently began a daily blog detailing what she views as dangers in the public-school system.
Her advice to parents: "Keep them home where they belong. God gave them to you, and He will hold us all responsible for our choices, and that includes WHAT we do (or don't do) with our children all day long. You have a God-given opportunity to shape them, mold them to be like Christ. And you will be blessed."
She urges pastors to support parents who come to realize "the public school system is no place for Christian children." Suarez reported a meeting where a woman told her husband her pastor not only didn't support her but told her she was irresponsible to homeschool.
"Pastors!" she chastised. "Not only should you be supporting her, you should be guiding your flock AWAY from things which hate God. Be an example. Homeschool (or at the very least, Christian school) your children and teach others to do the same. You are in the 'business' of saving souls, remember? Or did you forget? Your words and actions are being watched, emulated, everyday…. We no longer have the excuse of 'not knowing;' it's time to act."
The Suarezes, who recently moved from California to east Tennessee, began publishing The Old Schoolhouse Magazine in the summer of 2001. Today it is a quarterly 200-page glossy magazine with more than 20,000 subscribers worldwide that is described "like a homeschool convention in a magazine."
The couple attends a non-denominational church, but the blog often mentions the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the most fertile areas right now for growth in a movement of devout parents who are removing their kids from public schools they view as counterproductive to nurturing them in the faith.
Broadman & Holman, an imprint of the SBC publisher LifeWay Christian Resources, published the couple's new book Homeschooling Methods in February and sells it on the LifeWay Web site.
In an interview on at LifeWay.com, Paul and Gena Suarez said what they like best about homeschooling their four children is: "The freedom. The fun of it all. We like a child-directed environment where everyone is interested in what he/she is doing."
The goal for their magazine, they continued, is to unite the homeschool community and provide a variety of options and methods.
"Each family is unique, but we have a common thread: We willingly make the sacrifices that are necessary in order to educate our children in the way that we believe is best and take the responsibility for that task. Many different homeschooling methods are represented in our magazine so that families can choose one or a combination of several that are right for them.
"We want to provide encouragement and a wide array of resources for all, from those still considering homeschooling to veteran homeschoolers. We hope to encourage and strengthen homeschoolers to persevere in their calling to educate and disciple their children in the home; to provide information and support; to do this work in the best way possible for each individual family for the glory of God."
Suarez's Aug. 9 blog discussed comments by recently elected SBC president Frank Page, who said he is disturbed at the vast number of kids who leave their faith once they graduate from high school. Page told Agape Press it's even a problem for Christian schools.
"What does that tell you, Dr. Page?" she commented. "Don't stop the thought process there--bring it to its logical conclusion, please." She said the common thread is the "away from home" factor.
"When you stick a bunch of kids together with very little supervision, very little challenging instructions, and a whole lot of nonsensical teaching (death studies, whiteness studies, new math, creative spelling, gay and lesbian tolerance classes), what do you get? A lot of little fools who all drop to the lowest possible common denominator."
"Dr. Page here is asking kids to remain strong, basically, to be 'salt and light' as they attend institution day in and day out--without their parents to guide them. And then he scratches his head and shrugs his shoulders over the fact kids are going to hell, that kids who started out in Christian homes have turned their backs on their own Savior. He hasn't made the connection, apparently. Isn't this important enough to do something about? SBC--wake up. Tell your pastors to reach into the hearts of their families and urge the parents to keep their children home where they belong."
"I don't want to miss the biggest boat of all--the salvation of my children," she said. "If they are cast into outer darkness for eternity, then what good were all the prom and homecoming experiences they got to have, the girl scout troops, opportunities to ride the school bus, the overnight band trips, cheerleading try-outs (predator-bait), the 'first date' and 'first kiss' they got to have when they were 14 years old?
"Forget it. Stop being brainwashed to believe that these are good things. That's the world talking. They don't need the public school experience, contrary to what even CHRISTIANS are insisting upon--what a lie they've bought into. There's not a lot of time here to mess around; your children grow up too fast. Use your time wisely. Sacrifice for the Lord's sake, for your children's sake. Keep them home."
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.