Why We Should Get Rid of Christian Schools

I bumped into an old friend on the train on Monday.

He is a teacher in the government system and loves his work. I was also a teacher in the government system for quite a while and had a hoot. I loved the rough and ready nature of things and the earthy conversation in the staff room. I have also taught in a Christian school and while I found the people top quality, the ethos (of ‘no non-Christians’ allowed) had me seething. I describe that as the year I was a ‘teaching whore’ – only in it for the money and hated how dirty it made me feel…

Anyway… rant over… My friend was expressing his concern at the development of Christian schools and the significant impact it was having on the rest of the education system.

Basically the issue is that Christian schools are leeching all of the Christian teachers out of the state system and using them to staff their own ventures.

He is concerned that there are precious few Christians left in the state system. In fact he told me that his principal download bonneville dvd (not a Christian) is very worried at this trend and has expressed concern at the change in ethos in state schools as the Christian teachers have gone.

It began to dawn on me that unless a Christian teacher holds the strong conviction that we must remain in the state system it is almost inevitable that they will be lured into their own system.

Here’s the problem:

– There is a finite number of teachers in WA and a much smaller finite number of teachers who would call themselves Christian

– Christian schools must be staffed by card carrying Christians

– Christian schools are on the grow

– The government system is not very appealing in many places.

As Christian schools grow, if they wish to remain true to their ethos of staffing with only Christians, then sooner or later they will need to recruit from the government system. (Or they can compromise and staff with non-Christians)

Sooner or later if the $$$ are right and the working conditions are better than in state schools, it won’t be long before very few Christians are left in the government system.

I dunno about you, but I see this as a huge issue and one to get concerned about…

Your thoughts?…

51 thoughts on “Why We Should Get Rid of Christian Schools

  1. Hamo – I agree. On a similiar theme – one day at the Bridge during the open prayer, we were asked to uphold the Australian Christian Democratics in prayer before the comming elections (I saw this as a plug), I said, who we really should be praying for are the Christians who choose to remain within the main political parties that they may be changed agents for God.

    This is why I support Christian teachers in Public Schools because it is here they can be change agents for God, not only creating change in the system but being change agents in the lives of those they teach.

    I am concerned.

  2. Things must be different in Oz that your Christian schools are full of Christians. We find quite the opposite trend here in South Africa – our Christian schools tend to fill up with non-Christians. The state of our education in SA is sometimes appaling and so some of us believe we can start schools that operate from a Christian worldview and because of the quality of the education many non-Christians are attracted. Are we buying back into Christendom? I don’t think so becuase the reasons and attitudes for starting the schools are different – we’re not trying to ‘protect the flock’ as such – we’re more interested in providing good education and through doing so be signposts to the new creation – the current SA curriculum prohibits us from providing that quality education. Obviously it doesn’t prohibit us from being signposts but in a Christian school we can do both.

    I used to be very anti-Christian schools and anything the reeked of Christendom (like you I’ve always thought we should be out there serving in the public sphere) but through conversations with some friends who are doing post graduate work in Christian education I’ve had my mind changed because I think the entire school can move out there into the public sphere. Anyway – just my thoughts.

  3. I’m a Head Teacher in a Government High School and I absolutely refuse to even consider working in a ‘Christian’ School. I agree with the above but also am disgusted by the fact that Christian Schools have allowed themselves to be used by successive governments to marginalise and defund Govenment Schools. In a nut shell we are fast moving towards a system in Australia where the majority of schools are private-run, user-pays schools serving narrower and narrower homogeneous groups. At the same time public education is being run-down and reduced to a small welfare education system for those who can’t afford to pay for anything better. This is in the context of a looming global teacher shortage meaning public schools will be the hardest to staff.

    Supporters of private schools like to talk about values but what about the values of inclusion, understanding, multiculturalism and equality. These are the values of public education.

    Finally Christian teachers need to ask themselves: “What school would Jesus teach in?”

    If they honestly answer: “A Christian school” then good luck to them but I think they are following a different Jesus to the one I am.

  4. I agree Hamo, but at the average Christian school how many students are Christians.

    Wouldn’t it be great if “Christian Schools” could be set up to cater for the poorer areas of a city and offering free education for those on limited incomes?

  5. Interesting debate Hamo. By Christian, do you mean closed enrolment schools like parent controlled Christian schools or all of them?

  6. Ok – I used to believe that schools of the ilk of the Baptist Colleges were a good idea – because they obviously do pull a lot of students from a non-Christian background and there is influence there.

    However that conversation on Monday really stirred me to think on this one and I am no longer convinced that we should go this route.

    Until this week I probably would have happily taught in one of those schools.

    But the sheer fact that their livelihood depends on recruiting Christian teachers really disturbs me.

    Every teacher they recruit is one less in the state system.

    As they grow – and can potentially offer higher rates of pay and better working conditions – I can see very few Christian staff being left in the state system.

    That means the vast bulk of our society’s education system is left without a Christian influence.

    Surely this ought to disturb missional Christians?

    The other thing that will happen is that eventually Christian schools will run out of Christian teachers to recruit and will then begin employing non-Christians. Or at some point the question will be whether to employ the average ability ‘Christian teacher’ or the top quality ‘non-Christian teacher’.

    Maintenance of high educational standards has a huge influence on choice of staff and already some local Christian schools (prob best I don’t name them) have chosen to go this route.

    But plain and simple my concern is the longer term impact of this approach.

    I realise this is a controversial subject, but let’s discuss it and hear some points of view!

  7. I’m with you, Hamo.

    Looking at it from a different angle, our children are currently in a small Church of England primary school. It was the school with places when we needed them – not so much our choice as God’s, I think. For a lot of reasons it is a great school for our particular circumstances – at the other local school Susannah would be about to move from infant to junior school, having moved from Sheffield last year and moving again to curacy next year. This gives her a lot more stability. But it is such a sheltered environment that I couldn’t have chosen it for all 7 years of primary education. I want my children to learn early that we think differently about a lot of things from most people in our society. If they’re presented with a cosy ‘Christian norm’ when will they learn to be salt and light?

  8. hey mate,

    I had spent some time shaping a comment, but chose to delete it.

    The fact is I send my kids to our local baptist college (K-12) – it fits with our desire to live geographically local (1km from home), build and maintain long term christian and non-christian relationships, both with students (our kids’ friends) and their parents and teachers.

    I can theorise why we shouldn’t do such a thing – and a lot of it runs in line with your long term education system arguments. I have also first hand experience of our local available options, having worked extensively in two of our local state high schools, and continue to work in one of our local state primary schools.

    However, we made decisions that we felt were the best for our kids and their future. Narrow minded? maybe. Selfish? probably. Anti-missional? definitely not.

    9 years ago we chose to adopt this baptist school community as our central site for education and relationships for the next 16 years. We have questioned this decision time and time again, but we are simply unwilling to make the choice to pull them out and start again somewhere else. There I said it… we are “UNWILLING” to change. No theorising, no theologising, no excuses. sorry. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. The Govt system is suffering a hammering at the moment. The Govt will not meet teacher’s requests for better working standards and ‘good will’ is quickly going out the window. I have always committed to remaining in the Govt system as a Christian and open advocate for Christ. It is a challenge every day (rewarding lots of the time) but I always ask is this where Jesus wants me? HE gives me the fire to go another day. The opportunities to share my faith, values and beliefs on a daily basis is exciting and also challenging. I am taking a group of 14 kids to Canberra tomorrow, with the chaplain, for a week. What an opportunity! Hamo is right though, the money will get better and the working conditions more attractive in the private system. Otherendup is also right in that we have the right to make our own choices. I hope my kids get the chance to have committed Christian teachers influence their lives at school (Govt) in the long run. (bit of a rambleโ€ฆโ€ฆ)

  10. It is with some trepidation and anxiety that I say that this time, you’re wrong.

    10 years ago, I’d have agreed with you.

    Both Mrs Toddy & myself were both involved in teaching in a local Christian school, and decided that we could not send our kids to something so insuler and closed.

    However – we then had children who arrived at school age, and had a look at what local govvy schools were teaching.

    We weren’t impressed.

    We were presented with a local Christian school with open enrolment, and dived in head first.

    No regrets.

    I wasn’t prepared to subject my kids to secular teaching based on ‘we think it’s a good idea cos it works’ when there was a good alternative.

    I like that my kids are learning that good behaviour has a basis in biblical principle from staff who practice it in a fervent fashion.

    I like that non-churched based kids (and their parents) are also being exposed to something that is overtly Christian, rather than just overtly religious. It’s good for my kids to see how mission, evangelism, grace and good manners can work within the school that they attend.

    I’m glad that some Christian teachers remain in the govvy sector. However, I certainly wasn’t aware of being shown ‘light’ by any teachers that I studied under. So I therefore doubt what impact the majority of these teachers can have.

    I’m glad that some (as mentioned) have a positive influence. That’s good, but I don’t assume for a minute that every Christian teacher in a govvy school is doing anything except doing a job they feel passionate about.

    As far as pay/conditions go, I’d love to see a govvy system where the pay/conditions are so good, that Christian teachers only leave because they see a missional opportunity within a Christian school.

    HOWEVER – talk about their ‘non-mission-ness’ is unfairly directed, when the system they are leaving is not prepared to support them.

    As a parent of kids going to a Christian school, I only know that it would not be fair to subject my kids to values I abhor just to appease my own sense of mission. If I feel so strongly about it, then I should live it in my life, not make my kids live it for me.

    Christian schools can (not always, granted) offer a sanctuary where learning can happen in a value-context that supports their education. My kids will be exposed to enough ‘rough & tumble’ in other aspects of their lives in the ‘now’ (neighbours, sport, activities) as well as into the future.

    I dare you to write a follow up called ‘why govvy schools should be dismantled, and the money given to open-enrolment Christian Schools’.


    The smiley face is to show that I care!

  11. Ah….

    As some of you probably know by now, when it comes to some topics I would rather write a polemical post than a conciliatory one.

    It tends to get people thinking and responding a little more than a gentle reflection.

    So, at the risk of sounding like I am backtracking I do realise the issue is way more complex than I have just made it sound ๐Ÿ™‚ (smiley face so you know I am enjoying reading your strong responses) and I totally appreciate that good Christians will make a variety of well reasoned our choices on these issues.

    Where it gets tricky for me is that I want my kids to have a great education and would consider Quinns Baptist if our local school was dodgy.

    But I also believe we very much need Christian teachers in the govo system (Goodonya Ash & Ben) so I am faced with a dilemma.

    If I send my kids to a Christian school for a better education I perpetuate the leeching of Christian teachers from the govo system.

    If I send my kids to a govo school on principle then I may risk them getting a dodgy education because of that conviction.

    So – yes it is way more complicated than I made it sound – I knew that – but its more fun this way ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Teachers should be excellent educators regardless of their spiritual convictions. Whether they are christian or not should have no bearing on whether they teach well.

    A christian teacher has no right or responsibility in a secular school to profess their beliefs, therefore, all they can be asked to do is… teach. But, at its core, being a christian teacher does not mean anything more than they were able to get at least 51% in exams and prac’s consistently over 4 years of tertiary study.

    The issue is the state of our government school system and what needs to be done to ensure it is a site for consistently excellent education. When NON-christian school teachers are leaving the state system in droves, the solution is not to shut christian schools to force their teachers into the only remaining system – that is flawed, linear thinking.

    Schools are supposed to be safe and effective places for our kids to learn and enjoy themselves while they are at it. Teachers are supposed to be trained, resourced and supported so they can pursue what they are hopefully passionate about, ie, teaching. If that is not being done, then all of us should be lobbying for the repair of that system as a matter of justice for all children, because I think we all agree that a basic level of excellent education should be available and accessible for all children.

    Then teachers and parents alike should be given the right to choose where they want to teach and send their kids for schooling – knowing that either way, kids will be both safe and educated well. This choice should have no bearing on whether either system is excellent in what they claim to do be there for… educate.

  13. If the light is bright then I expect that the Christian teacher will be asked questions that allow a response. I agree that we have no right to push our values but I do believe we have a responsibility under our beliefs to share our faith where ever we get the opportunity.

    Being employed at a Christian school by no means will ensure that the teacher is a Christian. A note from a pastor or the right answer to the question is all that is needed.

    With my own kids starting schooling I have the same issues as other parents, I want the best for my kids. At the moment that is the govvy school. In the future I know I will be faced with a choice, I know what choice I want to make now but when it comes I don’t know what I will do.

    I do believe that the whole school system at the moment is faced with many challenges. A fact to be aware of is that both Federal and State governments know that it is a lot cheaper for them to have kids in private schools. The cynics might even believe that they are allowing the govvy system to falter to push more kids the private route?

    Otherendup is right in that we need to be telling our pollies that they need to ensure that we have an education system that gives our kids the best possible opportunities.

  14. I have the same issue with Christian bookstores. As fewer and fewer Christians buy Christian books in secular bookstores the market collapses. The only thing left is ultra-liberal stuff like Spong. No where are non-Christians going to be exposed to Christian books?

  15. Being Christian is not an end all do all state of existence….like Paul I try to do what is right and end up doing what is wrong most of the time…because we make an effort to do what is right we enter into partnership with God. But, that does not mean that we always make the right decisions. All of creation (Christian and non-Christian)factors into God’s plan. The striving will take place in all schools (Christian and non) and in all nations (Christian and non) but the bottom line remains with free will and free choice. My question is this….where is the choice if the good is not available to all? And if it is not available to all, where do our individual responsibilities lie in regard to those that do not have the opportunity to choose? I must echo otherendup – it is an individual personal choice for the parents and the teachers. Because I have the freedom to choose, I want others to have the freedom to choose.

  16. How much can a Christian teacher say about their faith in a government school? nothing.

    How much can a Christian teacher say in a Baptist college which has as part of its policy that 5% of the students shall come from churched familes? Heaps…..

    Having said that….we happily send our kids to the local gov school because we want to make relationships with local parents…..as long as the gov school is a good one…

  17. I see a number of issues here.

    We send our kids to a govvy school, and have been happy up until this year when our eldest hit a dud teacher and has gone from loving school to hating it. Partly an age thing, but we are pretty certain the teaching has a lot to do with it. He’s asking if he can go to a Christian high school in a couple of years. We’re considering it.

    But, we also know you get the odd dodgy teacher in the private sector as well. I know a number of people who are disillusioned with one or our local Christian schools, some have pulled their kids out (into other private schools!).

    One of my other concerns is: are we preparing our kids for life in a post-Christian environment? If you’re part of a closed enrolment school, your kids are highly protected from negative influences. Even in an open enrolment setting there’s still a lot of support from the ‘system’. It’s a jungle out there – especially uni. In the cocoon of church, Christian schooling and Saturday soccer, how well prepared are they for life as part of a religious minority?

    OTOH (again), open enrolment schools have some fantastic opportunities to minister to families. One of our local Christian schools has some great plans for supporting families in crisis using the resources of the Christian community.

    Better leave it there, I think.

    Good post, Hamo.

  18. A common theme running through this discussion is the desire to send kids to a “good” school.

    What is a good school?

    I don’t have children so my views are skewed, but isn’t this a form of consumerism? Isn’t the thinking along the lines of “If my kids go to a “better” school then they’ll turn out better?”

    It’s still part of the upward desires we have for our lives.

    It seems like there is a widening gap between well-resourced schools and others.

    But surely even our worst schools are better than the majority of schools in countries with a much lower socio-economic worth?

  19. Hi Hamo – interesting debate and one I have argued for some time (along the lines of your post). I do feel something of a hypocrite as I am speaking at a Christian schools conference this coming Monday – and for money! One of the things I want to point out to the teachers and staff in my talk is that with the increase in immorality in our culture – and the way it brazenly presents itself in overtly sexualised, lippy and self-centred teens in a classroom – we run the risk of chasing after immorality with morality. It’s as if we think we can offer values as an antidote to the problem. The primary gift I believe a Christian school can offer is a believing community of teachers who demonstrate in their lives together what God’s community looks like through their evident love, forgiveness and other-person-centredness. And that’s a tall ask for people who struggle to do that very same thing in their church community. Of course a braver thing to do would be to gather a group of Christian teachers and commit to finding jobs in one particular Govt school in order to demonstrate to a watching world that same community. Perhaps more Christian teachers would stay in Govt schools if they felt like a “Band of Brothers” rather than isolated individuals trying to cope with a rowdy playground and a cynical, angry staff room

  20. What is a good school? Are you kidding?

    This is not consumeristic in terms of ‘buying’ an education, it’s along the same lines as innoculating my kids against diseases.

    It’s the same as ensuring that their diet is the best it can be.

    Could it be consumeritic? Possibly… but I think you’d have to see people experience failure at a school and immediately change because ‘it didn’t work’.

    My kids ‘turning out better’? Better than they could, or better than your kids? 2 different things.

    I hope that my kids turn out better than me. That’s not because I am/was bad, but because that is the role of a parent – to see their children do better than they did (regardless of how well they did) to ensure overall improvement for the future… to demonstrate humility, support and love, to give my kids every opportunity to be everything that God has designed them to be.

    If my kids aren’t doing better in terms of spiritual understanding, educational goals, emotional understanding etc, then I’ve simply made a copy of myself. Far too easy then to always tell my kids that they’ll ‘never measure uup to their old man’. When my kids are 12, they should be doing better than I was when I was 12.

    I will consider myself to have failed if they are the same or worse, so long as there are no external factors contributing to this.

    So – are far as which school to send them to, I’ll reiterate my previous point – The education they receive should be truth, and delivered in a way that is principle based, so that their education is rounded, not simply linear.

    The environment should build up encouragement, that my kids learn to give and to receive encouragement. It should build humility, an ethic as to the nature and type of work done, and should be (as much as possible) espouse similar values to those we teach at home, so that there is consistency within their lives.

    If you find those things in a govvy school, then it’s an easy choice to send kids there.

    If there is a Christian school that does these things better, then it makes sense to send kids there, so that they are educated in the best possible environment.

    There are Christian schools that I would not let my kids near. These are those that are either closed (gives me a headache!) or so open that their brains are prone to falling out.

    Parent run schools are dumb. That’s like parent run hospitals.

    Doctors should run hospitals.

    Educators should run schools.

    We found a Christian school that ticks a bunch of right boxes, where we look at what is happening from a K-12 level, and are confident that our kids will do well there, and come out ready to face the real world.

    End of this morning’s rant.

    New rant coming this arvo (I’ve got a couple of days off!)

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  22. Gareth…..I am sure you are at least partly aware of this…but when you have kids, this overwhelming sense of love and protection comes over you….it is not something I have ever experienced before.

    Truth is…some government schools are crap…they have a stupid dumb pathetic system whereby principals have all the responsibility, and very little of the authority. What is more they move them on for no apparent reason other than beauracracy. My friend pulled his friends out of a government school despite the fact they had and were utilising awesome missional opportunities there because the school had 6 different principals in 3 years….this year they had a good one who was starting to make things better…but because she was only interim, after 6 months she got yanked away because she did not have the right piece of paper….ridiculous beauracracy.

    at the end of the day, we can speak about this issue, but most parents will care for their kid education as best as they can, and that is not consumerism…that is inbuilt love.

    Ashley…that is awesome, sending up a prayer for you right now.

  23. I agree for the most part. I think my prayer would be for God to raise up teachers whose hearts burned to see the next generation in their local schools find Christ.

    From a parental point of view, my son is not / was not mature enough to deal with the public classroom situation, especially when you add a hard-of-hearing disability. And we couldn’t afford a Christian school. SO.

    We home school. Its the best option for us. We have to be more deliberate in our building of relationships outside the Christian community. But he is getting a wonderful education, with lots of play / creative time as young children should. And he has been exposed to plenty of world views. More than I thought I’d ever expose him to at this age. And yet, that’s what God has brought across our path! ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus, now we have time to build relationships because we aren’t tied up with endless school hours and activities! And we house church, so there aren’t endless church activities.

  24. Agree – this is an issue where I am happy to hold an ideal view (Christians in the govo system) but I will happily compromise it if I feel my kids are in need of a better education – whatever formt hat takes.

    Mark E is right – we parents will turn ourselves inside out to try and do the best for our kids.

    So sometimes the stuff we think might be great gets left as we pursue the pragmatics of life in the real world.

    All that said I really wonder how the world would be if we injected all those Christian teachers back into the govo system

  25. Hamo, hardly as though you don’t know this, I’ll bite and have a go at answering your question.

    I reckon that some Christians with teaching degrees have adventurous, missional spirits. They love the govvy system, because it is everything that they love.

    Other Christians have more pastoral or nurturing hearts, and love the teaching freedoms provided under the banner of a Christian school.

    Horses for courses.

    But – there are also Christian parents of kids who fit into both catagories as well.

    Again – horses for courses.

    I haven’t seen the ‘why govvy schools should be dismantled, and the money given to open-enrolment Christian Schoolsโ€™ thread yet…


  26. Why would a Christian teacher want to go to a Christian school? The greatest mission field has to be the government school system. I think we can make a positive impact in the public schools.

  27. I reckon for a number of Christian teachers it is best for us all if they remain in the Christian School system – the behaviour I have seen modeled by some is very embarrassing.

    A Christian teacher does not always equal a good teacher.

    A good thing we did was – withdraw our children from a Christian School and put them back into the Public System – where there was more to education than just chew and spew, catechism, recorder lessons, Bible Stories and songs from The Kid’s Praise Albums.

  28. I agree. I don’t have fight to pick with Christian teachers leaving the gov. system. I WOULD focus my attention on Christian parents taking their kids out of gov. schools.

    In many cases, we are leaving our less affluent children in schools that don’t educate effectively while we pull our own children “out of the fire”. Its a shame that we don’t invest the time we spend volunteering at private schools and homeschooling into the public school systems. THAT is the missional opportunity we are walking away from.

  29. For thought:-

    What about the non christian family who has had a gutfull of a public system that has not met the needs of their kids. They too want the best for their kids and will as we do bend over backwards for them to get a better opportunity than they had.

    A Christian school that is set up with missional values and open entry is no different than your missional communities that build bridges to the community.

    Also if these schools are educating students to reach their potential surely there is some sustainability in providing teachers out of the gradate pool of those student who do become

  30. opps. my granddaughter decided to help me type.

    as I was saying

    Also if these schools are educating students to reach their potential surely there is some sustainability in providing teachers out of the gradate pool of those student who do become christians as some of the Baptist Colleges are already experiencing.

    Regards Ashley’s comment “Being employed at a Christian school by no means will ensure that the teacher is a Christian. A note from a pastor or the right answer to the question is all that is needed.” I hope you would have some faith in those who employ these teachers to vet them not only on their teaching credentials but also on their faith walk. Using this argument the teaching credentials would be in as much doubt as the faith issue.

  31. Mark R – you’re talking about the same Christian School that 10yrs ago, I decided I would NOT send my kids to.

    There’s Christian schools and then there are Christian schools. Some good, some bad, some good at doing what I don’t want them to do but others are happy with..etc etc etc.

    Chad – you’re saying that you want to pick a fight with me for not having my kids in a govt school system that is (in many cases) anathema to what I believe education should be about?

    Bring it, son!

    (no more Mr Smiley Face!)

  32. Toddy – trouble with living in a small town, eh?

    I agree with your comments, I withdraw from this debate … I have no truck with you and the decisions you have made your conscience has not be violated and this is good.

    PS – we all still miss you!!!

  33. I’ve no interest in people withdrawing from the debate… what I DO have an interest in is people recognising the strength in diversity – diversity of parents, diversity in the strength/capacity of kids, of schools and of those who choose to teach.

    Hamo raised a polemic argument. My concern is that people immediately dived in and said that it’s either all about Christian schools, or all about govy schools, and the ‘other’ was ‘wrong’.

    Something I have tried to advocate from the get-go is whilst not all govy schools are bad, neither are all Christian schools full of ultra-right, fundo nut-jobs who believe in flat-earth theory.

    PS – I miss you too, snookems.

    Oh and I’m still looking forward to a small stoush from Chad, all in the fullness of time!


    (quick smiley face cos Mark R misses me)

  34. Whilst I was still at Uni I made a commitment to myself (&maybe to God) that I would spend my teaching career in Public schools. Much of this career thus far has been spent in rural and remote schools and district offices. Without exception (in my experience) in every location I have come across a small group of committed Christian teachers who shared the same vision, to be the salt of the earth, amongst the salt of the earth. I even met my wife in a remote school in WA’s north ๐Ÿ™‚

    In addition I have always come across a group of Christian families who have chosen (whether that choice is dictated by finances or location?) to attend public schools and are very grateful for our presence there, almost as a potential safeguard for their children against some of the often quoted evils of public education.

    I (and only I, not casting any negatives on anyone else)was called to be in the world and therefore continue to serve in public education by choice. Selecting opportunities where I can have as great an influence as I can on as many students as I can (hence stints in administration, district and head offices).

    Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people talks about circles of influence and circles of concern and how by increasing your circle of influence your circle of concern becomes more manageable. My circle of concern is for the kids, therefore the way I can have the greatest influence in in Public schools!

    Does this have a word limit??

    As I have mostly worked in small country towns, every students knows everything about you, they see what you do and where you go and that you go the Church and expect certain things from you, they ask questions and see things that they may not see if Christians didn’t go to these remote and rural towns.

    So, I would actively encourage young teachers to head out into rural and remote WA and have the greatest influence you can!

    good discussion Hamo

  35. Just in regard to Davids commment re Christians schools. I know of teachers who have googled christian responses to get a job at a Christian school, and attended a church for a month or two, to get a job in a christian school. And succesfully fooled all involved. Its not that hard, especially with Christian schools desperate for teachers.

  36. Mark E that maybe the case but I have been involved in interviews where equal time is given to educational as well as faith. The answers would not be easy to fake as there is no warning . The teachers are then on a probationary period before permanency is given so they would then be under observation fairly closely.

    Yes all the teachers are at different stages of their faith walk. As staff work closely with each other there is also discipleship being undertaken as within any christian community.

  37. when i graduated from uni i got one job offer in a state school in carnarvon and one job offer at a private christian school 5 mins from home. i love hanging out with my family and friends and chose the private school. i would love to work in a state school (coz i get a bit sick of all the right wing fundamentalism) but am not willing to go country (at the moment).

    and on another note, people seem to be under the illusion that private schools are richer than state?? the average private school has less money to spend per child than a state school ( ie, in a private school parent fees plus government funding per child adds up to less than what gets spent on each child in a state school). so it’s a myth that private schools are better resourced (except those super high priced fancy schools).

    the only reason why private schools are better has actually nothing to do with the schools themselves. as said, christian teachers are no better than non-christian teachers, and private schools are certainly not better resourced financially than govies. the thing that makes the difference in private school is the group of kids you start of with, and more specificallly their parents. in private schools you have a bunch of kids whose parents were willing to fork out cash for education. in other words, the familys value education and are willing to sacrifice for it.

  38. I have seen the maths that Charlie refers to (above) regarding fees and she is right from what I could see on this spread sheet.

    I like Otherendup, have chosen to send my kids to a private school, a baptist college. It is the closest school to our front door that offers K-12. We could have done the the primary school down the road and then the private school for high, but we wanted to establish some long term relationships and we believe strong in being local. The cost issue is constantly a factor for me, but the whole Christians not being in the public sector is not a major one for me. It is more for my wife who became a teacher with a desire, heart and intention to teach in the public sector with less privileged kids, and she does this well! I do pray we have more people like her and Ashley (above) in th epublic sector. One of our kids was the only girl from a ‘Christian’ family in her whole class. This is a mission field for parents and staff alike. I wonder if they also had an ‘open’ employment policy and employed non-Christian teaching staff how that would look?

    Anyway, I do struggle with the same thing Charlie mentioned, the kind of conservative fundo, “Veggie Tale” theology that I feel emanates. But is this better or worse than nothing at all? Not sure. I do keep getting reminded that I am primarily responsible for my kids discipleship, not the school or the church. I struggle also with a kind of exclusive middle class (even upper middle) feel about the place. No one with any less money than I earn (OK – Otherendup might squeeze in!) would be able to get into the school and I am well off in many respects! So we create a missional school for rich kids with a classic middle class, right wing, conservative theological feel and you have…a need for some hard core ‘different’ type teachers to be in there as radical disciples stirring the pot a little! (Not that pot! They don’t have any of that at Christian schools…what? They do? )

  39. As I re-read the posts, I wonder if some have made the classic error of assuming that all public schools are the same, or that the local christian school is the same as the CS in the next suburb.

    Whenever we make that kind of assumption, our generalisations will always bite us on the proverbial, because we are using generalisations about specifics (kinda ironic, but typical!)

    People are different.

    Schools are different.

    Hairstyles are different.

    Interest rates fluctuate…

    My earlier ‘boxing glove’ approach was because I felt as though I (ok, people like me) was being judged based on the experiences of people who live a long way away from me. I will always take a boxing glove approach to that!

    So – if ‘you’ stop suggesting that ‘I’m’ non-missional and non-evangelistic because I choose to protect my kids from the kind of detrimental crap that I was exposed to, then ‘I’ll’ stop calling ‘you’ names behind your back.


    (Smiley face because it’s Monday)

  40. I have been genuinely surprised at how complex this issue is.

    i guess one thing it serves to highlight is that even though we chew these things thru and make carefully reasoned decisions we don’t always finish up in the same place.

  41. I guess I’m not surprised, but only because I’ve had a fair bit to do with 2 CS (both in the same ‘family’ of schools) that are quite different in the way in which they operate.

    Also, being part of a church that supports a CS, we have those who are radically for it, and those who are radically against, mostly for reasons that have been listed in these posts.

    Something that the Forge/Reimagine stuff is reinforcing is that different people will come to different decisions based on the same info, because of the way that they are wired, and because we serve a God who calls for obedience, not conformity.

    Having said that, it’s been fun!


    (Smiley face to prove that I’m still having fun!)

  42. Your title for this blog ” why we shud get rid of christian schools ” is a bit rash dont u think.

    I know of several christian teachers in our church who have always taught in gov schools and as far as I know have no desire to move to christian schools. What exactly are the stats on this issue, roughly how many teachers are being “leeched” from gov schools .

    I am not implying what you are saying may not have some truth to it , but you heard this from one man and it sounds like your ready to shut down all the christian schools in Perth and force all those money hungry christians who just want a nice cushy job into the government education system.

    Also your comment about christian teachers “being lured into their own system” that sounds really off. I love reading your blogs Hamo , and most of the time you have great things to say , but sometimes I cant help but feel that you just want to beat up on the church. I know how that feels as I sometimes feel the same way, but now that you are aware of this major crisis in our education system , I would be interested to know what you are going to do about it?

  43. Another question on the back of some of Lesley’s…

    If Christian teachers are being lured from govvy schools to Christian schools, where are non-christian teachers being leached to?

    I’ll give you a tip – they are no longer involved in education at all!

    They are driving trucks, or drilling holes in the ground.

  44. Hi Lesley – Yes it was a very brazen statement!

    It was intentional to provoke discussion.

    I wasn’t unaware of its implications, but the more I have chewed on it over the last few days it has developed into an even more complicated issue.

    Did you read all of the comments? You may have seen my other thoughts in them.

    I’m not at all up for beating up the church. Honestly that’s way too easy – no mater what form of church you are in. I think that’d be on a par with bullying!

    But I do intentionally seek to provoke conversation and discussion among people and sometimes the best way to do that is a rash statement which has some element of truth ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hope that makes sense.

  45. I’m having problems trying to understand why we can’t figure out how to feed all the hungry children in the world!

  46. I have been away cooking on a Performing Arts camp so I have missed this post and discussion and have come in pretty late.

    I wrote a paper to the leadership group of SU in 2002 regarding the exit of Christians from the government school system. I tackled the issue from 2 directions. The first was the rise of the Christian school and the mass exodus of Christian teachers. The second was the rise of Chaplaincy and the exodus of Christian volunteers from their local schools as Chaplains became the professional on site Christian.

    I guess my main comment is the horse bolted on this one years ago. Both Christian schools and Chaplaincy are now well established as the main stays of Christian presence through education in WA.

    So I think that at this time we need to focus on helping Christian schools and their teachers develop their missional passions and skill set so that they don’t institutionalize Christianity in their schools.

    Chaplains need the support of Christians offering themselves as volunteers to supplement their role in the schools. It is a great way to partner with the chaplain and serve a school.

    And for those who choose the government system well then I think we should be doing more. They need encouragement to be seen as the champions that they are to serve in a system that is at best difficult and under resourced. Maybe even forums or groups to discuss what the kingdom of God might look like in a government school in 2008. Prayer as well that Christian teachers in schools will not be called away to somewhere else.

    For those parents who have children at a government school are we looking for partners in ministry Luke 10 style. They can be hard to find sometimes in the government school system.

    So I would advocate a move forward approach on this one

  47. Very late to this fascinating and nuanced discussion so I’ll keep my comments brief>

    I certainly see Hamo’s point about Christian schools draining whatever remaining Christian influence there is away from Government schools but I would concur with the comments someone (?Toddy) made above that in general Christian teachers’ hands are tied as to how much they can express their faith anyway (at least to their students – one could argue that Christian teachers could have a positive witness to other teachers perhaps..)

    From my experience as a student in a state high school there was only one teacher who was overtly “Christian” – and everyone thought he was a bit of a freak. In fact in his attempts to disciple a friend of mine who had recently converted he only ended up confusing the poor kid more.

    The current experience of Christian influence in state schools in my area is somewhat different. Rather than relying on Christian teachers to provide this influence, our church sends in a number of “kids coaches” to provide pastoral care at several of the local primary and high schools. This has had a big impact on many students and in fact other schools are begging for our church to provide the same to them.

    My personal choice for my children is to send them to our local Baptist church affiliated Christian college. Like others above I admit this is a bit of a selfish decision but I simply want them to have the best education, peer relationships and pastoral care possible. I am a little concerned about some of the fundamentalist doctrine that comes home in my grade 2 son’s mind (young earth creation ‘science’ already and some interesting eschatology) but it’s nothing that I can’t counter and I must say overall the benefits to his 7 year old faith have been vastly positive.

    Although Hamo is being intentionally polemical here I agree with others that this is a very complex issue with many valid opinions on both sides of the issue. Good post and discussion!

  48. I really like Toddy’s “horses for courses” take on things.

    Now, please don’t think I’m a post-mod. sort of “what’s right for you is right for you, etc.” person. I’m emphatically not.

    What I am, is a Christian who has come to appreciate the wider body of Christ, and the way our different bents/ passions/ ‘modus operandi’ can all work together for the wider good, the ‘bigger picture’.

    Hence Toddy’s take on things, viz. that Christian teachers in Gov. schools have as valid a role in God’s eyes as Christian teachers in Christian schools, is a gem. For the good of his Gospel, why could not God see fit to use both ‘types’ (and there are prob. a lot of ones inbetween, of course) of teacher?

    So maybe it’s a case of not so much debating over which is ‘best’, but rather when one or the other is best.

    My dilemma as a Christian dad, and also as a pastor, has been to do with the good and growth of my three daughters in all areas, inc. their education. In my wife’s judgement and mine, our eldest daughter has needed the support and quality of education that there is at Somerville Baptist College. Our second daughter has special needs (Down Syndrome) so attends a special ed. unit at one of the local primary school. Our third daughter is so savvy and confident and relationally sharp that she could flourish in either a Christian or Gov. school.

    So, even on the level of the individual child and their abilities, it is a ‘horses for courses’ thing.

    Thanks Toddy!



  49. Hi there.

    Haven’t read all the discussion closely – but as an expat-Brit with a deeply ingrained sense of the importance of State school education, I was horrified when we came to Australia and my husband wanted to send our two girls to a Christian school.

    18 months in, I am fascinated by the impact the school/teaching has on non-Christian parents and families. I have had so many conversations with other parents at all sorts of levels about Christianity as a result of what their kids are hearing/saying from the classroom. Christian schools doesn’t automatically = Christian kids … so the outreach potential is enormous and very natural. Lots of parents have to think quite hard about what their kids are being taught and why … and have lots of questions as a result.

    Maybe you already covered this in earlier discussion — if so please forgive the repeat. But it’s a major topic! While this opportunity doesn’t negate the ‘leeching’ of Christian teachers from the State school system, there are a whole bunch of families out there who are getting very real and natural exposure to Jesus through their kids’ schooling that may not have happened in other ways.

    What do other people think? Fascinated to hear.

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