Thursday, May 28, 2015

Charter Schools, Alternative Education and a Distinctively Christian School

While it is tax supported, and most people in your community readily accept the public school as a viable educational option for their children, there is a significant segment of the population that does not see public school as something which will meet their children's educational needs, and are looking for an alternative.  That includes families who are looking to integrate their Christian faith into the content and instruction their children receive on a daily basis.  Alternative education includes private, Christian schools to which parents can send their children without restriction, as long as they provide the financial resources for their children to go.  It also includes charter schools, on-line schools which are also often charter schools, and home education options. 

If a distinctively Christian education is the desire parents have for their children, educating them in their own home is always a strong option, as is a Christian school that is separated from the financial control of the state, and supports the family and church by sharing their values and integrating Biblical principles into the classroom.  The main way to do this is to have a faculty and staff who have a clear understanding of what it means to be saved by grace through faith in Christ, and who integrate that faith into everything they do.  That's the kind of educational environment you'll find here, by the way, and the education is fully integrated with Biblical worldview, from classroom content to the lives of the teachers who interact with the students.  It's really the only place outside the home that can provide exactly that kind of environment for learning.

Charter schools and cyber schools are state funded.  As such, they are required to teach the established and adopted state curriculum objectives, including those elements that are not compatible with sound Christian doctrine or family values.  And while they may offer an "alternative" environment to that of the public school, one of the more important things which separates them from Christian schools is that they cannot acknowledge the scripture as the written word of God, and the source of His revelation.  Ultimately, that, and the Christian character that can be found in every teacher in a Christian school, is missing.  Is it really worth the money you save on the alternative, if what you are looking for is much more than a charter or cyber school can give, from a spiritual perspective? 

Most Christian schools, certainly the vast majority of them, can also offer an academic environment that is superior to public schools and most of their alternative programs.  Charter schools and cyber education do not always offer the best in terms of academic achievement.  Though most are mission-based, and attract a specific type or interest level of student, they are not always at the top of their game when it comes to excellence in the classroom or online, and some do not provide a high level of support when students need it. 

When you send your child to Portersville Christian School, you know that from the bus driver to the administrator, and everywhere in between, the school's employees are mature, born again believers in Christ.  Biblical principles are integrated into every classroom because the teacher is a believer and a follower of Jesus, and is leading his or her students to do the same.  So if those values are the things that are important, you should realize that a Christian school is the only place to get them. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Why we support the EITC/OSTC Birthday Party Rally in Harrisburg

It seems like a lot of effort to get up early, leave the school campus at 6:30 a.m., drive four hours to the state capital in Harrisburg, spend an hour at a rally, another hour touring the building, leave shortly afterward and arrive home after 6:30.  It makes for a long day, just to gather on the steps of the Capitol building and hear a few people talk about school choice. 

I will give you several reasons why it is important, and why I am proud of the PCS students who are doing so. 

1.  After more than 30 years in Christian education, I have heard many parents say that if it is God's will for their children to be in a Christian school, he will provide a way.  That is a significant statement of faithfulness, considering that between 75 and 80% of the church-attending Christians in this country do not earn an income that is sufficient to provide the additional tuition and fees that most Christian schools must collect in order to operate.  But here in Pennsylvania, the legislature has determined that a tax credit program using private, not state appropriated, funds can be implemented allowing businesses to support scholarships for students going to Christian schools based on financial need. 

These scholarships are considered "equalizers," since Pennsylvania families already pay taxes which support the public school system, which children in Christian schools are not using.  EITC and OSTC scholarships have made it possible for about a third of all students in the state who attend a private, Christian school to be there.  I see God answer the prayers of families all the time by providing a way through EITC or OSTC for their children to enroll here at PCS. 

2.  There are legislators, the elected representatives of the people, who believe that the best pathway to providing an excellent education for the students of their state is to offer parents a choice of schools, rather than requiring all parents to place their children in an environment that is, in theory, "religiously neutral," but which lacks day to day reinforcement of the core values and principles that parents are teaching at home, and taking their kids to church to learn.  These legislators have publicly committed themselves to this position, regardless of its popularity, and this rally is one way that we can show our appreciation and say thanks.

And when we go this Wednesday, it is with the knowledge that the current session is considering a major expansion of EITC/OSTC.  Last year, they were considering a "swinging gate" bill which opened the door to increased tax credit utilization.  They are listening to us.  Support at the rally may be just what they need to see to get the expansion passed. 

3.  As a follower of Christ, and a believer in the written word of God, I believe education is a parent responsibility, not a government responsibility.  That is not currently the system under which we live.  Because the government has assumed the full responsibility for education, it has also assumed the responsibility for collecting and distributing the tax dollars to fund it, and it also assumes accountability for making sure those dollars are spent according to its own intentions.  So the state has also instituted curriculum and standards of measurement, and mandated attendance in a system that it considers to be "religiously neutral," but which, in fact, by the very nature of religious "neutrality," provides instruction and content in a manner that ignores the basic principles of the Christian faith. 

In taking an authoritative view of instruction, the school supplants authority that belongs to parents, and this has the effect of undermining their credibility in the eyes of their children.  In addition, it replaces the values and morals taught in Christian homes with values and morals considered "religiously neutral" that are considerably watered down.  It is difficult to "supplement" truth, since it must be taught with authority.  And while parents do have a choice, it is limited by the state's power of the purse, since they must also fund a system for which they have no use. 

I think it is important for students to see the way our Republic works up close.  We are exercising our constitutional right to free speech, to religious freedom, and to having our rights protected as a dissenting minority, without coercion, when it comes to choices other than the public education system as a means of teaching our children. The coercion results from the way the government has chosen to finance its schools.  And I want our students to see that if they participate, their voice will be heard, but if they don't, those in government will represent the interests of people they think will vote to keep them in office. 

It's the best civics lesson we can have.