5. My child will have competent teachers and get a good, sound education there.
Adventist teachers have to meet rigorous preparatory standards in subject matter and pedagogy. They also receive instruction in child/youth evangelism. In recognition of this unique role, the Seventh-day Adventist Church commissions its teachers as "Ministers of Education." They are taught to be keenly sensitive to the psychological climate of learning in the classroom, and to help each child learn in his or her own way and pace. Students are gently nudged ahead, building upon their successes while achieving high standards. This is "quality education" in every sense of the term.
The church’s professionals to ensure that it meets or exceeds secular guidelines have carefully engineered the Adventist K-l 2 curriculum. And it incorporates the distinctive goals of Adventist education, foremost among which is preparing young people to perform selfless service for humanity. Today, many secular educators consider the Adventist curriculum a model of wholism and enrichment, and I feel privileged to have my children immersed in it. Adventist K-l2 teachers participate regularly in professional upgrading through denominationally sponsored workshops and in-service education. It's comforting to know that my children's teacher is not preparing them for tomorrow with yesterday's tools.
6. My child will be redemptively disciplined.
It is extremely important to me as a parent to know that when my child slips up (as will happen occasionally), a loving Christian teacher will treat him or her redemptively, not punitively. The teacher will endeavor to get my son or daughter to ponder the questions, "Why did I choose wrongly here? How should I deal with such a situation the next time around? What does this tell me about myself? What principles from God's book will help me profit from this mistake?" That's redemptive discipline. Its God's way, built on agape love.
The Christian teacher returns a discipline mishap into a growth experience, a stepping-stone to better self-understanding and self-management. Christianity of a school than the way it treats students who run afoul of its rules. For this is a modeling of the character of God—-a blending of justice and mercy. Discipline really means "making disciples," and I want my child to attend a school that is doing just that.
7. The campus culture is wholesome.
Let's talk about the popular culture. The influence of media, sex, violent video games, drinking, and partying are swamping schools—from junior high through university level. Conservative Christian parents are desperately looking for a safe, non-toxic place for their children—where innocence and wholesomeness are prized and order prevails. And let's talk about peer pressure. Most concerned parents instinctively understand that students probably learn more from one another about values and lifestyle than from their teachers, and that student leaders have an enormous influence. Granted, not every student in a Christian school is a modem Daniel or an Esther, but the preponderance of young people assembled there is treading the upward path. Among them are conscientious older students who influence and inspire the younger ones. What a priceless asset they are. Yes, campus culture is definitely a significant dimension of curriculum. It really affects young people, so I'm thankful that our schools seek to make it contribute to Christian character development.
When it's all said and done, Adventist schools are all about wisdom (God's wisdom), as opposed to the acquisition of mere human knowledge. That's what I want my children to take away with them. It's what our church family and God want for them, also. The wise man said it well, "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (Proverbs 4:7, KJV). That's the bottom line for Adventist education. It's worth fighting to keep, and worth sacrificing for. It's a gift from heaven that each of our children deserves.
This article originally appeared in/on The Journal of Adventist Education volume 62 on 2010.