Would you ever think, in a million years, that honesty is absolute for Christian educators would need to be said? Isn't it obvious? Apparently not, at least in my mind!
Tuesday morning,September 11, 2001 at 7:20 AM I flew out of Newark Airport on United Airlines, just before United flight #93 left the same terminal at 8:01 with the hijackers.
Being honest with one another is paramount to a healthy professional relationship! Honesty is characteristic of a person of integrity and teachers should ooze integrity!
Two Bible verses and a statement on teaching have both guided and driven me during all of my years of teaching.
There are three Christian schools within a few miles of each other near to where I live. If I were to travel a few miles farther three or four more would be found.
Boundaries are established to separate one person from another, so that each can have their own identities and responsibilities.
Some time ago, in conversation with a Christian school administrator, I was told of his schools intention to adjust the numerical grade for each letter grade category.
For about one half of my professional life I was in the classroom teaching. For the other half it was administration which, by the way, involve quite a bit of teaching. While both of these experiences involved teaching the venues were light years apart. The result of all of this, "I'm tired!"
In some form or another, "Is your Christian school worth attending?" is being asked by parents. A second question, "Are you hiring the best?" is also being asked and should be a focus of your school leadership's inquiry.
It appears that not many in authority want to get involved. No one wants to reveal a problem that will "rock the boat." And certainly no one wants to be sued!
How many times have you heard someone say, "the more things change the more they stay the same?" Or, how about, "if we could only return to the good old days." It seems to me that in spite of "change," things really don't. Change often is only old or older things that are simply recycled. And no one really wants to go back to the "good old days" because they actually weren't that good.
Christian parents need to encourage and nurture the life and mind and carefully search for an appropriate venue for their children to mature in their faith.
"Folly" is a powerful word. Its meaning suggests a lack of good sense, understanding, or foresight. This sadly and characteristically communicates the costly undertaking resulting in the absurd and ruinous outcome of too many Christian schools.
Lofty language about a "calling" to establish a school, shared by an individual or steering committee, usually surrounds a project announcement and appears to be sincere. So why does calamity frequently follow close behind?
Intentions always seem to be good. Excitement is always high. And establishing a steering committee never seems to be a problem. So, why do Christian schools encounter serious problems and so often end catastrophically?
I was floored when, in conversation with a noted Christian professor at a respected Christian college, was told, "I don't get involved with the integration thing. I just teach the subject." I was speechless and my thoughts clouded for the moment. Hiring a teacher who is a Christian isn't enough!
More often than not schools are caught off guard, heightening the crisis environment and furthermore creating long-term debilitating problems. If only we would take scripture more seriously or seek counsel we could be ready.
Each day I take time to pray specifically for three Christian school administrators. I pray for them because administrating a Christian school is a formidable task, because their institutions are in a particular battle for their very existence, and because providing a Christian education is more difficult now than ever before!
Over the years as a college vice president and as a consultant serving Christian education, I have learned that understanding and exploiting your niche is central to the survival of your educational institution.
While "word of mouth" is the best advertisement, it should not be an excuse to sit back and wait for students to flow into your classrooms. Recruitment, aggressive recruitment, should always be the "modus operandi." Actually when enrollment is strong, marketing be even stronger. It helps to protect during the lean times. Recruitment, however, even aggressive recruitment won't assure fiscal strength unless tuition, spending, and salaries, essentially the entire budget is in balance.
While serving on the board of a Philadelphia college I raise the issue of a development plan for the college at a development committee meeting. The committee chair asked, "How much would that cost, you know to have a consultant help us create one?" I replied, "From my experience, approximately $30,000, but as a board member I'll do it pro bono." Time consuming as it is a development plan is not difficult to create. Development should be strategic, dynamic, and assertive. To be strategic, planning is necessary.
Morale and ludicrous were front-and-center as I arrived at a Christian school seeking to raise capital, and large amounts, at that. The faculty and staff had gone without pay for 12 months, their pension investment had disappeared, they watched as a colleague was released for the sexual assault of over a dozen children at the school, and no one knew from week-to-week which classes would be consolidated or who would be without a job.
Communication more specifically related to board success is that from the "Audit Committee," the "keeper" of the policy handbook. It should be expected to be thorough and plain spoken. In order to avoid confusion and provide clarity of function, the "audit committee" has nothing to do with institutional finance, but everything to do with the examination and auditing of individual board member's performance.
Characterizing an activity as formidable can conjure up frightening thoughts, but when describing efforts to construct the best board, it sets apart a challenge worth pursuing and in the end rewarding.
Board responsibilities are clear cut. As owners of the school, following the "mission" helps to maintain institutional continuity, stability, and integrity. I have always found two things to be striking when interviewing a board. After asking board members about the "mission statement," which most don't know, I ask what their responsibility is and how many employees report to the board. Waffling best describes their response. Boards are responsible for establishing policy, assuring financial stability, and hiring the one employee who reports directly to the board, the chief executive officer.