CHRISTIAN EDUCATION IS A VALID EDUCATIONAL CHOICE IN OUR CULTURE
Parents, it’s hard to believe that the time is upon us for making decisions about next September and where your children will go to school. As I think about it, the reality that we get to make a choice about education in our area is an interesting phenomenon. For many people here, the idea of where their child will go to school next year is just a passing thought, not a major decision. And yet, for us, the idea of sending your child to Champion Christian School is a decision-making process every year - often about finances, pressure from others, or just curiosity about other options.
This series of articles over the next several weeks is an intentional effort to help us articulate and address that process and recognize that this process is helping all of us to become more self-aware - and hopefully grow to make better, more informed decisions. We believe that making decisions based on sound Biblical principles and an understanding of who we are as parents can only help us in our efforts to do the best that we can for our children.
Champion Christian School has been in existence long enough to hear from parents who decided long ago to remove their children from CCS because of financial or peer pressures, and in the end have significant regrets about making that decision. Thinking carefully now can avoid regrets later. Throughout the next few weeks we will be taking different topics and exploring some general ideas from my perspective. Perhaps it can be a forum in which we can interact with you, and you in turn can interact with your family about the decision-making process. WE FEEL CONFIDENT THAT IF YOU LOOK AT ALL THE ISSUES, ULTIMATELY CHAMPION IS THE BEST EDUCATIONAL CHOICE IN THE AREA.
As I mentioned, this process of reevaluating educational choice each year is unique to our area, and I believe for several reasons. The first is that although the Center has been around for 22 years and is in a growth mode (in terms of expanding its programs and stability), it is still seen by some people as a relatively recent phenomenon. Some folks, particularly those who are older, see Champion Christian School as the ‘new guy on the block’ in terms of education. Although in a sense that is true, in a very real sense, it is not. In areas outside of Western PA, Christian Schools have been established for well over one hundred years. However, in Western PA, a school that is 50 years old is very old.
The second reason is that as a whole, our local culture believes public education is the standard choice for most parents. Although that happens to be true statistically in our area, it is not necessarily true historically of our country, and it certainly isn’t representative of all areas of our country. There is a factor that creates the idea that if I send my child to Christian school somehow that is outside of the norm of what most people are doing.
The third reason that this process becomes a significant one is that it requires, of course, a significant financial commitment for children to come to Champion Christian School. Regardless of our economical status, everyone has other things that they could do with the money that they spend on tuition. So in whatever real or perceived way - Christian education is a sacrifice. It is a process of giving up something that we would like to have in order to have our children educated for eternity.
We know that the re-enrollment process at Champion Christian is a significant one. We have always said that one of the biggest reasons we lose students is because people get tired of defending their choice for Christian education or are tired of feeling as though they are going against the flow. Some people feel that way more than others, depending on their personal and family experiences, or the culture in which they grew up - but the process is indeed one that can take its toll on parents at Champion Christian. But I believe that this is changing as we move to a point where parents no longer need to feel defensive of their educational choice when they come to Champion. As we meet with CCS alumni and hear about their successful ventures in the world around them (both academic and vocational), we are excited! Their feedback lets us know that Champion Christian School does a great job in preparing students for what is important long term in life.
So the idea of choice is an interesting phenomenon in our culture, and particularly in our local culture. This week’s article will help us understand and appreciate that decision-making process. In the following weeks we’ll take a look at the areas of stress, financial commitment, and the feeling that we are going against the flow.
One way that we can begin to look at and understand how going through the process of intentionally choosing a school is positive, is to realize the benefit that process produces in our lives. Although it adds difficulty to our lives, is it really bad? I don't think so. What if we begin to make a choice to think of this decision making process as a blessing and privilege, recognizing the resulting self awareness and learning that happens? What would happen if we begin to see the results of the examination process as producing strong and wise parental decisions? Ones we can live with forever, and not regret.
As an administration and staff, we realize that the people who send their children to Champion have made an intentional decision to do just that. They have thought clearly about the sacrifices, the benefits, the research that has influenced us, and the results that we are producing. They are here, fully aware of the costs and sacrifices that are involved. They have made those decisions in light of other possibilities that may have been easier - in lots of ways. For me, as both a parent and as the Executive Director of this organization, I see that as a huge benefit. And to tell the truth, I believe that if you look intently at the real issues and current research, the end result will be to choose Champion for your children. But even if you don't, isn't it a good thing to be very intentional and informed about your decision? I certainly think so.
One of the most significant and difficult issues that public education faces is the entitlement mentality of our culture, that everybody deserved an education and that it’s the school’s job to educate children rather than parents and the kids’ jobs. At Champion, there’s a real sense that parents make this decision because of who Champion is as an institution: the positive benefits, the quality education, the commitment to Christian values, and the personal experiences that children get. In that context, parents are empowered and schools are empowered. Part of the reason that we are who we are and can do the incredible things that we do is because parents are committed to what we are committed to; because kids ultimately are committed to what we are committed to; and because it’s a contractual relationship. A relationship that allows people the freedom to have real decision-making power. In my mind, the very foundation of that decision, that choice in education if you will, helps parents provide for their students, helps administrators provide for their teachers; and in the end, grows a school community that is built on real life.
We’re not spending 12 years preparing our children with the idea that school is something that you have an obligation to do and that there’s no way of getting out of it. It is a decision that we make, that we are intentional about, that we commit ourselves to, that we contractually enter into. Much like our jobs, our marriages, and the rest of our lives.
This year when you begin to say, “I’ve got to turn in these forms about next year - how are we going to plan?” When you begin to think about all the processes, the other options that are available to you, what your grandmother and neighbors have said to you, and all of those kinds of things that go through our minds. When you feel a little frustrated, remember - it is not only your constitutional right to do that, but your God-given responsibility as a parent to think carefully about what you are doing; to make a decision based on intentionality and principles; a decision that will affect your life and the lives of your children.
It is not a bad thing that you have to go through that intentional process! What really is sad is that people might be unaware enough to not think through that decision, and may some day wake up and say “Wow! Wish I’d a thought that through in a different way.”
May God bless you as you work through this process!