Mark Shepard
The public schools are not the biggest problem
By Mark Shepard
August 30, 2021

Virginians, like much of the nation, have been thrust into a number of very unsettling controversies by ideas being pushed upon us. With a disgraceful lack of moral and mature character, the governor steered the state's debates away from adult arenas and instead chose to put Virginia’s children in the front lines of this battle with his administration’s mandates and financial arm-twisting on public schools.

Should children be put into unhealthy masks again? Should they be taught to categorize people into inescapable castes with Critical Race Theory? Should we pretend gender is defined by feeling rather than biology? No wonder parents are upset!

But this battle of the purpose of education has been going on for a long time. John Dewey, who was very influential in creating a public education system that would direct culture and society, understood perfectly that the future of a nation is very much determined by the ideas put into the minds of children. At Columbia University in New York City, Dewey welcomed as colleagues people from the communist-leaning German Frankfort School, and together they created a teaching college that has been replicated as a model across our nation. Most teachers learn from Dewey’s teaching model. For a concise set of essays by a number of authors that tells the story of how we got where we are, please read “Political Correctness: A Deceptive and Dangerous Worldview.”

Dewey understood what many parents do not: the entity that controls education determines the thinking of the students and with that the culture. And those who control the education funding control the education. And that is why what parents are rightfully seeking – a real voice in their children’s education – will never happen in state-controlled education. Between state mandates, threats of losing state-funding, and fear of expensive lawsuits, school boards have almost no influence.

This force and intimidation education model is very much a consequence of putting education under the state, whose only tool is force. As ideas deviate from truth, more force is required and that is what we are seeing. Even good teachers are unable to question wrong ideas. Lies advance when truth is silenced.

The Bible presents a very different education model, with no state role, but rather training children is primarily the role of parents. The local church being commissioned to disciple the nations (Matthew 28:19) also has a significant biblical role. Whereas education by force creates subjects who follow out of fear, education by love creates disciples who follow by free choice. God created humankind to be free.

If you want your children to have true ideas shape them into confident adults, don’t waste your time trying to make the state do what it cannot. With surveys indicating that over 80% of churchgoing parents send their children to public schools, I do wonder where are the shepherds warning of the dangers of false teaching? So while the public schools have huge problems, the reality is most churches today have a much bigger problem, because education is discipleship.

When God’s people humble themselves and turn away from the sin of disregarding the calling of the church toward the least of these, we can rightfully ask God’s blessing on our nation. How wrong it is to put our children in the front lines of this cultural war. Now is the time to be adults and get children out of the truly abusive state model. Removing children from this fear-ridden, heavy-handed, controlling environment is step one in this battle of ideas.

(Many resources are at and

© Mark Shepard


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Mark Shepard

Mark Shepard served two terms in the Vermont Senate (2003-2006) and ran for Congress in the 2006 Republican Primary. (Click here for more.)

For a number of reasons, not the least of which is its small size, Vermont has been targeted as a key beachhead by those desiring to move America away from its liberty-based birth – where the laws of nature and nature's God were supreme – and toward socialism, where the state (man's wisdom) is supreme. It was in that environment that Mark ran and served in elected politics... (more)


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