Tag Archives: Christian schools

August Episodes – School Year Starting

Never before — in this country — has the educational system been so persecutorial of Christians. Never before has the outcome been so bad — for all. However, there have been countries that took the brightest of the youth of nations they conquered, in order to train them in a culture different from their parents. Folks, it is time to pray, seriously. Reruns for the run-up to the start of the school year.

Basics of Homeschooling Timeless interview with HSLDA. Consider educating at home.  

Prayer for Teachers Let’s Pray for our nation’s teachers.

City School.  Ideas from one sweet Christian school in Austin.

Regents Interview with the school that excels in creating Christian leaders through rigorous academics.

Harbor Interview with the school that grooms leaders through individualized education.

Spoiled.  What “spoiling” a child is and how to avoid it.

If We Are Trailing, Why Don’t We Follow?

Religiously affiliated schools significantly outperform public schools in academic achievement. Researchers suggest that this is because character formation training results in self-application and thus in higher scores. Public schools might take a lesson by instituting character formation lessons.

In his meta-study on existing research, William Jeynes, in his Religion, Education and Academic Success, finds that religious schools outperform not because they have better students, bigger budgets, or even primarily because the families are more affluent. Religious schools and religiously committed students outperform because of greater self-application. He agrees with the common researchers’ explanation that because these schools were designed to form character, they end up with higher academic performance.

Given that this is a robust and longstanding difference and explanation, why is it so unthinkable that public schools might take a lesson? Although today academic conceit denigrates religion, when our nation was young and strong, religious education was the backbone of public education. Witness, for instance, the New England Primer. This basis for our education for more than 100 years, directly aimed at forming character through teaching theology in the ABCs, prayers & hymns, and Bible memory work. While it is unlikely that public schools would soon require scripture memory work, we could certainly begin character formation lessons with an aim to shifting toward self-application and better academic performance.

Two decades ago, Leander ISD, serving outlying areas north and west of Austin, called in the wider community to develop 10 values which they have widely promoted ever since. Their list consists of: honesty, integrity, promise-keeping, law-abidingness/civic duty, respect for others, fairness, pursuit of excellence, and accountability. This diverse, fast-growing district has improved both student behavior and academic outcomes by their commitment to these values. Superintendent Dr. Brett Champion explained that he does not require a particular curriculum but allows his teachers to integrate “The 10 Ethical Principles” creatively. The plan continues to be well received.

Contrary to objections, we do have some consensus in our society. Few openly disagree with honesty, integrity, and fairness. Most of us would like to see more of this kind of character formation taught to children. Experience suggests that it might have a good effect in academic outcome. Since our public schools are trailing so far behind religious private schools, why don’t we follow their lead?

Missional churches should establish schools

I whole-heartedly agree with the proposition that churches in the inner city should start schools. Upper/middle class people have as one of their highest priorities education for their children precisely in order to establish them in a lifestyle that is not poverty-stricken, so obviously this should be a high priority to share.

What should happen next is a search for a workable model. If instead, as has happened here, possible directions are foreclosed based on the same thinking that contributes to the existing situation, then progress is difficult. Old liberal saws, as correct as they might be about locating the problem counterintuitively in reproduction of the class structure, do not contribute to solving the problem in real-time with minority or inner city people. That story might help correct the problem at the school board but not in the ‘hood. The question is then, what works in the ‘hood. The problem will be solved only WITH the people.

What works is the nexus of a robust faith with real scholarship in developmentally appropriate ways, and a little capital. Surprisingly, CDCs and schools are profit centers in many inner city churches and support the aging white congregation! And note, pulling a community out of poverty requires more than reason.

Examples: Word of Faith Christian Center in Detroit for years had a school that worked. BTW, it didn’t depend upon giving from some moribund white denomination. I was a Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister serving in Detroit MSA but I have no success stories from that mileu. Liberalism is itself tinged with racism, as you will hear from Black intellectuals. If go around the country I think you will find the same thing. Black leaders formulate pride, use evangelicalism, and raise a community. The liberal, mainline churches, ineffective in so many ways, at best reproduce pockets of elitism rather than true mission.

Go right ahead and hate evangelical discipline or prosperity message that gives people a framework for believing they don’t have to be poor no more, but to do so will shut down your avenues of progress.

Coming into my freshman college class even the middle class white students from better public schools are grossly un-prepared for college work. Worse, some of the minority students are so un-prepared for the social milieu that they come to only a few classes before they drop out or are referred to the police. There is a much bigger problem here than only academics or only racism. There is a fundamental problem of inability of most people to see the problem – in 3D.

The church needs to have a real faith or else it’s mission is awfully wan. Sweet subtleties and the consensus against any moral stricture required in an upper middle class context of competing spiritual traditions is NOT what will work in the ghetto were survival from gunshot wound is the first priority of young people, and the second is some compass of hope. Real faith communicating clear gospel good news and a straight path.

That becomes a real foundation for a real life, and then we can get onto vocation and thus scholarship. That may be too simple for some, but that is what will work, has worked.