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Jen Wilkin Responds to Criticism of Her Views on Sending Children to Public Schools

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Screenshot from YouTube / @thegospelcoalition

Author and Bible teacher Jen Wilkin has responded to criticisms of views she expressed in a Feb. 19 discussion regarding whether Christian parents should send their kids to public schools. The conversation was part of The Gospel Coalition’s “Good Faith Debates” series.

“It seems my recent remarks on public school are being misrepresented, so I’d like to clarify,” said Wilkin in a Twitter thread on Saturday. “I get it, it was an hour-long debate, and in an age of short attention spans, clips and tweets can too easily obscure the flow of a longer argument. So, here we go.”

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Jen Wilkin’s Thoughts on Public Schools

Jen Wilkin, a Bible teacher and mother of five, was joined by Dr. Jonathan Pennington, a pastor, professor and father of six, to debate the question, “Should Christian parents send their children to public schools?”  

Wilkin is in favor of sending children to public school, and she said that her “perspective is heavily autobiographical.” All five of her children went to public school and had positive experiences. She also has many family members who are public educators.

“You can imagine that as someone who was in full-time, outward-facing ministry, that was met with a lot of raised eyebrows through the years,” said Wilkin, who noted that people tend to assume someone with a large family and “strong religious convictions” is going opt for homeschooling or a private Christian school. “We didn’t.”

“We did choose public school out of conviction,” said Wilkin, “but I always like to make clear up front that we did not have any special considerations in that our kids did not have learning disabilities, there were no special concerns that might have played into that decision for us.”

The Wilkins also lived near quality schools and could provide their kids with a good education in the public school system. “I would never say everyone should choose public school,” said Wilkin, “but I would say that we should try really hard to if at all possible because we believe in the public school ideal. We believe that education is a right, it’s necessary for human flourishing, it’s good for society. It’s a mark of civilization.”

Wilkin explained, “We believed that our participation in the public school system was directly related to loving our neighbors, and so if we could opt in at all, then we absolutely wanted to, so we did.”

Wilkin emphasized that she and her husband were highly involved in their children’s lives and in their experience in public education. When they chose to send their children to public schools, they did so with the conviction that people’s worldviews come from their homes. She and her husband did “not think that it was a simple matter of just sending them off to get educated…and the church would pick up the slack.”

“We definitely had lots of conversations about everything that they were learning and the social elements as well,” she added.