Classical Christian Schools See Enrollment Explode
By Dan Hart/Washington StandSeptember 12, 2023
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Since the beginning of 2020, when the COVID pandemic caused widespread and lengthy public school shutdowns and vaccine requirements that proved to be immensely controversial, a growing number of parents are removing their students from public schools and enrolling them in private ones.
Among the private schools that have seen substantial growth are classical Christian schools, which focus on instilling students with a biblical worldview through the wisdom and traditions of Western civilization that have been established for centuries.
With 1.2 million students leaving public schools since 2020, many are enrolling in private schools, which have seen enrollment increase by 140,000 students since 2019. As a result, classical Christian schools have seen enrollment mushroom over the last three years.
As David Goodwin, president of the Association of Classical Christian Schools, told guest host Jody Hice during Monday's edition of "Washington Watch," classical education is about getting back to the basic building blocks of education that have already been established for centuries within the church.
"For over a thousand years it was the churches that did the educating," he underscored. "... It's only been the last hundred or 150 years that that's moved away from the churches and into the public school system. So what we're calling for is a form of Christian education called classical Christian education, which seeks to restore that form that was existent before the American public school system developed."
Goodwin further observed that classical education is rooted in the founding of Western civilization and of America.
"It was a form of education developed in the church after the fall of the Roman empire," he explained. "It sustained the church as the primary form of education up until about 1830. It developed most of our Founding Fathers."
Goodwin continued, "It studies what are sometimes called the 'Great Books,' it looks to the wisdom of the past, it studies a lot of theology. The students in our schools often learn Latin and Greek as avenues to the past to be able to read original manuscripts. But it's really for everybody. We've got people from every walk of life. We have inner city schools, schools across the suburbs and in metro areas.
They all have in common a love for the lordship of Jesus Christ and an establishment of the Christian worldview, which is really when you think about it what school does. In the Bible it's called 'paideia,' it's the Greek word. We now call it worldview... That's the primary function of classical Christian schools."
Goodwin went on to illustrate how classical schools are expanding, and encouraged churches to join the growing movement.
"Before 2020, we were seeing 20-30 new schools a year," he noted. At present in the last two years, we have brought in about 200 new schools. ... We would love to have churches across the country join with us in building those schools. We have about 500 right now in our membership. We've been operating for the last 30 years, and the demand is ... going so high at this point that we're dependent on church buildings and church resources to get these schools started."
Goodwin further emphasized that churches should not be intimidated at the prospect of starting a classical school.
"This may seem daunting, but really education has been made a little bit overcomplicated by all the bureaucracy and all the systems that have to be there for things like public schools," he commented. "Really all it takes is a room, a teacher, and some kids. Of course, the teacher has to be gifted at teaching -- it's a spiritual gift.
But don't think too small is too small. Most of our schools start with between three and 12 students the first year. And you can blend classrooms, you can use what are called 'pod schools' where you get a single teacher that teaches across multiple ages. There's a whole lot of ways you can do this."
"My hope and prayer is that parents will -- in this cultural moment where things are so challenging, so many evil things are going on in the public sphere -- it's time for us as Christians to come back to the kingdom, to come back to Christ, to dedicate all of the universe, all of the world to his service and his glory," Goodwin concluded.