I’m far more concerned with the plight of public schools as a grandparent today than when I was raising my older boys in the 1970s. And there’s good reason for my hyper-concern: Schools have become battlegrounds for social morality and indoctrination camps for the secular progressive agenda. No surprise that most Americans are dissatisfied with public education.
A 2022 Gallup poll on confidence in public schools explained, “Americans’ confidence in U.S. public schools remains low, with 28% saying they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the institution, similar to 32% last year. Both figures are down from 41% in 2020, reflecting a brief surge in the early months of the pandemic after registering 29% in 2019.”
These are the lowest levels of confidence in public school in 50 years. And those record-breaking lows were seen despite respondents’ political persuasion as Independents, Democrats or Republicans (the latter polled at only 14% high confidence this last year.).
29% in 2019? 32% in 2021? 28% in 2022? Those are lower ratings than even the dismal ratings of our current president at only 42% approval!
Despite lotteries doling out hundreds of millions of dollars for schools every year, despite Common Core and hundreds of other new curricula in every subject under the sun, despite investments of new educators and upgraded technical equipment in every county across the country, etc., satisfaction ratings in U.S. public schools remain in the tank.
So, what’s the remedy?
I’m not an academic expert but I do know something that can help, and maybe even more than most think.
Abraham Lincoln led a radically divided nation through the civil war when he said the following about prayer: “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Our pastor recently passed along a great article by author and speaker Micah Maddox, titled, “10 back-to-school prayers for students.” I couldn’t think of a greater encouragement right now for parents, grandparents, guardians and those who help students everywhere than to cite Micah’s article in its entirety.
Micah Maddox wrote:
- Each year as the new school year begins, my heart feels overwhelmed. Whether your students are going to kindergarten for the first time, or they are starting their senior year of college, it’s a time filled with exciting possibilities and scary unknowns.
We all want to see our children thrive. Our goals consist of helping encourage them to do their best, seeing them learn, grow, and get along with others. While we each hold our own specific goals for individual children, there is one thing we can do that will launch them into the new school year with a fresh wave of hope and God-centered thinking. We can pray. We can not only pray for them, but also pray over them. Let them hear the cry of your heart as they walk into a new school year.
Here are a few prayers you can pray to encourage your student to have the best school year ever before!
Feel free to print this out and fill in your student’s name in the blank so you can see it each day as they take another step into a new year.
1. A Prayer to See
Lord, give ____________ a wise heart to see the children who are lonely or afraid.
In a world where image is everything, there is a better way to view each other. Let’s ask God to give our children eyes to see the hurting ones, the lonely ones, and the ones who need a little extra encouragement.
2. A Prayer to Shine
Lord, help ____________to shine the light of Jesus at school today by simply being kind.
Kindness is usually welcome and remembered. Kindness doesn’t discriminate or cut down. If we really want our students to shine, we must teach and model kindness. Send a note. See the good. Be the cheerleader when no one else notices. Stay calm when others get angry. Remind each other everything is going to be OK.
3. A Prayer of Comfort
Lord, give ____________ a keen awareness of your presence with them today so when they feel nervous or afraid, they know you are with them.
One of the biggest lessons my mom taught me as a child was from Psalm 56:3: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” It’s a comfort to know I am never alone. God’s Word helps remind our students they aren’t alone even when they feel alone. Grab a verse and put it in their lunch, locker, or backpack.
4. A Prayer of Confidence
Lord, remind _____________ to do what is right even when it is not popular.
It’s not always easy to do right, but you’ll never regret it. These are words our children need to hear. Oh how many times I wish I could go back for a re-do. Pray your child will have confidence to stand up for what is right in the face of wrong.
5. A Prayer of Diligence
Lord, help ____________ to work diligently and stay focused even when there are distractions.
There are so many things pulling at our attention. Our students have to work harder than ever to stay focused and learn the material offered them at school. Pray for super focus in a world that is oversaturated with information.
6. A Prayer of Identity
Lord, help ____________ to think before they speak or act and to remember they represent You.
When our children remember who and whose they are, they will be equipped to represent your family and the family of God well. When they don’t know or are unaware of their identity in Christ, they will sway with every wind of popularity, attention, or criticism. Pray they are grounded in who they are in Christ.
7. A Prayer of Boldness
Lord, help ____________ to be bold in his/her convictions and certain in his/her faith.
Boldness is not easy ever. It’s hard to stand up, be heard, and let others know where you stand. But we can pray an armor of boldness about our students and know God is able to give them words and actions that will stand the test of peer pressure.
8. A Prayer of Remembrance
Lord, help ____________ to remember the things they learn and recall the things they study to be the best student they can be.
While some parents focus on straight A’s, others just hope for a diploma some day. There are big differences in our expectations, but we can all pray the same prayer of remembrance. Each child learns differently, and we can pray that our child gains what they need, how they need, to do their very best.
9. A Prayer of Understanding
Lord, give ____________ ears to hear and a mind to understand what she is being taught.
There is nothing more frustrating than not understanding or misunderstanding. It brings confusion, frustration and a fear for the next new thing. But as we pray, we can pray for a deeper understanding for each student. God is able.
10. A Prayer of Wisdom
Lord, give ____________ a heart to discern and discover more of You this year.
While grades, report cards, and college transcripts will all matter at one time or another, there is nothing more valuable than our children knowing God more. Their relationship with God will outlast school, education, and anything they could ever learn. He is the foundation and the formation of who they are and will become. Lord, give them wisdom to know you.
As leaders of our newborn country assembled in 1787 to craft a new Constitution,they were steeped in division and disagreement.
At 81 years of age, Benjamin Franklin stood to his feet and implored the framers to pray for guidance, famously declaring, “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men.”
At 83 years of age, I am also convinced of that same reality as Franklin. I am also convinced of what he said next. It’s still true for our nation today and, I would add, our public schools as well.
Franklin continued, “And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.’”
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