According to the U.S. Department of Education, since the start of the pandemic, more than 1.5 million students have left traditional public schooling. Parents and students, it seems, are looking for something different.
Many parents and students are looking elsewhere because students struggled to learn online, and some have even fallen behind. Others feel helpless to respond to how school districts and states have handled, and sometimes mishandled, the pandemic. Others are worried about their students learning bad habits with technology, or suffering from loneliness and despair.
Other parents have finally seen what their students are being taught. During the pandemic, various forms of anti-Americanism, sexual indoctrinations, and critical theory that pass in the name of education have streamed into homes through online Zoom classrooms. Many parents realized, some for the first time, that their students weren’t learning what the parents thought they were learning. As one former college professor noted, if you haven’t been in education in the past three years, it’s almost unrecognizable to what you experienced growing up.
All of which has led to incredible growth in the number of homeschooling families, and record enrollments for virtually every Christian school I know. I’ve talked to dozens of leaders of schools who didn’t have waiting lists before, but have them now.
One Christian school administrator told me that, even early on in the pandemic, his teachers were begging him to do what they could to reopen their school. “They need us,” the teachers would say, even while the public school teachers unions in that state were asking officials to keep schools closed. Their attitude was unique in their community, but not among Christian schools around the nation.
And, apparently, parents noticed.
At the same time, Christian schools face incredible challenges, especially internally. Too often, for example, Christian education takes the form of regular education with Bible verses added on as illustrations, or as the same school only with chapel, a “spiritual formation” week, more rules, longer skirts, and shorter hair.
In reality, truly Christian education is a fundamentally different enterprise. Christian education rests on the assumption that every person is made in the image of God, created by God for a purpose, called by God to live in the world He created, and specifically called to live for Christ in this cultural moment. Christian education equips and prepares people to understand reality and to live with the clarity, confidence, and courage they need to face the challenges of this cultural moment. To paraphrase T.S. Elliot, Christian education is not just teaching Christian students to behave or how to be safe in a dangerous world. It’s about training them to think and live as Christians for such a time as this.
This means that in this particular moment of incredible opportunity, we can do Christian education right or we can do it wrong. Done right, Christian education begins with Christian assumptions about life, truth, and humans. It aims at Christian goals. It’s measured by Christian outcomes. It’s guided by Christian methodology.
Christian education also relies heavily on the home and the church to provide essential support. Part of the Colson Center’s calling as a worldview-equipping institution is to serve Christian educators by equipping them to think and teach from a Christian worldview. Hundreds of Christian educators have been commissioned in our Colson Fellows program. Tens of thousands have been trained in worldview and cultural issues through our online courses. Many now serve as Christian worldview experts in their homes, schools, and churches. Each and every day, in classrooms and around dinner tables, BreakPoint commentaries are used to teach Christian worldview to the next generation. Together with our What Would You Say? videos, educators have the resources they need to connect Christian worldview to the most important and challenging issues of our culture.
And, we invite you to partner with us, as we serve Christian education in this strategic moment by training Christian educators. To learn more about our work in Christian education, and to support it, visit www.breakpoint.org/september.