Monday, December 28, 2020

MCA Moving Forward Toward Full Accreditation: What That Means to Our Ministry

A little over three years ago, MCA applied to be accredited by the commission of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).  MCA is a long-time member of ACSI, which is the largest organization of Evangelical Christian Schools in the world, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  ACSI provides Christian schools with fellowship, professional services and professional development for staff, textbook series in core subject areas for students, student activities like band festivals, Math Olympics, Fine Arts competitions, district speech meets and a creative writing competition.  It conducts Christian leadership conferences for middle school and high school students and holds an annual professional development event for teachers in various states and regions across the United States.  

The ACSI accreditation commission is fully recognized to grant accreditation by the education departments of all fifty states.  It is modelled after the private regional accreditation agencies that provide this service to all schools, public, charter or private, across the country and has dual-accreditation arrangements with at least three of the other regional agencies, including Middle States, North-Central and Advanced Ed.  What that means is that when a Christian school is accredited by ACSI, the accreditation is recognized by the other agencies.  

Why Seek Accreditation

"Accredited schools are excellent schools and excellent schools seek accreditation."  

I'm not sure of the origins of this statement, but it is one that I've heard since becoming involved with ACSI over thirty years ago.  Private schools in Illinois can seek state recognition, which indicates that they have met a specific set of standards with regard to curriculum and instruction, school operations and quality of the academic program.  Recognition ensures that the credit students earn in their classes meets the minimum standards required by the state, so that the school can grant diplomas that are recognized by other schools.  MCA easily meets the standards for Illinois recognition which is all that is required to operate.  

But as  a private, Christian school, we believe we have a mission and purpose that obligates us to make sure that our students are getting what their parents expect from a school that is distinctively Christian in its educational philosophy and approach to education.  We are not here to imitate what the  public schools do, in fact, we exist because we have recognized that there are major philosophical differences in our approaches to teaching, especially in defining what is truth and recognizing that God is the source of knowledge and education is the process of helping students connect God's truth to the skills and objectives they learn each day in class.  

With humility, we are able to clearly see a major difference not only in how we define truth, but in the quality of the instruction and the curriculum as we lead students to understand and measure all of the subject content they learn using the Bible as a "ruler" and measuring rod.  Accreditation is a signal to parents that we are achieving our mission and purpose with our students and they can trust the results.  

Academic Excellence

Accreditation recognizes the quality of  the instruction in the classroom and the strength of the school's curriculum.  There are minimum standards expected.  MCA is able to document our academic achievement in several ways.  We evaluate our curriculum objectives against the state minimum requirements.  One of the measurements we use tells us what percentage of our students on each grade level are achieving at least the minimum benchmarks required in core subjects on their grade level.  At MCA, collectively, in mathematics and language arts/reading, over 90% of our students meet or exceed those minimum benchmarks.  That's compared to less than 50% of the students at one of the designated "scholastic" public schools in our part of the city, and less than 35% of the students in most of the public schools around us.  

We also compare favorably with other religious-based private schools in our part of the city, mostly the Catholic and Lutheran schools in our area.  Among those schools which publicize their scores, including three Catholic schools and two Lutheran schools, MCA students are slightly higher in their achievement of benchmarks.  Our academic offerings are limited because of our size, but the curriculum materials we use are of high quality and our course objectives are aimed at mathematics skills development and phonics-based reading.  All of our grade levels achieve percentile ranks that are over 20 points above the national average and in our last round of testing, we had three grade levels that achieved beyond the 80th percentile in both math and language arts.  

Distinctively Christian

Not all of our families are at MCA because of the school's Christian philosophy of education.  Christian schools meet parents' need for a safe environment for their child, both physically and intellectually, by focusing on the academic objectives and leaving out instruction in social issues and perspectives that isn't consistent with what families want their children to learn in school.  But measuring the school's effectiveness as a discipleship ministry is part of the accreditation process.  What is the expected spiritual outcome for students who graduate from MCA?  

Students in public schools are exposed to a progressive philosophy of secular humanism every day in every class.  Science, English and composition classes and Social Studies are specifically loaded with objectives which acknowledge human intellect as the highest power in the universe, ignore or deny the existence of God and which see education as an agent of social and political change.  Moral relativism, individual choice are seen as goals which lead to individual success and achievement and fulfillment of life's purpose.  In Illinois, objectives related to instruction of students in defining and understanding homosexuality and transgender identity have been moved out of the category of sexual education, where parents can object and have their students exempted, and into science, social studies and communication skills.  

Our philosophy of education is based on Biblical truth, centering on the existence of God who is the creator and sustainer of the universe.  We do teach morals and values in our school, all based solely on a literal-historical context of the Bible, which is the revealed word of God and which has truth for its content without any mixture of error.  Our students have a Bible class every day of every school year as a core, required subject and the school community worships corporately in a chapel service each week.  Biblical truth is incorporated into the course objectives of every other subject.  Our goals in this area are to support and undergird the work of the local church, leading students to see that church membership is part of their Christian identity and the church, the body of Christ, is the vehicle for their ministry calling and service.  We believe God has given them a life ministry, purpose and calling and it is our responsibility to help them find out what that is.  

MCA's Candidacy for Accreditation

The process has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Restrictions on gatherings and the nine-weeks period of E-learning with which we finished the spring created a setback in the schedule for all accreditations.  Everything was delayed and put on hold for all schools accross the country.  Because our period of E-learning in Illinois was longer than most states, our accreditation team visit was delayed indefinitely.  We have scheduled a tentative visit for November of 2021 which will complete our process by December 31, which is the current deadline.  

What does this mean to you?  

An accredited school is an excellent school.  Of course, we already know this.  But there are always people who need to be convinced with hard facts.  During the three years of our candidacy, MCA has consistently been fully compliant with the majority of standards in the Reach Accreditation Protocol we are using.  Our academic achievement is particularly strong, our spiritual life and Christian distinctiveness exceed the expectations.  Our school operation ranks high on financial efficiency.  The educational and experience strength of our faculty and staff is high and our measurable academic goals also exceed expectations.  So accreditation means that you have your child in an excellent school that is instructing and inspiring the "whole child."  

An accredited school has a high success rate in achieving its expected student outcomes.  This is visible in every aspect of our program.  "Best practices in education" are the driving force behind our instruction.  Best practices does not always mean rooms full of video, computers, and visual and auditory stimulation.   It means a room where the teacher has figured out how to motivate their students to learn, provides them with differentiation in their instruction to appeal to their learning style and achieves results rather than entertainment.   

An accredited school provides your child with teachers who see their presence in the classroom as a ministry calling, not just a job.  Teachers in an ACSI accredited school understand that teaching is a ministry calling.  They are here primarily to provide a measure of Christian discipleship to their students which leads not just to academic success, but to connecting Biblical truth to the way they look at life so that each student has an opportunity to sense God's calling in their life and be ready to make that commitment when prompted by the Holy Spirit.  

The Future of American Evangelical Christianity Rests on Catching a Vision for Christian School Education

Progressive secular humanists succeeded in gaining control of the teacher training curriculum in the colleges and universities in American in the 1920's.  Led by John Dewey, a professsor at the University of Chicago, their aim was to bring about social reform and political change in America through control of the curriculum of the public school system.  Long a domain of Protestant influence, over the course of two generations, American colleges and universities turned out hundreds of thousands of humanist-trained teachers.  Students were exposed to their philosophy and social change aims in the school where they spent seven hours a day, five days a week.  

The church, where children and youth who are active in attendance and participation, has the students in its possession for maybe two or three hours a week, if their family is regular in attendance.  There is no way that they could compete, ideologically, on that bases.  Church researchers began to notice in the late 1970's and early 80's that Evangelical Christian churches were seeing a decline in attendance and membership that was unusual, taking place among its 20 to 30 year olds.  

The influence of secular humanism in schools was having an effect.  By the early 1980's groups like Lifeway Research and Barna were noticing that 80% of young people who were active in their church during high school had dropped out altogether by the time they finished college.  Enrollments in college-aged church ministry groups was dropping substantially.   In the venerable Southern Baptist Convention, college and young adult Bible study enrollment fell to historic lows in the 1980's and 1990's.  

The one consistent statistic in what was happening was that students who were educated at home by their parents, or who spent five or more years in a Christian school environment were not leaving their churches, and were fulfilling the leadership roles in both vocational and lay-led ministry.  One study done in the early 2000's showed that fewer than 10% of the students who were active in their church while attending a Christian school every day actually dropped out of church.  

We feel the work we are doing on accreditation, which is part of our effort to revitalize the ministry of MCA, is worth it.  We hope your family benefits from our efforts.  We'd love to have you affirm our work by re-enrolling your child for the 2021-22 school term.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Legacy and the Future of Midwestern Christian Academy

The COVID-19 pandemic is, without a doubt, the biggest disruption of life in the United States since the Second World War, and since there are few Americans alive today who are old enough to remember the Second World War, it's become the crisis of a lifetime.  Health care services are in a crisis mode and the effects of the uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19 have affected everything from the economy to church services.  

The Effect of the Pandemic on MCA

Like other schools in Illinois, MCA shifted from in-person instruction to E-learning in mid-March 2020.  We made the shift as smoothly as we could, learned some lessons along the way and finished the school year strong.  Our teachers worked especially hard to make sure that their classes achieved their expected outcomes in every subject area at every grade level.  We were grateful to be able to return to in-person instruction this fall, even with the limits and restrictions that were put in place.  

Christian schools everywhere have seen enrollment drops and have had to make budget cuts and adjustments to cope with the effects of the pandemic, and MCA is no different.  Many of our parents work in retail or own businesses like restaurants and immediately felt the effects of the stay-at-home orders while layoffs and job loss came more slowly for others.  On the plus side, the CPS decision to go with E-learning through the first two quarters did bring us some new students.  Our experience has been very similar to what most other private, Christian schools are going through in terms of a drop in enrollment and subsequently, tuition dollars which support the budget.  The pandemic is the difference between where we planned to be and where we are now.   

However, as Mark Twain once said, the reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated. 

Most Christian schools operate on a very tight budget with little wiggle room for unexpected expenses and a very small reserve.  There's a delicate balance between the resources, most of which come from parents who pay tuition for their children to attend, and the expenses, which are kept low by a variety of ways, including staff members who make sacrifices to work for salaries well below that of their public school counterparts in order to keep expenses low.  But the bottom line is that we are a ministry in which we acknowledge that God supplies all our needs.  

Before They Call, I will Answer

This school has been favored by the Lord through sixty-six years of ministry and it has faced all kinds of crises that have threatened to close the doors.  As Peter says, our enemy is always prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour and a Christian school with a mission and purpose committed to preparing students to go out into the world testifying to salvation by grace through faith in Christ and serving in the church does not suit his purpose.  But God's power comes through Peter's words.  He cares for you.  Humble yourselves.  Cast your cares on Him.  Be sober minded and watchful.  Stand firm in your faith.  

We have no plans to close the school.  Like most other private schools, we have contingency plans and the ability to adjust our expenses to accommodate short-term emergencies and situations that we didn't anticipate.  The viral pandemic wasn't something we could plan for.  So we are reaching out to alumni, former students and friends of the ministry for help.  This is something we have rarely done in the past, but it is part of what most other Christian schools do to make ends meet all the time.  And it is proving to be a means by which God is answering prayer and providing for the school's needs.  

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.  Isaiah 65:24

The Legacy and the Future

There aren't many Christian schools around today who can trace their history back to 1954.  MCA has had the blessing of sixty-six years of ministry on the northwest side of America's third largest city, but the impact and influence of this small school has spread around the world.  Christian schools support and undergird the work of the church by teaching students to connect everything they learn to Biblical truth.  Through the classroom, students are directed to fulfill the purpose for which they have been created and called by God.  Students who once walked the halls and occupied the classrooms of MCA are not only serving in Christian vocational ministries around the world, but they are also salt and light in the communities where they live and work.  

We need to ask ourselves the question, "If our school were gone, would it be missed?"  

The need for schools which support and undergird the work of the church has never been greater.  Most churches would consider themselves fortunate to have those children who come to their services and programs under their care and teaching for a couple of hours a week.  The public school system has most children in their classrooms seven hours a day, five hours a week.  The curriculum is derived from a set of "religiously neutral" objectives which do not make any acknowledgement of the existence of God and which increasingly has removed the influence of any kind of Christian faith from the classroom, even to the point of ignoring the role of Christians and the influence of the church in history.  

This ministry is in God's hands.  It has served faithfully and remained true to its original mission and purpose.  If you look back at the school's legacy, there are many, many places where its ministry would be missed if it were gone or had never existed in the first place.  God puts visions like this in the hearts of his children in order to accomplish his will.  Looking ahead, it is not hard to imagine all of the places where students whose spiritual foundation and growth was strengthened and matured because of their daily exposure to a Christian atmosphere and solid Biblical instruction would be missed if our school wasn't here.  

We're grateful for the opportunity to be part of the effort to make sure Midwestern Christian Academy continues serving students and their families in Jesus' name for many more years.

Friday, November 20, 2020

A Word of Recognition and Encouragement for Teachers

 This is from a social media post by Dr. Nathan Finn, former Professor of Historical Theology and Spiritual Formation at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC and currently Provost and Dean of the Faculty at North Greenville University in Greer, SC.  

The teachers around you are anxious, weary, and exhausted. I’m talking about teachers at every level and in every type of school, whether 3rd grade or high school English or college Chemistry. Public school or private school. Religious school or non-sectarian school. All of them. These men and women almost certainly became teachers because they love students (of whatever age and stage) and want to make an impact in students’ lives through the classroom. They probably love their vocation and find significant satisfaction in being a teacher. But the last nine months has probably been the most difficult period in their career--even if they’ve been teaching for decades.
Teachers have been endlessly flexible in recent months. Many have adapted to various technologies to enable them to teach at least some students remotely, rarely with an ideal level of institutional investment in resources and training to help in this transition. Many have been forced to roll with scheduling or attendance changes, often with little advance warning from decision-markers. Even in cases where teachers have been able to teach mostly in-person, they have often endured quasi-isolation from their colleagues and their students. In many cases teachers have had to help “police” student conformity to protocols about face coverings, social distancing, quarantines, etc. Or, they have been anxious because students have refused to follow such protocols, potentially endangering those around them.
Decision-making has been more “top-down” than is normal in education. (Especially in higher education.) Budgets that were already probably too tight have been further cut. Needed positions have been tabled or eliminated. In many places, good teachers have lost their jobs because of financial realities. In other situations, teachers have left the vocation they once loved voluntarily because they no longer find it to be satisfying. Like everyone, teachers have opinions about how regions, communities, or particular institutions respond to the pandemic. And, like everyone, teachers may not agree with how their particular institution (school board, university system, school) has responded.
Teachers are also real people outside the hours of the school day. Many are married, so they may well be dealing with pandemic-related anxieties connected to their spouse’s job. Many are parents. This means they not only navigate the complications to their own teaching, but they have to navigate the complications affecting their own children’s education. Many are themselves adult children or have other close bonds with older loved ones who are in high-risk categories should they become infected. And many teachers themselves might be in one or more high-risk categories. Also, like everyone else teachers are anxious about all the other stuff: the economy, politics, etc.
What I don’t want to convey is that teachers are the only folks who are struggling with 2020. Everybody is struggling and every profession has is unique complications. What I do want to remind you of is that teachers play a unique and critically important role in our society. Their job is really important all the time and really difficult much of the time. And this year has been especially hard. This fall has been especially hard. Today is especially hard. So encourage the teachers around you. Pray for the teachers around you. Find tangible ways to support the teachers around you.
And for those of you reading this who are teachers: thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you are doing to make the best of a really difficult time. Hang in there. Please don’t give up. We all need you. God bless you.

Monday, November 16, 2020

To the Praise of His Glory!

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober minded and watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  I Peter 5:6-9

These verses are loaded with a message to Midwestern Christian Academy as we face our sixth month of operation during a viral pandemic.  Our school was already in a recovery and rebuilding process from a previous complicated issue that had caused conflict.  We were seeing hopeful signs of recovery including a very promising re-enrollment and a potential influx of new students when we stopped in-person learning and made the switch to E-learning last March.  

A Prowling Enemy

Christian schools have been around as long as the church, but the modern Christian school movement in America dates back to the period of time just after World War 2.  Protestant Christianity was the primary influence over the philosophical foundations of most of the public education system going back almost to the very beginning of compulsory grade school education.  It was so influential, that the Catholic church started its own school system to get the children of their families back under the instruction of the church. 

Schools started and operated by Evangelical Christians began to pop up in the 1950's as a response to the progressive education movement which by then had gained control of the instruction and curriculum of most American public schools.  The progressive movement saw the public school system at the primary means to bring about social reform in America.  They succeeded in removing the Christian influences and teaching in the schools by getting the courts to use the establishment clause of the Constitution to invoke "religious neutrality" and replaced God with the belief that human intellect is the highest power in the universe and that education of the intellect is the solution to resolving humankind's problems.  

Chicago was one of the first places where progressives succeeded in getting control of the public school system.  One of the early progressive movement leaders was John Dewey, a professor at the University of Chicago who established teacher training schools in the city where many of the public school teachers earned their degree and certification.  As Christians began to see the effect of this turn toward a completely secular, humanist philosophy of education and the removal of Christian influence and even historical references to church history in the curriculum, some saw starting their own schools as a response.  Midwestern Christian Academy was one of those schools, founded by Midwest Bible Church, a non-denominational church with a strong Evangelical perspective.  The school's legacy spans sixty years of providing a strong, Biblically-based, Christ centered education to thousands of Chicago children who have passed through the doors.   

The establishment of Christian schools where biblical truth is the foundation of the educational philosophy and students get instruction which supports their faith formation and shapes the spiritual calling of God in their lives has attracted the attention of the prowling lion.  The disadvantages faced by schools that are balancing resources provided mainly by tuition coming from families that are already paying taxes to support a public education system they aren't using are amplified by operating in a city like Chicago, where high density development makes acquiring property and operating buildings expensive.  In this city of 2.8 million people, America's third largest, there are fewer than 10 schools with a strong Evangelical Christian background currently in operation, only three high schools and a combined enrollment of under 1,000 students.  MCA is one of the oldest among that group.  

As one of those who has survived for over sixty years, MCA can point to enemy attacks which have been aimed at putting it out of existence, silencing its voice and eliminating its influence.  This is not the first time the school has experienced a crisis and according to the words of Peter's epistle, it is not likely to be the last.  

MCA was recovering from a time of conflict and turmoil which caused difficulties, impacted the school's finances and led to some changes that included a setback in an attempted start of a high school program in the 2017-18 school year.  In spite of those issues, there were signs that the school was recovering and being blessed.  We were looking at a re-enrollment percentage of over 90% of eligible students returning in the fall of 2019 and the enrollment of 30 new students.  Early enrollment for the fall of 2020 was exceeding expectations and new student applications were up over the same period from the previous year. 

Then the roaring lion appeared.  COVID-19 closed in-person instruction in mid-March and stay-at-home orders were issued.  

Many of our students' parents work in retail.  Altogether, 20 of our school's families faced either a temporary layoff or a job termination.  A few were still able to consider paying tuition, but most were faced with the difficult decision of having to drop.  We are not sure how many prospective students were affected, but we know many parents who have Pre-K children decided to forego enrollment because of the possibility of a return to E-learning.  We were able to enroll 19 new students this year, including several who have come in because CPS is still on-line with no certainty of a return to in-person instruction.  But it is clear that COVID-19 is the obstacle that stands between us and an enrollment that represents a strong recovery and a balanced budget.  

Our Instructions

Humble yourselves (v.6).  Everything that we accomplish as a Christian school ministry comes from complete dependence on God.  Our teachers work for a salary that is far below what any of them could earn in the public school system.  They are here because they have submitted their lives to God's will and believe this is what he has called them to do.  We are serving Him by serving our students and their families.  

Cast all your anxieties on him. (v.7).  It is difficult not to worry about the future.  God has blessed MCA for over sixty years.  What seems to be a big bump in the road to us is easily overcome by Him.  

Be sober minded and watchful. (v.8)  We aren't just conducting business as usual.  We are carefully planning and using the resources we have, being as efficient as possible.  We are on guard against the possibilities and we take the situation with the seriousness that it demands.  We take our responsibility as stewards of this ministry seriously.  We trust in God's protection.

Resist him, firm in your faith. (v.9) MCA has been around for over 60 years and we believe it is God's will for it to be around for at least another 60.  There are never any guarantees in a ministry like this, but students who graduate from Christian schools are equipped to make a difference in the world when they understand God's plan for their lives and commit to fulfilling their mission and purpose.  The impact of MCA's ministry is effective and far-reaching.  We place our faith and trust in God, who has given us Jesus as our savior and the Holy Spirit. 

In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.  Ephesians 1:13-14 

MCA will continue to serve the Lord, to the praise of his glory! 

An Investment in the Future of MCA

So during this time of crisis, we are asking those who have been blessed by the ministry of MCA, as a graduate of the school, former student, parents who sent their children here, a Christian who sees the value of a Christian school education or a Christian who lives in Chicago and sees the impact that a Christian school has in this city, for your help.  

We need to make up the budget shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and put the school on a solid financial footing for the upcoming school year.  We don't know what 2021-22 looks like right now.  We are, like everyone else, hoping that medical science will be well on its way to conquering this virus.  The effects that it has left behind will still be around.  We need to think of families whose lives were turned upside down and who will need a longer time to recover.  

We need to be ambitious and hopeful for what God wants to do with our school in the future.  Here's how you can help: 

  • If you are a family with a currently enrolled student, please make an early commitment to re-enrollment.  Our diligence in planning is helped greatly when we have a good idea of how many students to expect.  We've set a March 31 deadline for re-enrolling early and are offering the incentive of a registration and tuition discount for those who do this for us.  Your commitment to us is always a blessing. 
  • You have friends in your church and community who need to be informed about what MCA offers.  Let them know that it works for you.  
  • If you are a graduate, former student or parents of former students and MCA was a blessing to you, please share something with us out of the abundance of your blessings.  No gift is too small.  Everything you can do is appreciated deeply.  If you can give regularly, we have many ways to put your gift to use, including in student scholarships for which you can receive a tax credit.  
Thank you.  God bless you. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Christian Schools Instill a Protestant Family Ethic (reposted with credit given)

Link to a great article about the influence of Christian education on its students.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Who Influences Your Child for 7 Hours, 5 Days a Week?

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.  

Monday, August 31, 2020

Not the Week We Planned, But Still Counting Blessings

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.