Christian School Choice: Pertinent Paradigms for Parents (Part 1)

It's strange, but from time-to-time I'm stopped on the street or approached in a coffee shop by parents of school age children and questioned about Christian schooling. Essentially the question is, Of the Christian schools in the area, or colleges, which would you, suggest I consider?" Now, that seems innocent enough, but not to me.

Too often this chance encounter and query revolves around tuition or who sends their kids to a specific school. While these are reasonable questions and will help in making a decision, they miss the more significant points which strike at the heart of an avowedly Christian education.

For me the first consideration is: Why is the education at Streets of Gold Christian School Christian? Simply because Christian appears in the name or the entire faculty, administrators, and board members are Christians doesn't make the education Christian. Neither does regular chapel, prayer before class, or the obligatory Bible course. Philosophically the education must be conceived and delivered from a Christian, a biblical point-of-view. Actually I would insist on seeing the school's "Statement of Philosophy" and a sampling of what I would hope is a required document, a syllabus, from each teacher to produce, demonstrating the "how" and "why" their course is contextually Christian. Show me the CE fax!

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Another consideration to substantiate for me that a school is serious about being Christian is "What is the seminal program through which each faculty candidate must pass before receiving what would be considered a "final agreement." This program should include: mentoring, extensive reading, and writing of a personal statement of philosophy of Christian education. This process should probe deeply enough to reveal a complete commitment to a schools "Statement of Faith." Years ago I was hired at a Christian school simply because I demonstrated competency and attended a church in the generally right denomination. This gave me great concern, about who some of my colleagues might be, since, though my church was orthodox, the denomination was, in large part, apostate.

Academic excellence, not "academic grace," put another way "academic rigor" not rigor mortis" should characterize the education delivered and effort encouraged. Can academic expectations fulfill that set forth in Philippians 4:8 and Colossians 3:17 & 23? This is an area of great concern; "integrity" is at its center. So many schools use "excellence" in their promotional material, but don't deliver on the promise. This is simply dishonest. Whether a K-12 school or in higher education delivering a flawed education is sinful, it doesn't prepare for further education not for a rewarding professional life. It can, however, preclude dissipation and failure.

It is at this point that it's more logical to ask about tuition, for then you could make a determination about "value." It would also be appropriate to ask who attends a school allowing for notices of recommendation or avoidance. It is now that you will have a solid basis for asking other pertinent questions, perhaps about standardized testing scores, average SAT scores, and prominent alumni.

You see, Christian education is more than an adjective or some assumption made on a loose collection of superficial elements. The choice of a school needs to be taken seriously; your children's future depends on it! All of this said and we haven't even asked the "impertinent" questions.

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