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Christian Schools



One could categorize Christian schools into three groups: private sectarian Christian schools affiliated with a particular denomination; private Christian schools that embrace Christianity broadly; and homeschools that reflect the Christian beliefs of their participants. This article provides an overview of Christian schools.


Types of Christian Schools

A number of Christian schools are both affiliated with and funded by a particular Christian denomination. The twenty-five Christian denominations with the most schools in the United States are the following, and they are listed with the percentage of their makeup of the 2500 responding religious schools that serve K-12 in the US, if valid figures were available in the U.S. Department of Education 2003-04 private school survey.

African Methodist Episcopal

Amish

2.6

Assembly of God

1.5

Baptist

7.7

Brethren

0.6

Calvinist

0.6

Christian, non-denominational

12.7

Church of Christ

0.8

Church of God

0.6

Church of God in Christ

Church of the Nazarene

Disciples of Christ

0.1

Episcopal

1.2

Evangelical Lutheran

0.8

Friends

0.4

Greek Orthodox

0.2

Latter Day Saints

Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

3.9

Mennonite

1.6

Methodist

0.6

Other Lutheran

0.2

Pentecostal

1.4

Presbyterian

0.7

Roman Catholic

27.9

Seventh Day Adventist

3.4

Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran

1.3

To put the Christian schools in perspective, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, there were around 97,000 public schools and 35,000 private schools in the US, of which about 23,500 were religiously oriented private schools. Of those, about 8,000 - the largest number of any type of Christian school - were Roman Catholic.

Although we know that there were an estimated 1,096,000 students being homeschooled in the U.S. in 2003, we know less about the particular bent of the homeschools in which they were instructed. This is part and parcel of the fact that they are not part of the education system. We do know, however, that a number of home schools have a Christian orientation, both from the self-reports of homeschooling parents, as well as from reports of the use of Christian texts in homeschool settings.

The Elements of a Christian School

A Christian school may be characterized by a number of factors.

  • It may be directly connected to a particular church, parish, or diocese.
  • It may include opportunities for worship or Christian prayer.
  • Bible reading or study may be among its activities.
  • A specific religion class may be added to the standard offerings of English/Language Arts, Science, Math, Social Studies/History, Science, Arts classes, Physical Education, and Health Education.
  • Acknowledgment of the holidays, rituals, and other elements of Christianity may be incorporated into the school day.
  • The beliefs and moral code of Christianity may be brought to bear on aspects of the curriculum.

Pros and Cons of Christian Schooling

Both private and home-centered Christian schools give students a chance to experience faith and learning in a unified environment. They may not feel that they have to leave their beliefs at the door, as they might in the secular environment of the public schools. Christian schools have a reputation for being safer, more orderly, more disciplined, and for having a higher academic standard than public schools - at least at the elementary and middle school level.

People who argue against Christian schooling point out their reputation for hiring teachers who are not certified, for mixing fact with faith, and for failing to provide students with the tools they need to live in a heterogeneous world - both in terms of belief and in terms of other types of diversity, whether ethnic or cultural.

Sources

National Center for Education Statistics: Search for Private Schools - nces.ed.gov

National Center for Education Statistics: QuickStats - nces.ed.gov

MSN Encarta “Private Elementary and Secondary Schools in the U.S. (Total Number of Schools)” -  encarta.msn.com

National Center for Education Statistics: Numbers and Types of Public Elementary and Secondary Schools From the Common Core of Data: School Year 2006-07 - First Look -  nces.ed.gov