Why We Support Private Education
Kingswood and Educational Excellence
The tradition of compulsory education does not go back more than 200 years in America and Europe. Concerns about the education of those who were not among the privileged arose in England in the seventeenth century when the first schools opened in Methodist and then Anglican Churches to teach children who were working in coal mines and factories six days each week. These began as Sunday Schools and made use of the Bible alone to teach children the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. The state soon took an interest in working children and began to require a limited amount of education for all. This blossomed into the modern-day school systems of the United States that today require at least ten grades of education before a student can drop out. Early compulsory schools continued to make use of the Bible and they focused on creating a moral as well as intellectual environment as their predecessors had. As our society and government have changed and morals have declined, there has been a corresponding change in public education. The result is a wide-spread growth in Christian and Church-based schools across America.
There are a number of reasons why Faith Church started Kingswood, its private school, in 1993, and there are a number of reasons why we should, as a church and people, continue to support this vital and useful ministry of the church.
The Moral Decline
Though we prefer a more positive approach to the world and its woes, we must admit that the moral decline of America is becoming so serious that not even the most jaded can ignore it. Shootings, increasing drug use among teens, disregard for things spiritual while permitting pagan rituals and worship, and the growth of inappropriate entertainments that focus on sensuality and encourage violence are all signs of this moral decline. This has slipped into some of our schools and is, in many cases, without restraint by teachers or administrators. One of our elementary teachers, Mrs. Camilla Jones, retired from the public schools in 2000 partly because of the language and attitudes of her students; she was teaching first-graders. While this is not the case in all public institutions, it is a growing concern. What we constantly hear and see we eventually condone and embrace. “Evil communications corrupt good manners” (I Corinthians 15:33), or “Bad company corrupts good manners.”Concerned about growing secularism, A. A. Hodge, a principal of Princeton Seminary during the late eighteenth century, wrote that “the United States system of national popular education will be the most efficient and wide instrument for the propagation of Atheism which the world has never seen.”
Keeping The Faith
The Apostle Paul encourages us often to study and know the doctrines that we are presented in the Word. Martin Luther, the man who began the Protestant Reformation, once wrote the following: “I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt. […] I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth.“ It is vital that scriptural and moral truths are taught and etched on the hearts and minds of our children. The doctrines that we teach are unique to many Christian churches because they go back to the roots of the faith and encourage students to do their best morally as well as academically. Many students who attend private schools can benefit from the hope and change that faith-based education can offer.
It may be cliche to say that we offer “educational excellence” to our students, but it is certainly true. With reduced class sizes, teachers can focus on the needs of individual students, students who might be left behind in the overcrowded classrooms of many public schools. The average class size in many Illinois elementary schools, for example, is 20, while the average class size in private schools is below 10. Kingswood has an excellent faculty with one half having a master’s degree or higher. Many of our students go on to college with a number being accepted directly into the University of Illinois. We have often said that a student can go as far as they would like at Kingswood, and this remains true. The faculty is ready to serve and allow growth on all academic levels; indeed, students are constantly encouraged to reach higher and challenge themselves academically.
Our mission is to provide an excellent prep school education in a positive, moral environment. Private school is not the answer for all, nor is it necessary in some venues, but for some it does offer an excellent alternative and an opportunity for growth. Please pray for all students and educators during the coming school-year that God will guide and direct us in all that we do.