Link to a great article about the influence of Christian education on its students.
Link to a great article about the influence of Christian education on its students.
Information from a couple of recent local news stories helps underline how important it is for parents to understand why Christian schools exist, why those of us who work in them are committed to the kind of personal sacrifice required to serve in this way and why parents need to be just as committed to the same kind of sacrifice to make it possible.
No "Opt-out" Option for Parents
The Inclusive Curriculum bill passed in Illinois last year now requires schools to teach objectives which include objectives about the positive contributions made to history by persons of alternative sexual orientation or gender identity. The stated purpose of the instruction is (1) to introduce students to the concept of sexual orientation and what being gay, lesbian or bi-sexual means, and gender identity, and what it means to be transgendered, and (2) to provide students with information which shows the historical achievements of persons of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered persons in order to cultivate a favorable view of "alternate lifestyles" related to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in school is nothing new. What's new about what is happening this school year under Illinois' new "inclusive curriculum" mandate is that parents are no longer notified when this will be taught and are not able to opt their children out of the instruction because it is integrated into the regular curriculum. As far as we can tell, it is part of instruction beginning at Pre-K4.
These are issues related to behavior choices and moral values. Parents should be able to decide when it is appropriate to introduce this instruction to their children and from what perspective they will approach this issue when it is time to discuss it. In the public school system, you are not offered either of those options and while you have no idea how the teacher who is presenting these objectives will approach it, you can be fairly certain that it will not take into consideration your family's Christian values or perspective on these issues, which has been mischaracterized as "hateful bigotry."
Would you be comfortable placing your child in the hands of a school system that considers the Christian perspective on sexual orientation and gender identity "hateful bigotry"?
Required Hindu Instruction in CPS?
Apparently several Chicago public schools have introduced transcendental meditation techniques to assist with classroom control and to assist in reducing disciplinary incidents in schools with high percentages of violent incidents. The activity, which was required at several schools, is called "quiet time" and involves Hindu worship rituals during the meditation. No parent permission was sought. Students in schools where this was occurring were required to participate in the sessions. The denials that this activity was "religious" are appalling in that those who are advocating it do not seem to have the ability to recognize that transcendental meditation is a worship practice of Hinduism.
The other disturbing aspect of some of the responses made to this activity comes from school officials who don't really seem to care that "quiet time" is inherently religious in nature. They're OK with that, as long as they get the desired results. The effort to keep any mention of what is going on at school with their kids and to keep parents in the dark is also, for lack of a better term, appalling.
Your kids spend at least seven hours a day, five days a week, at school. Let that sink in for just a minute.
These Aren't Rare Events
The public education system claims to operate under the principle of "religious neutrality." If that were really the case, then neither human sexuality nor any kind of meditation practice falls within the scope of its mission and purpose. But "religious neutrality" means that there is no place in the educational process for acknowledgement of the existence of God and as a result, the prevailing philosophy which governs the development of all curriculum objectives required in public schools follows the humanist philosophy which acknowledges human intellect as the highest form of intelligence in the universe.
And just a word about Charter schools. Charter schools are publicly funded and follow the same curriculum objectives and educational philosophy as the public school system. Many Charter schools have a mission-driven purpose that can be hostile to any kind of Christian perspective and some are operated by groups that are openly hostile to any Judaeo-Christian influence. And from an academic perspective, they are generally not as strong as most public schools.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are just the tip of the iceberg. One of the goals of the humanist movement as it began to fill in the vacuum left by the enforcement of "religious neutrality" on the public school system is to eliminate influences which they consider negative. The founders and most of the adherents of humanism are atheists or agnostics, so as a consequence, they have developed a curriculum which is not specifically "neutral" when it comes to Christian faith in particular, but which is hostile toward it. This secularization has invaded every grade level and every subject area and it permeates all instruction. It makes an effort to conceal itself from parents to avoid complaints and it prompts schools to spend time teaching a social agenda rather than basic skills, and that has affected academic performance.
And if your kids attend a public or charter school, they are exposed to this every day.
Let's be Proud but not Prideful
There's no doubt that if your children attend MCA, they are spending their seven hours a day, five days a week in an environment which acknowledges God's existence, glorifies his Son Jesus and depends on his Holy Spirit for leadership and discernment. That's what sets us apart from publicly supported education and is the distinctive purpose for our existence.
But you're not sacrificing academic achievement and quality to be here, either. By all of the measures established in public education for determining the academic progress of students, MCA students demonstrate a level of achievement that is well above the surrounding public and charter schools, and even exceeds most of the religious-based private schools in our part of the city. Our alumni are easily admitted to the most challenging academic programs and generally distinguish themselves when they get there. They have a background of Biblical study and training that is not easily swayed. There's no doubt that they are in a place where their faith will grow, but they are also in a place where their level of achievement will exceed expectations as well.
On Monday and Tuesday, our students came back excited and happy to be back and school, but their parents appeared to be even more joyous. We spent multiple hours over the summer planning for what we knew would be a very different and unusual school year, but at least we were here and able to conduct classes face to face. We are weary from trying to navigate through this viral pandemic, wondering what surprises are waiting tomorrow after we've experienced today's trials.
We did not expect to become involved in contact tracing and E-learning for all students the first week of school. But like everything else involved with this viral pandemic, we had to initiate procedures for handling a potential contact with a case of COVID-19 the second day of school.
Our procedures worked well. We were able to make the announcement and conduct a parent meeting via zoom that evening, got everyone involved tested the next day and had two full days of E-learning as the testing results came back. The news turned out to be all good, confirming that the procedures we have in place work very well and accomplish their purpose and providing us with answered prayer and assurance that God is, indeed, watching over our campus.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses....
There is a perspective that can be placed with all of this. Last week, many friends of mine who live along the gulf coast in Southeast Texas, where we lived for over 20 years, spent their week boarding up windows and preparing to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Laura, which turned out to be one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the gulf coast in decades. Though some parts of Texas got lots of wind and rain, Lake Charles, Louisiana was directly hit by this category 4 hurricane. Schools there will not be opening for some time, maybe not before Christmas in some cases, because the damage was catastrophic. We need to thank God that our brush with the virus worked out well and turn our attention to praying for and looking for ways to help people in Southwestern Louisiana.
"Let us therefore draw near to the throne of grace with confidence, that we might receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
This will not be the last time we have to do contact tracing, quarantine or testing of someone in our school community. Until medical science gets this under control, either through testing and isolation or by coming up with a useable vaccine, there will be other instances where someone must quarantine or get testing and some students may wind up spending time in E-learning as a result. Hopefully, since we have followed guidelines and grouped students into cohorts, it will not require closing the whole school down again. But we always have the ability to find strength through prayer and we can always take comfort in knowing that God is watching over us, protecting us and knows exactly what we need when we need it. This is a great time for our students to get an object lesson in the power of prayer.
Please pray for the people of Southwest Louisiana. On top of everything else, they now have the aftermath of a hurricane to deal with. They need to have some mercy and grace directed their way.
The doors at MCA will open to students on Monday, August 24 for the first time since classes were sent home to do online learning on March 16. We're still in the middle of a viral pandemic, though in both Chicago and Illinois, the numbers have gone down considerably since the peak last April. Many considerations were taken into account in our decision-making process to open back up this fall.
Faith in God and Belief in the Power of Prayer
As a Christian school, we believe in the power of prayer and that God provides both guidance and protection as an answer to prayer, and as information was received from multiple sources for the purpose of making this decision, we depended on that guidance for the ability to discern truth from error when making this decision. Today, members of Midwest Bible Church came to the school after the Sunday service, praying for all of our staff and our students who will gather there tomorrow, adding the element of God's protection to the discernment already provided.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 CSB
As multiple sources of information were provided and considered, decisions were made prayerfully, asking God for discernment to determine facts that would lead to practices which would protect students and staff from infection, allowing us to open the school in complete compliance with state and city health department guidelines and orders. We've also prayed for God to keep those who come to school each day safe and trust in his power and presence to accomplish his will. And that, very simply, is why we are opening on August 24.
Compliance With the Law
In discerning exactly how to open and what procedures are necessary for the protection of our students, we are following the guidelines developed for COVID-19 through medical science, distributed by the Centers for Disease Control, the state and city boards of health and the recommendations of key hospital and medical care entities which provide accurate health data.