As you navigate the uncertainties of the 2020-21 school year, I’d like to offer some encouragement as we do the demanding work of meeting the needs of our students, families, and communities.
Our work matters: Over the past decade, the Cardus Education Survey has shown the impact that graduates of Protestant schools have as members of churches and society. In broadening their research from North America to Australia, they have continued to find similar results. Likewise, a recent study from the American Enterprise Institute found that Protestant school graduates are more likely to develop stable families. Here is one of their primary conclusions:
The results detailed in this report suggest that boys and girls who attend private schools are more likely to avoid a nonmarital birth and to get and stay married. This pattern is especially pronounced among Protestant-school attendees, which suggests that these schools are more likely to foster a kind of “Protestant Family Ethic” among their students. This is an ethic that seems especially conducive to strong and stable families.
Growth opportunities exist even now: In a recent interview regarding the pandemic and schooling, Lynn Swaner states that over a quarter of ACSI schools have seen enrollment growth while another half of schools have held steady. What we are seeing nationally is that schools who have done some hard work since the Great Recession have placed themselves in a situation to not only weather this storm, but also to thrive and meet new opportunities. One of my challenges to schools growing in this period is to find opportunities to meet the needs of the most at-risk students in their communities.
Adaptive change is preferred to quick fixes. On a weekly basis, a group of 20+ Christian school leaders in California have been meeting since the first week in March to ask questions, share insights, develop community resources, and spur each other onward. In these meetings I have been encouraged and impressed by the professionalism, talent, wisdom, and technical expertise of these school leaders. Professionally, I have learned significant lessons through this collaboration. Personally, I have been encouraged by the work that is happening throughout my state.
As I hear about the technical solutions to meet our current crisis, I do encourage educators to invest most in long-term, adaptable change. Rockford Lutheran in Illinois is just one school looking to the future opportunities to do schooling anew. Executive Director Don Gillingham sums up this opportunity:
We’re not adapting to the virus. We are growing into this change. And one of the things we are doing is changing the ownership of education and giving that to the kids and their families.
We are still here to teach and advise and help our students be successful and get everything they need to get into college, but we are downplaying attendance and enhancing our efforts to support learning in all ways.
We at CACE are honored to walk with you during these challenging times--to change and grow with you.
Senior CACE Fellow