I have an unapologetic bias for Adventist Education (Please keep reading:) ). In fact I believe that every Adventist parent should send their children to Adventist school with only a few exceptions: 1.) A child with a learning disability in which the local Adventist school does not have adequate resources to attend to. 2.) A child with a social or mental disability that can cause harm or disruption to other students in the class that again can not be attended to at the local Adventist school. 3.) No Adventist school within reasonable proximity of the family, this is rare for elementary aged kids. 4.) A family cannot financially afford to send their child to an Adventist school. This would be a family that has no cable TV, used cars, no cell phones, and in which the local church provides no financial assistance (in which case I believe the pastor and congregations of said churches will be held accountable by God!). Other than those exceptions if you are Adventist and you have school aged children I believe they should be in Adventist schools (I include home schooling by Adventist parents to be AdEd as well) Why? I’m glad you asked! (Keep reading if for no other reason than to confirm why you believe I am wrong and to tell me so).
The first reason, and reason that supercedes all others, and should be enough for each of us, but usually is not (so I will cover others later) because they teach the things we believe in Biblically! Notice what I did not say, I did not say that they practice everything we believe Biblically! I wish this were true, but I know it is at times not. Someone may ask, “Why would I send my child to a school that doesn’t practice what I believe?” Well if this thought disqualifies an Adventist school than you have already had a jump in logic. Because sending your child to a public school or Christian school that is not Seventh-day Adventist is also a school that doesn’t practice everything you believe, so that disqualifies that argument. But back to my original point, I believe it is imperative for our kids to be in environments where their brains are being engaged with our doctrine and not another doctrine or no doctrine at all. Yes, our schools are not perfect and unfortunately don’t always practice what they preach, but they still are most in line with Biblical truth as we as Seventh-day Adventists understand truth! To understand this concept let us think quickly of the Israel of the Old Testament. Now how often did these people disappoint God? The answer would be, about every other page! Yet how often did God tell the people to forget about Israel, to find someone else, to start a new group that was separate from them? The answer would be, NEVER. Why? Because as wrong as the Israelites were, the reality is that God’s truth and God’s special blessing still resided with those people. If our theology is that we believe the Adventist church has the End Time Message then almost without exception our kids should be in a place where they are regularly engaged in that truth. Another example would be the story of Samuel (I have Kim Thompson to thank for this point): If you read in 1st Samuel the story of when Samuel was sent to the temple for his education as a future prophet for the Lord, you will see that young Samuel was sent to a place that really didn’t represent the Lord. The priest at the time Eli, had two sons that were very poor examples for the Lord. They were bad examples for young Samuel, they did not practice what was preached, and yet, God still had Hannah send Samuel her Son to the temple that was “wicked” but where God still chose to reside with His truth (1 Samuel 1-3). I can hear a parent maybe responding, “Well the non-SDA Christian school is MORE CHRISTIAN than our Adventist school.” Isn’t a statement like this then putting the parent in the position of God deciding what areas of truth are most important and which are not as necessary? Parents we have a responsibility to our kids to teach them continually the truths of God (Deut. 6 & 11 are examples of this reality), if our kids are not with us for 7 or 8 hours a day does this mean we abandon that responsibility during those hours or do we put them in places in which they will still be surrounded by these truths?
Adventist schools teach the things that are most in line with my understanding of Biblical truth, that is enough for me, and I would hope for others based on the above, but if not here are a few other realities about Adventist Education.
Academically Adventist schools are superior: Now I want to just be honest with you, I feel that academic achievement has much more to do with parents than schools. I honestly believe that I could send my children to just about any school and achieve academic success. Studies in fact show this to be true. (For a great analysis of this truth read Malcolm Gladwell’s: Outliers). That said, what role schools do play I want them in a good academic school, it doesn’t have to be the best, because again as a parent I believe Christina and I are the most important factors in the success of our children scholastically, but I still want a good school. So do Adventist schools qualify as good schools? Recently the Christian Science Monitor, a non-Adventist publication published the following article: “For Real Education Reform, Take a Cue From the Adventists” This study actually shows that our holistic approach to Academics: Mind, Body, & Spirit help to bridge the gaps that exist for kids that come from impoverished homes & or communities and schools. More than 50,000 students were observed in this study and here are a couple things they found:
“In each subject category, students attending Adventist schools scored higher than the national average. They also scored higher than their expected achievement based on assessment of individual ability – a factor few other schools measure.”
“One of our most dramatic findings is that students who transferred to Adventist schools saw a marked improvement in academic achievement. The more years a student attended an Adventist school, the more his or her performance improved.”
Both those findings are pretty significant! Here are some hard numbers to put this in concrete terms:
- An 8th grader that is just entering an Adventist school will typically score in the 50th percentile in standardized testing.
- An 8th grader that has attended an Adventist school for 1-2 years will score in the 57th percentile.
- An 8th grader that has attended an Adventist school for 3-6 years will score in the 64th percentile.
- And an 8th grader tha has done all of the previous 7 years in an Adventist school will score in the 73rd percentile.
I can state for a fact that in our little Sierra View Junior Academy here in the Central Valley we find these exact same results. The longer a child has attended Sierra View the higher they score in comparison to the rest of the nation in standardized testing. Right now someone may be saying, “well that wasn’t the case with my child”, or “I know someone who…” Yes, we all know someone who! Remember these are the averages which means that there are children that score above and children that score below.
Here is another interesting thing that studies have found. Children that attend small rural schools with very insignificant budgets and the inability to provide all the bells and whistles for their students still score higher than average students in other schools. In fact,
“students at Adventist schools that spend as little as $2,000 to $4,000 per pupil are roughly at the same achievement level as students in schools that spend as much as $12,000 per student.”
That statistic was shocking to me. Since I at times look at other non-Adventist Christian schools and have envy in my heart over the extra computer labs and study opportunities their kids have that mine may never have. Then I read a stat like that and I realize the extra money doesn’t add up to extra benefit for my child in the long run. Wow! This is good news considering 60% of Adventist schools are considered small schools by government standards.
Adventist schools also pay off for your kids academically in the long run!
- 85% of students that graduate from an Adventist school attend college in comparison to 66% of graduates from public schools.
- 80% of those students will complete their college education and receive a degree. Only 14% of those that attend college of public schools will complete their college degrees.
- 34% of applicants accepted to medical school versus 9%
Adventist Education is not perfect! But I have a 100% bias for Adventist Ed based on my religious convictions, but even without those convictions I believe the statistics back up my bias.
What do you say?