Death of the Christian School Movement


While doing some reading on why the Christian School Movement is now dead , I have listed the following as my conclusion:

1.) It grew out of religious fundamentalism and weak academics.

2.) After Brown v. Board in 1954, racism championed its cause. Many southern churches opened their basements and Sunday school classes to allow parents an option. Many parents from the South sought options that would  protect their interest from that of the federal government. By creating a school in a church, the federal government could not invoke its voice.

3.) The movement promoted and endorsed unqualified teachers. Many were not academics, but Sunday school teachers with a single agenda.

4.) Fundamentalism has shifted to the home school movement due to the financial uncertainty of the schools that made up this movement, and the limited options of other types of Christian schools that did not compromise to an overly conservative audience. Today many Christian schools seek to expand the knowledge of students by recruiting an elite faculty. Of course, such faculty members tend not to have a singular agenda. Many are highly academic. Case in point: This creates a conflict between the mission of parents who believe Bible classes should be taught like a Sunday school class, and not like an academic discipline.

5.) It lacks racial, cultural, and intellectual diversity. With small endowments and the inability to raise money, schools of this movement fail to attract a diverse population. Such schools also struggle in attracting faculty members that are both racially, politically, and intellectually diverse.

As noted in Pearl Kane and Alfonso Orsini’s work, The Colors of Excellence:

People of color, be they African-American, Native American, Asian, Middle Eastern or whatever ethnic group, have spent years discovering their roots, developing a keen pride in their heritage, and accepting who they are. So don’t expect the current crop of prospective faculty to fit into your conservative profile. Many of them will not, and, frankly, I don’t think they should even try! Is that shocking? Is that unacceptable to you and your clientele? Then, perhaps, diversity is really not for you. If a turban or a dashiki pants suit offends, then so will diversity! Diversity by definition implies that the status quo will be upset.

6.) Schools try to be and function like a church. Thus, there are too many single denominational schools with little academic focus. A school cannot be nor should it be a church.

7.) Status usurped that of faith. Some parents have learned that schools cannot be a church. Schools must be institutions that offer the greatest opportunity for the future success of their student. Thus, it is the job of parents to teach their faith, not a school. Now, this does not mean a school should lack a spiritual component. Many of the best sectarian and nonsectarian schools in the nation offer this.

8.) Schools of this movement invested poorly. They were satisfied with sub par facilities and little to no endowment. Because of race and the radicalism of the 1960s, the movement lacked a vision beyond that of dogmatism. In essence, their alums were not in a position to contribute to the present cause of the school.

9.) Pluralism is highly significant to the 21st century student. Schools of this movement tend to subscribe to a wholly protective way of thinking.

Here is a summary:

Both religion and race have played important — and sometimes deeply interconnected — roles in American history. Religion was used to justify both slavery and abolition; likewise it was used to justify both segregation and desegregation. Today even conservative Christians support equality between the races, but that doesn’t mean that everything is settled or peaceful. In truth, evangelical Christianity continues to reinforce racial divides.


4 thoughts on “Death of the Christian School Movement

  1. Home schooling has impacted this shift. I agree with this part the most seeing that highly conservative people fear what they cannot control. The race part is interesting. So much so that I did not realize how much has been written on this topic until I did a search.

  2. Two thoughts, amigo:

    (1) Is the Christian school movement dead or merely in decline? What kind of data/statistics do we have on this?

    (2) In response to #9: “Pluralism is highly significant to the 21st century student. Schools of this movement tend to subscribe to a wholly protective way of thinking.” I want to nuance the term “pluralism” a little bit. Peter Berger, for example, notes a difference between “plurality” and “pluralism.” The pluralist (i.e., someone who subscribes to pluralism) would be one who thinks that we should encourage plurality. Pluralism, as an -ism, places value on plurality. Plurality, however, is merely a condition: we exist in a plural culture. Do you think that America, in general, is pluralist? I.e., do Americans seek to encourage plurality? Or do you think that most Americans are coping with plurality? (Do you see the distinction? Not sure if that’s totally lucid.)

    I’m interested in the forum. Haven’t ordered the book, though.

  3. If only it were dead. I feel as if we live in the capital of these church-schools, but I certainly agree that the homeschoolers are hurting their market share.

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