Education Reform Part 3: Make it Real

The classroom and the government
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In Parts One and Two of this series on education reform I discussed both the problems of government-run education and the possible solutions. In essence, the main message was “take your kids out of government-run schools.” This final part of the series will deal with the nuts and bolts of bringing one of those suggestions into reality.

Education reform: how I did it

Since I can only intelligently speak from my experience, I will discuss the process I went through in founding a Christian high school. Hopefully, will inspire other like-minded citizens to do the same.

Driving home from an event with a friend of mine one evening, we discussed the present state of academics in New Jersey – which were not acceptable in our opinions. Both of us had been homeschooling moms at different points in time. We elected to go this route for two reasons:

  1. The dumbing-down of our children was unacceptable; and
  2. The liberal indoctrination of our children was unacceptable.

Then came the question that would literally change lives: “what can we do about this?” The answer seemed simple enough: create an acceptable school where our children can get the education they need without the liberal indoctrination. The next question was: “So, what is stopping us from doing this?” The answer was – Nothing!

The next step for a Christian like myself was to pray. I prayed that God would make it clear if this was something He wanted me to do. Boy, did He make it clear. It seemed everywhere I went I ran into people complaining about education and expressing a need to do something about it. Fortunately, the naysayers seemed nonexistent – at least until after I firmly believed this was God’s will. After coming to that conclusion, no power in hell could have stopped me.

From concept to planning

Education reform: do it yourself.

Education reform might mean doing it ourselves

At the time, I was in a church that supported this vision 110%, including one man and one woman that would join with me in executing the vision. We quickly organized a community meeting, which was very well attended. My gentlemen teammate was the “outside” man as I called him. His job put him on the road throughout the State most of the time. In his travels he spoke to everyone who would listen, and before you knew it, we had a strong core group that would stick together through thick and thin.

We also spoke to others who had founded the Christian grade schools in our County and they were more than enthusiastic about our new endeavor and were a valuable resource in helping to spread the word.

We hosted two public meetings that were hugely successful and in the process found that others saw the same problems we did. One of the most fruitful things produced from these two meetings was a steering committee that expanded our small core group to a larger one, most became our first Board and stood with the vision until well after it became a reality.

The steering committee met on a weekly basis and made critical decisions about what the school would become, such as: writing our statement of faith, our educational philosophy, naming the school (which turned out to be some of our more stressful sessions), deciding on whether or not we would admit only Christians from Christian homes into the school, and finally, would the school be board-run or association-run.

From planning group to community

We also began speaking to many other schools that had been through this process and we were able to glean a wealth of information. We collected copies of student handbooks, faculty handbooks, office procedure manuals and board procedure manuals, all of which we modified to suit our means.

During the process we held annual fund-raising dinners. The community rose to the challenge and donated the funds that made the school more than just a dream. Of course all of these donations were tax deductible. The donations also made it possible to open the doors of a school that was not underfunded and had a realistic budget to work with. The generosity of the community also made it possible for us to hire our first Administrator before actually opening the school doors. This enabled us to create a well-run school with all the “i’s” dotted and all the “t’s” crossed. He was also instrumental in helping us determine how many teachers we needed to hire and in designing a curriculum as well as other ancillary materials.

The school is still small by most high school standards but the accomplishments of our students are not. After being in operation for a little over six years, I am happy to report that our students are averaging 100 points higher on their SAT scores than their government-run school counterparts, which are regional high schools classified by the State as “Blue Ribbon” schools. Sure, those schools have all the fancy fields, and weight rooms, and indoor pools, and fancy auditoriums, yadda, yadda, yadda, but our kids are thriving beyond what anyone ever anticipated.

“Amateurs” v. “professionals”

Of course there were other details that were addressed in the process, but the scenario above represents the bulk of the important issues. If you are considering doing something similar, I think you will see that this was not rocket science. Furthermore, the steering committee consisted of two homeschooling moms, one title insurance salesman, one septic system maintenance company owner, one computer programmer and one assistant pastor. Later we were joined by one paramedic, and over the years we were joined by a chemist, two lawyers and one farm, animal feed and garden business owner – not a professional educator among us until we were joined by a consultant who later became our Administrator.

While we all had an abundance of commitment and vision, we lacked any expertise at all, but we had the good sense to seek it out from the many sources available. And as I’ve often said, if I can do it, so can you. It is an achievable and a very rewarding endeavor. Rarely do average citizens have the opportunity to do something for the good of mankind that will last beyond their lifetime. This is such an opportunity. If it’s something you are toying with – stop playing and start doing. You will be amazed by what an average citizen can still do today in America. You will be amazed by what you can do in America today.