The Anatomy of an Unaccredited Christian School

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In this post, I want to take a look at State Line Christian School, an unaccredited fundamentalist Christian school that is operated under the auspices of the Lewis Ave Baptist Church in Temperance, Michigan. I know nothing about this school or church, and everything I write in this post has been gleaned from the church’s or school’s website.

Lewis Avenue Baptist Church, is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church pastored by Steve Hobbins. Pastor Hobbins has been the pastor of the church since 2008. Prior to that, his father was the pastor for 37 years. Like many IFB churches, Lewis Avenue is a franchise operation, handed down from father to son. (though 9% of voting church members voted against Steve Hobbins becoming pastor in 2008)

In 2001, the church built a 1,300 seat auditorium. I found nothing on the church’s website that states their actual attendance.  Interestingly, I found nothing on their website that stated what they believed. There is one page that details how a person can go to heaven when they die. Here is the prayer they suggest a sinner pray:

Dear Jesus,

I know I’m a sinner, I know I cannot save myself. I know you died on the cross for my sin. I ask you to come into my heart and forgive my sins, and take me to heaven when I die. AMEN

Lewis Avenue operates a bus ministry, along with a seniors ministry, singles ministry, mentally handicapped ministry, children’s ministry, music ministry, a teen ministry that focuses on soulwinning, and a Spanish ministry. The church also has a Reformers Unanimous chapter. (please see the first post in the series, Reformers Unanimous)

The centerpiece of Lewis Avenue Baptist Church’s plan to train future IFB leaders is the State Line Christian School. The school’s about page states:

When State Line Christian School opened in 1973, Pastor Hobbins’s vision was to open not just a private school, but a Christian school, one that held the beliefs of Lewis Avenue Baptist Church and the other churches in the Greater Toledo area. The school is Baptist-based with a strong emphasis on evangelism.

State Line started with just a K-4 and K-5, but added grades every year, until they graduated their first class in 1980. It is considered a preparatory school for college – a student’s core classes are chosen for him, and each student gets four years of English, math, and science. The school uses A Beka Book curriculum. State Line has been successful in preparing its students in that better than 90% of graduates go on to pursue college…

State Line is an unaccredited Christian school that uses A Beka Books, the publishing arm of Pensacola Christian College, for their curriculum.  For one child in grade 1 through 12, the tuition cost is $4,000.00 plus an enrollment fee and an additional costs fee. Total cost for one child? Around $4,100.00.  For families with two children enrolled the tuition cost is $6,250.00. Four children? $8,250.00. The State Line website does not mention if there is an additional tuition cost for more than four children. If a family is delinquent in making their tuition payments for more than 45 days, their children will not be permitted to attend the school. If payment arrangements are not made, the school will “pursue any and all action to
collect past due money.”
If this step is taken, a 20% fee is added to the amount owed.

Pastor Steve Hobbins is the superintendent and Joshua Newbold is the principal. Both Hobbins and Newbold attended an unnamed, and I assume unaccredited, Bible college. According to the hard to find listing of school staff (no link on school website), the school has 21 teachers:

Out of 21 teachers, only one is certified by the state of Michigan.

State Line Christian School operates under the laws of the Michigan for non-public schools:

  • They are not required to use any particular textbook
  • Their school/church  properties and buildings are exempt from personal and real estate tax
  • They are required to do criminal background checks on all employees
  • They are not required to keep school records
  • They are not required to be accredited by any recognized accrediting body
  • They are not required to use certified or college educated teachers

At one time, Michigan law stated:

  • Teacher certification is optional. A teacher may qualify to work in a nonpublic
    school in one of the following three ways: obtain a Michigan Teaching Certificate;
    obtain a substitute, full year, or emergency teaching permit; obtain a bachelor‘s
    degree.
  • Persons without valid teaching certificates who have the requisite college credit may
    apply to the Michigan Department of Education for a teaching permit for employment
    in a nonpublic school under Mich. Admin. Code R 390.1142 (full-year permit);
    R 390.1143 (substitute permit); and R 390.1144 (emergency permit).
  • Teachers in the regular or elementary grade studies in a private, denominational or
    parochial school, i.e., a school other than a public school giving instruction to
    children below the age of 16 years, in the first eight grades, must hold a teaching
    certificate that would qualify them to teach in like grades of the public schools. Mich.
    Comp. Laws §§388.552; 388.553.

In 1993, The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the above provision unconstitutional when applied to families whose religious convictions prohibit the use  of certified instructors. In  People v. DeJonge, a lawsuit filed by the fundamentalist Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), the Michigan Supreme Court ruled 4-3 for DeJonge and invalidated the requirement mentioned above. Thus State Line is under no requirement  as far as their teachers are concerned, and this is why most them have degrees from unaccredited fundamentalist Christian colleges. (and many IFB oriented churches/pastors have a hatred for the government. They believe in a strict separation of church and state until it comes to demanding public school students pray, read the Bible, be taught creationism. be taught abstinence, etc.)

Like all fundamentalist Christian schools, State Line has a strict code of conduct. While I was unable to find a copy of their student manual online, which is not uncommon for fundamentalist schools that want to hide their rules from prying eyes, I did find a 7th-12th grade  student conduct agreement form which must be signed by the student, the school administrator, and the student’s parent. The student must answer in the affirmative or negative to the following questions/statements:

  • Do you attend church regularly? Where?
  • Do you have any objections to saluting the United States Flag, the Christian Flag, or the Bible?
  • Do you understand that the goals and standards of State Line Christian School are based on principles found in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament?
  • Have you read our Student Handbook carefully?
  • Is there any standard you do not understand? If answered yes, Which one?
  • Will you dress according to the standards of State Line Christian School?
  • Will you establish and have a daily time for Devotions?
  • Will you honestly agree to keep all the school’s rules and respect authority without being critical and find fault?
  • Do you want to attend State Line Christian School?

After answering these questions, the student must READ ALOUD:

“As a student of State Line Christian School, I WILL NOT cheat, swear, smoke, gamble, dance, drink alcoholic beverages, use indecent language, use drugs, or behave in a disorderly or disrespectful manner. I WILL maintain Christian standards in courtesy, kindness, morality and honesty. I WILL strive to be of unquestionable character in dress, conduct and other areas of my life. I WILL attend all weekly services of my church unless providentially hindered. I am willing by the enabling of God to refrain from anything good or bad which might cause others to stumble, to bring reproach to the cause of Christ, to cause disrespect to the glory of God, or to be a negative influence in the character development of myself or others. I will at all times seek to maintain a careful discipline and diligence in the pursuit of my academic opportunities. I will cooperate with those in authority over me and will personally maintain respect for properly placed authority.

I realize that keeping the standards depends upon my attitude and spirit towards the goals of Christian Education. My spirit depends upon my heart commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and the goals He wants for me during my stay at State Line Christian School.

There is much evidence from Pastors, Christian Educators, and Christian Counselors across our nation that bad music, Hollywood movies,television, and bad companionship affects the character, spirit and performance of students. Any evidence that a student is under the influence or control of such will result in disciplinary measures.

While these standards will be strictly enforced, it needs to be understood that we are far more interested in a student’s spirit and attitude than outward conformity to the standards with a rebellious spirit. The student should know that attitudes show just like actions and will be approved or disapproved.

There are tens of thousands of churches like Lewis Ave Baptist Church and thousands of these churches have schools that are just like State Line Christian School. Thousands of American children are being educated in unaccredited schools, taught by non-certified teachers. These schools use fundamentalist Christian textbooks that teach evolution is a myth and promote American exceptionalism and Christian nationalism. Some of these schools don’t even use textbooks, using instead a self-guided curriculum published by Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) or Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute (ATI). (and there are many other explicitly Christian education materials publishers)

Secularists and humanists think educating children is vitally important. Having an educated populace is for our common good, and it is to everyone’s benefit to make sure every child is adequately, properly, and comprehensively educated. We expect that the Federal and State governments, along with local school boards,  will regulate schools in such a way that schools provide a quality education to every American child. (and I recognize that the government has failed miserably in this regard)

Fundamentalist Christian churches and schools have lobbied legislators and have taken to the courts to demand exemption from state laws that regulate what they can and can not do. In many states, they have been quite successful, and this is why there are schools like State Line Christian School. Here in Ohio, any church can start a non-charted, unaccredited religious school. There are no regulations for such schools, and for families who choose to home school, the regulations are few. In others words, many states and local jurisdictions have abdicated their responsibility to regulate and investigate many of the schools that educate their children.

Even worse, right-wing politicians are working hard to pass voucher laws that enable private Christian schools to receive state funding without little or no oversight.  Thousands of American children have their private, religious education paid for by taxpayers. These voucher programs have caused a huge census and financial drain on many public school systems.

I put this post together so readers of The Way Forward could see how a typical fundamentalist Christian school operates. I do not know anyone at State Line Christian School or Lewis Ave Baptist Church. They came up in a web search I was doing and I decided that they would be a good example of a non-accredited, private, fundamentalist Christian school.

Should these schools (and homeschools) be permitted to operate outside the purview of federal, state, and local authorities? Should they be exempt from the laws that public schools must follow? Should we “trust” these schools to properly educate children without making sure they do so? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

My opinion? ALL schools, public, private, homeschool, should be strictly regulated by the federal,state, and local governments. They should receive NO public funding unless they are. I have no objection to religiously motivated private schools or homeschooling as long as they are properly regulated. We ALL have a vested interest in making sure that American children are adequately, properly, and comprehensively educated.

Comments (43)

  1. Jennesh

    As a teacher who works my butt off, this burns me up. It seems that every year more arbitrary rules and goals and complicated formulas and things are added to our jobs to decide if we are “worthy” of our pay. We regularly get students from unaccredited parochial schools or Amish private schools (where they are taught by young Amish women who only have an eighth grade education!) and are expected to teach them everything so that they can pass the standardized tests, and if they don’t, it could hurt our pay as teachers. Meanwhile, more and more students receive vouchers to attend private schools. Ugh.
    It makes me crazy!!!

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    Eventually, I would love to have some part in writing new legislation that would make these kinds of schools/homeschooling illegal. I was a victim of a school very much like the one you described and a graduate of Hyles-Anderson. The amount of lies I was tested on is revolting. Thank you for raising awareness!

    Reply
  3. 29dinosaurScott

    As an Aussie looking on I’m just here shaking my head. Closeted schooling – either private CS or home schooling! (Stopping exporting this crap to Australia or we won’t join you in any more coalition of the w(k)illing!)

    Reply
    1. John Arthur

      Hi 29dinosaurS cott,

      I’m from Australia, too, and I agree with your comment. We don’t want Americans exporting this kind of nonsense here.

      Shalom,
      John Arthur

      Reply
  4. Paula

    Schools like this, and the parents who send their children to them because of insane hatred for the “government schools”, really push all my buttons—-HARD. These people who are deliberately giving the next generation an inferior education with which to take their places in society are of far more concern to me than the government.

    People who deliberately entrust the education of their children to unaccredited teachers aren’t fit to be parents.

    This could be corrected in one of two ways. Either make it illegal to send your child to a school with unaccredited teachers, OR require that children sent to these schools–or home schooled–be required to pass the same standardized tests that children in real schools take. If they fail, they must be sent to real school.

    I think it only fair to point out that there ARE religious schools that have accredited teachers, and sterling reputations.

    Reply
  5. Ian

    I am a product of Christian schools/homeschool and I have done well for myself. Of course, my parents were involved, heavily, in every aspect of my schooling. No slacking off, no days off, etc. Of course, not every one I knew who homeschooled did as well as I did. My father also had my brother and I helping him with manual laboratory, too- I learned how to complete as-builts for construction projects, among other things.

    We homeschool our kids. We use a system that requires us to take standardized state testing every year. Because we are involved in their education, our kids do well.

    I am in favor of making homeschooled/Christian schooled kids taking standardized tests. I have seen so many kids come out of 12 years of school with an inferior education. On the other hand, I have seen many kids graduate from public schools who were functionally illiterate and have no concept of basic chemistry or math. I know this first hand because I used to hire these young people and had to give them crash/remedial chemistry and math so they could do their jobs. I truly believe that parental involvement in schooling of any kind is the key.

    Not a fan of public funds for private schools. Of course, my taxes pay for other people’s children to attend public school. I know it is my choice, but it is just a thought.

    Reply
  6. Stephanie

    The code of conduct part made me laugh cause I kept thinking about how many of those things I end up doing on a semi-regular basis…oops. My mouth, clothing, dancing and drinking would do me in.

    It is scary to think about how many children are receiving such subpar education. Every child should be getting accurate information in every area of education: math, science, history, etc and not just the fundamentalist Christian version.

    Reply
  7. ismellarat

    What standards should a public school meet, to keep its accreditation? There must be some, because I don’t think anyone says they’re not accredited.

    But with results like these, how is it possible that they’re being met?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literacy_in_the_United_States#National_Assessment_of_Adult_Literacy_.28NAAL.29

    It probably has to do with there having to be a public school available in every locality, whether it meets any standards, or not. But doesn’t this create a double standard, where it would indeed be possible for better, albeit unaccredited, home schools getting shut down in the name of higher standards, only to have its kids being thrown into worse situations?

    One thing that I would bet couldn’t happen at the same rates in home schooling situations are instances of bullying and suicide.

    http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/bullying-and-suicide.html

    What choice would such kids have, other than their parents constantly moving to different districts, or them being shuttled around on the “special bus,” in a system where, say, some kind of handicap makes them a target wherever they go, and where it’s illegal to teach them in any other way?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      The people at Lewis Ave would have still started State Line even if the local public schools were the best in the state. Government schools are considered temples of satanism, socialism, evolution, and immorality.

      Our public schools have their own problems, but siphoning off students which results in a loss of money only hurts public schools. Many politicians are doing all they can to cripple the public schools. Reason? They want to destroy the unions. A lot of things need fixed in public schools. Starting and funding more private schools fixes nothing.

      In the case of State Line, the greater question is what are the children being taught? Is it ok to teach creation science? Abstinence only sex education? Of greater concern is the American exceptionalism and Christian nationalism these kind of schools teach.

      Here in Ohio, we have open enrollment. Parents can enroll their children in a different school district. My oldest son has his children enrolled in a nearby school district that is smaller than the district where they live.

      Reply
      1. ismellarat

        “siphoning off students which results in a loss of money ”

        Whose money? :)

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Tax money. State aid, at least here in Ohio, is based on enrollment on a certain date. If a district gets 4,000.00 per student, and a private school siphons off 50 students, the local school district loses 200,000.00.

          Reply
          1. ismellarat

            Oops, I’m wrong, on a technicality. I was thinking as if the schools were a business. :)

            If someone withdraws their kids from a public school, they don’t get their allocation (or even their property taxes) back to spend on them, so I can’t very well make the argument that they have (or even should have) any control over it, unless a change is legislated. Fundamentalists’ whines might often say no, no, no, but their votes keep saying yes, yes, yes, to a system they – deep, down – really love. :)

            I’m not sure how the money gets to where it gets. I thought the local property taxes funded the schools. Do they all go to the state, which then gives back the same amount to each enrolled child in the state? Do the school-related property tax rates then not vary across the state?

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Real estate taxes fund many things in Ohio, along with public schools. There is also money that comes directly from the state and I think lottery and casino proceeds are also used to fund schools.

            I oppose the real estate tax because it keeps a person from ever really owning their property. The state can and will take your property away if you fail to pay your taxes for two years.

            In Ohio we have been trying to fix the school funding issue for 20 years. Districts with high property values get far more money than poorer districts. This formula was ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court, but the legislature still hasn’t fixed the problem. BTW, the poor school district that sued the State was the one of the districts where I pastored in SE Ohio. I saw firsthand how poverty hindered the schools ability to adequately educate local school children.

          3. Paula

            I read something disturbing related to this in today’s paper. The school district of Baton Rouge Parish, LA, is comprised of both well to do and impoverished neighborhoods. The better off neighborhoods have petitioned to form their own separate school district so that all their taxes would go to their own excellent schools and none of their money would be siphoned off to support the run down schools of the rest of the district. I suspect the Tea Party is alive and well in Baton Rouge. Public schools have historically worked because everyone contributed to the same fund and most people used the public schools.

  8. ismellarat

    Continuation of thread: “Real estate taxes fund many things in Ohio…”

    Yup, real estate taxes are the worst, especially for older people with paid-off property and low incomes. I would prefer that everything be done through sales taxes, as crazily high as they would then have to be, and user fees.

    Reply
  9. Aram McLean

    As an eight year member of an ACE school, your comic heading brought back wonderful memories, Bruce ;) The following is a short excerpt from my upcoming book which is partially based on my Christian private school experience:

    The boys’ hair was cut almost military and second-hand uniforms were found. Although the prison’s style changed over the years, it always managed to incorporate a dress shirt, an ill-fitting vest, and what every boy dreams of wearing daily, a snug tie. These morbid bits and pieces were assembled together in a carefully selected medley of maroon, white, and grey. It created something you’d be more than happy to wear to a funeral, ever so excited for the first shovel-full of dirt to cover you.
    The girls were decked out in long grey skirts hung well below the knees so that men and boys wouldn’t lust after their evil nature and be tempted to rape them. A frilly white blouse with no chest pockets was their top half, as pockets might inadvertently draw males’ eyes to budding breasts. A sort of maroon ribbon wrapped around their necks completed the pretty picture. It didn’t look nearly as easy to hang yourself with.
    Unfortunately, every growth spurt made standing straight up turn into mild torture for my sisters, until such time as a cheap longer garment could be secured to cover up their titillating kneecaps once again.
    A six-inch-rule was strictly enforced. This meant, basically, that we five-year-old to twelve-year-old children were ordered to maintain a distance of at least six inches from the opposite sex at all times. Being completely unaware of why the adults felt a six-inch-rule was necessary in the first place, not one of us even got the double entendre for many years to come.
    The P.H.C.S. was an A.C.E. school, Accelerated Christian Education, based out of that most God-fearing of gun-slinging states, Texas; and this so-called School of Tomorrow curriculum found fertile ground in the world. It was the 1980’s, after all, a decade eager to wipe out any surviving recollections of the free-spirited 70’s; whatever the LSD had left behind.
    Children were inherently demonic, the A.C.E. curriculum guidelines proclaimed without flinching. Naughty children must have the evil ones driven out of them by breaking their spirits. Children are born with their bums to heaven and their feet towards hell. God wouldn’t have given the little ones backsides if He didn’t believe they deserved chastisement, after all. These fierce declarations were followed by three pages in the A.C.E. teacher manual outlining the proper way to beat disobedient children.
    To make matters worse, the Russians were coming at any moment to kick off World War Three. Really it was a race between them and the dark riders. We wrote letters to our persecuted Soviet brethren in the early years, encouraging them through copied Russian phrases not to give up. We were praying for them. The Devil’s communism existed solely to oppress Christianity, but we were with them in Christ.
    The end was nigh. All the signs of Revelations were everywhere, yet again. Any day now the angels’ trumpets were going to take away a third of things. The arrival of bar codes was to be feared as being the obvious precursor to an all-encompassing Mark of the Beast. First the evil ones sneak it on the goods and next you know it will be burned into your very flesh.
    Meanwhile the bomb was expected to drop on any given Sunday, to announce the start of Armageddon and the seven years of Great Tribulation. After that would be the Millennium kingdom here on earth. Recruitment into the Lord’s army was high. The world was either with us or they were the Devil’s willing agents against us. There could be no in-between.
    “This is the true epoch!” the preachers cried, our school principal amongst them. “He comes like a thief in the night! Beg for your soul’s forgiveness, before it’s too late!”
    On the plus side, we continued to be told that letting Jesus into your heart was the sure cure for anything that ailed you, including rape, pedophilia, and homicide. Even Ted Bundy had been saved at his end by the ever-loving, porn-hating, public school despising James Dobson of Focus on the Family fame. Bundy had confessed his sins to Dobson, blamed his murdering and necrophilia behaviour on having viewed discarded violent pornography as a child, had let the Lord enter him forcibly, and with the help of over 2,000 volts was now sitting next to Jesus for eternity.
    No word on the state of his many victims’ souls.
    Having already read every Chick tract I could get my hands on, I knew the drill well. If anything I was initially happy the new school, with its own poorly-drawn comic series in the workbooks to boot, was slightly less intense than the churches we’d previously attended.
    The cold barrel of fearful persuasion continued to press firmly to the side of my head, its hammer clicking dryly away. The discharge was subtle as a match, but its flame spread like two tail-tied foxes lit up and running.
    This was my centre of learning, from the fall of my sixth year until the spring of my fourteenth.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Aram,

      Thanks for sharing this.

      Bruce

      Reply
      1. Aram McLean

        Thanks for not minding that I take advantage of your popular blog to forward my own agenda ;)
        (Though you know you’re getting a free copy, right? :)

        Reply
  10. Scott

    Sounds like a good read Aram. Let us all know when we can read it.

    Reply
    1. Aram McLean

      Thanks. And for sure. My hope is that Bruce will review it (though I haven’t asked him yet).

      You can check out some more excerpts on the ACE part of the book (though in a slightly less edited, somewhat changed form than the final book chapters as I’ve added bits and ‘fixed’ some of the prose since then) at Jonny Scaramanga’s blog:

      http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/tag/arams-progress/

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        I shall indeed review it. :)

        Reply
        1. Aram McLean

          Sweet! (And if you think it sucks I’ll pay you to say it doesn’t ;)

          Reply
        2. Aram McLean

          Incidentally, it’s looking like a fairly firm date of an Oct release (right in time for Christmas!). Just a heads up that you still have a bit of time to prepare yourself mentally ;)

          Reply
      2. Ian

        I read all three parts on the other blog. They sure brought back some memories. Thanks for sharing all of that.

        Reply
        1. Aram McLean

          Right on, man. Yeah, hell of thing to live through. But at this point, fully recovered as it were, I’m stronger for it. (Though still making up for academic failings every day, reading like a mofo :) )

          Reply
  11. Harold

    Bruce, I can certainly understand there are good reasons for your opinion “that all schools should be strictly regulated by the federal, state, local government” but if you flip this coin over Adolf Hitler would have said the same thing. Jesus said ” Beware the leaven of Herod ( government ). ” The State ( Nazism ) controlled the church in Germany. At issue here is when can the state force the church to teach things or delete things ( Hitler deleted the word ” mercy ” from German Bibles as it was not Germanic concept ) that the church teaches as truth. If the state decides homosexuality is genetic and a legitimate lifestyle and tells the church it can’t teach homosexuality as being sin, then the church must go under ground or quit being a church. Our founding fathers of this country feared government and we would be wise to do so today.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Hitler loved dogs too. Your point? Not sure if you discuss things much with people like me, but interjecting Hitler into any discussion is a discussion killer. It is like me saying Calvin burned people at the stake, thus Calvinism is wrong. Hitler has been dead almost 70 years. All of us gladly repudiate and condemn what he did. Now back to 2014. We as a people have a vested interest in children being educated. We can not afford to have an ill-educated/uneducated society. The future of civilization rests on people being properly educated. If a church wants to have a school, fine. But, their teachers must be properly educated and licensed. They must not teach religion in place of science. Religion should only be taught in a religion class. Same goes for sex education. God says No is not good instruction and religious schools should not be permitted to substitute Bible verses for a sound, comprehensive, rational education.

      In general, Evangelicals hate progressive, liberal, humanistic ideals and this is why they hate the public schools and start their own schools.

      Reply
      1. Aram McLean

        Godwin’s Law, and all that.

        Reply
      2. pilgrimsinthisworld

        The public school system is relatively a newer idea in the history of our country… at our founding many were home educated with parents or tutors or small community based (which were also church based schools) and literacy rates were extremely high. Literacy rates have dropped dramatically in the last thirty or so years. I’m also not sure all the blame goes to the public school system.. for it is a multi-faceted beast. I do agree with you about the conservative church/Republican etc.. God and country taste of power. I am budgeting one month soon to buy Frank Schaefer’s book “Crazy for God.” I read a sample, and look forward to taking an inside look at this power you have talked about.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          The first public schools in America were established in the 17th century. By 1870, every state had public elementary schools. By 1918, every state had a compulsory attendance law. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_education_in_the_United_States

          Stubborn thing, facts are.

          There are 200 million more people in the US today than in 1918, and our country is much different than it was a century ago. It is impossible to extrapolate anything of value from what Americans did a century ago. That was then and this is now. We as a people, have decided that we want ALL children properly educated, and the primary way of educating them is the public school. Siphoning off students and money for private schools/charter schools/homeschooling only cripples and weakens the public schools. Of course, this is by design. Right-wing Republicans want to totally privatize education and destroy the teacher’s unions.

          The public school system is like a car with four wheels. Right wing Republicans have ripped one wheel off the car and are trying to rip another wheel off the car, and then they complain about the car being broken down and unmovable. The public schools have plenty of problems that need fixed, and I plan to write a series on this, but taking money and students away from them is not the answer.

          Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I would add that churches can believe whatever they want. Tell me one thing that Christians can’t believe? Name one freedom Christians have lost? What one thing has Obama the socialist done that has kept Christians from freely and completely practicing their religion?

      The fact is, Christians are losing their place of power and control and they don’t like it. Increasing numbers of Americans have lost interest in Christianity and Christians don’t like this. So they scream and whine about losing their preferred place at the center of American life. They better get used to it because the number of non-Christians is only going to increase. Perhaps it is time for Christians to stop their war against culture and focus on living by the precepts and teachings of Jesus. How about showing the world a Christianity worth having? Right now, all that many of us see, is a bunch of sniveling kids who are mad because they can’t get their way and mad they aren’t allowed to be the playground bully any more.

      Reply
  12. Harold

    Bruce, total agreement with you that it is time for Christians to stop their war against culture and focus on living by the precepts and teachings of Jesus. Charles Spurgeon hit the nail on the head ( if you want to read it ) when he did an exposition on Psalms 102;15 “So the nations shall fear the name of the Lord. And all the kings of the earth your glory”. The church can and should be the conscience of a nation. Let the nation come to us for legislation instead of taking to and forcing the legislation on them. ” The wicked bow before the gates of the righteous “

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I don’t read theology books any more. No need to since the Canon is closed and nothing new can be added and nothing can be removed. Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun, and that includes theology, right? So, I don’t expect to read anything theologically that is new. New cover on the same, century old arguments is all that theological books are. And yes, I have read a lot of theology books in my life, including Charles Haddon Spurgeon. I had several of his books in print and all of his books on a computer cd. Since I was a Calvinist and a Baptist, I read Spurgeon often.

      I think Evangelicals will look back and regret the day they listened to Jerry Falwell and his call for a moral majority. When I started preaching in 1972, every Evangelical Baptist preacher believed in a strict separation of church and state. Today? It is hard to find one that does. They got a taste of political power and they don’t want to give it up. In their lust for power, they left behind the Jesus they say they follow. Too bad, because I think we would all benefit from people living out the sermon on the mount in their day to day lives.

      Reply
      1. Paula

        Your second paragraph here is a gem that points out the beginnings of our near totally dysfunctional government today.

        Reply
  13. gimpi

    “Should these schools (and homeschools) be permitted to operate outside the purview of federal, state, and local authorities? Should they be exempt from the laws that public schools must follow? Should we “trust” these schools to properly educate children without making sure they do so?”

    Not just no but hell, NO! Every institution that has the responsibility for educating children should be required to use fact-based curriculum, (no creation-science, please) accredited staff and test their students every year to be sure that basic academic standards are being met. I would put the same standards on home-schooling, except for accreditation, but I would require parents and their student-children to meet separately with an accredited educator once a quarter (at least) to help them develop their lesson-plans and review the student’s progress. The separate meetings would also allow the students to discuss any problems they are having in a home-school situation or just with their parents without parental observation.

    But, since I’m not Queen (yet:-) there’s no way that’s going to happen. In fact, we seem to be bending over backwards to empower churches and parents, sometimes at the expense of children.

    Reply
    1. pilgrimsinthisworld

      How about all the accredited educators that are letting students slip through the cracks??? I have seen way more public educated children that couldn’t read than private or home educated students. Literacy rates were very high at the founding of our country as opposed to now. I can not speak for private schools but home schools in Florida have to keep a portfolio and do, not a quarterly,, but an end of year meeting with a Florida certified school teacher. This teacher looks at work, evaluates, and gives helps, aids, tips, etc.. then turns in evaluation finds to the school board of education.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Of course there are, because public schools are much, much, much, did I say much, larger enrollment wise and they must take all students. Private schools are overwhelmingly white, middle/upper middle class, and are able to screen for the best students.

        Home schoolers/private schools should be required to meet the same standards as public schools. Ohio mandates annual test or a portfolio for all home schoolers. As long as they test at the 20th percentile, they can continue to home school their children. Ponder that number for a moment…20th percentile. As far the portfolio? Yes, it has to be reviewed by a certified teacher, and home schoolers go to certified teachers that are home school friendly. Do these two things do nothing to as far making sure the children are getting a comprehensive, competent education. (You do know I operated a Christian school and we home schooled our children for over 16 years?)

        Reply
        1. pilgrimsinthisworld

          Lots of public school students fall at the 20th… or below.. but a study has shown most home schoolers fall in the eightieth or above. My kids were usually above the fiftieth.. sometimes in the eightieth and my oldest daughter usually at the ninety ninth in language arts… and I would also argue that for all the “accountability” of the public school system, many, many, and I repeat many are not getting a competent education as well. Yes, they have higher enrollment and perhaps that is part of their problem in educating the masses. I still maintain that you are very black and white Bruce… you’ve just swung from one polar opposite to the other. I don’t have a problem with public school for families that want to do that.. in fact my daughter is seventeen and takes most of her classes now at the local state community college, I also hope that you gave your children a good education. ;)

          Reply
          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Facts are a stubborn thing. Please stop parroting HSLDA talking points. Your 80th percentile “fact.” How can it be a “fact” when most home school children don’t have to be tested, can submit a portfolio instead, or don’t have to take the same test public schools use? Here’s the facts:

            Only 11 states require standardized testing (and only ONE of these states require annual testing)
            13 require standardized testing or portfolio submission

            I am sure you can add…this is not even half the states.

            41 states have NO educational requirements for a parent to home school their children.

            https://www.hslda.org/laws/Summary_of_Laws.pdf

            I hope you will consider these facts the next time you want to parrot the 80 percentile line.

            Let me see if I understand you. Because I think all students should be taught by a certified teacher and tested using the same standardized tests, this means I am a fundamentalist? Nowhere did I say I oppose private schools or homeschooling. All I said was that they should not receive tax money, their teachers should be certified, and they should be tested like everyone else. I suspect most Americans would agree with me on this.

            You seem to think that because some public schools and students aren’t doing well that private schools/home schoolers should be permitted to do what they want. Why? Because they test out so well? Oh, but wait, we don’t know if they test out well because most of them don’t have to be tested.

            My kids did quite well educationally. Three of them are college graduates, one just graduated from Bowling Green State University. That said, I do not view a person going on to college as a sign of a child being successfully/comprehensively educated. There are too many variable to make such an assertion.

            I found that there were two studies done on home schoolers, both of which were done in the 1990′s. One was the Rudner study http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/543/666 He cautioned:

            Because this was not a controlled experiment, the study does not demonstrate that home schooling is superior to public or private schools and the results must be interpreted with caution. The report clearly suggests, however, that home school students do quite well in that educational environment

            Here is the link to the HSLDA study http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/ray2009/2009_Ray_StudyFINAL.pdf

            I hope you will consider carefully the language used in each report. A fair minded person should be able to see that the HSLDA study is driven by their ideology. This report is like a tobacco company study concluding that smoking is good for a person.

            Another point to keep in mind with these studies. Both of them studied less that 1% of home school students. Public school testing results are comprehensive and usually include ALL children. (with exceptions often made for developmentally disabled students)

  14. pilgrimsinthisworld

    If you are interested in education, you might read some of John Holt’s books. Perhaps you have already. I am not certain of this, but I “think” he was a secular humanist, maybe an athiest. I have two of his books on education and absolutely love them. http://www.johnholtgws.com/who-was-john-holt/ He was truly an amazing man,, and although I am quite certain we differed on world view, I find his books peaceful, compelling, and inspiring.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Ah yes, the father of unschooling. For readers not familiar with unschooling:

      Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that rejects compulsory school as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in maximizing the education of each unique child.

      The term “unschooling” was coined in the 1970s and used by educator John Holt, widely regarded as the “father” of unschooling.[1] While often considered a subset of homeschooling, unschoolers may be as philosophically separate from other homeschoolers as they are from advocates of conventional schooling. While homeschooling has been subject to widespread public debate, little media attention has been given to unschooling in particular. Popular critics of unschooling tend to view it as an extreme educational philosophy, with concerns that unschooled children lack the social skills, structure, and motivation of their peers, especially in the job market, while proponents of unschooling say exactly the opposite is true: self-directed education in a natural environment makes a child more equipped to handle the “real world.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unschooling

      Reply
  15. pilgrimsinthisworld

    http://nheri.org/research/nheri-news/nationwide-study-finds-high-academic-achievement-by-the-homeschooled.html Research published in peer reviewed journals..he’s done research since the eighties. . also I am not an unschooler, but I like John Holt’s writing. And I’m afraid yes Bruce.. you are a black and white fundie on whichever extreme side of the road that you are on, but you are adorable. :)

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Yes, and Ray is a shill for the home schooling movement. The issues I raised in my previous comment apply here too.

      I see you have stopped addressing the issues I have raised.

      You are certainly entitled to your opinion about me. People are free to be ill-informed and ignorant, but I wish you would focus on the issues I raised in the post and subsequent comments.

      BTW, on this issue, the extreme side of the road, your words, is where most Americans are. Ask a person, do you think a parent should be able to teach their child at home without any training, testing, or government oversight, most Americans would say no. (including many Christians) Most people have little to no understanding of the home school movement and this is how home schoolers want it. Thanks to sites like Homeschoolers Anonymous http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/ and No Longer Qivering http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering people are starting to see what goes on behind the scenes.

      I will not address further your personal assessments of me. Address the issues and I will respond.

      Reply

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