Despite my wishes to the contrary, classical education is not for everybody. Not every student can meet the basic standards of our curriculum, which is why we are sometimes (though very rarely) forced to deny or revoke admission. Colleges and universities – even those that are publicly funded – must make these same kinds of decisions to preserve the integrity of their courses of study.
Likewise, not all parents believe or want their children to learn about our Christian religious beliefs; however, because we’re the only K4-12th grade Christian school in the Gallatin Valley with open enrollment, non-believing families are welcome to enroll with us anyway. Several choose to do so because their kids are challenged to think at a level they had not experienced elsewhere, and they as a family feel cared for by our school staff and administration. From the first conversation with a family, we are clear and up front as to what we teach. Parents don’t have to believe or agree with any of it to enroll their kids at Petra; all we ask is they understand why we teach it and not seek to undermine the fact that we do.
Again, for the reasons just listed, our school is not for everyone, but neither is yours. Despite your administrator’s wishes to the contrary, progressive government education is an acquired taste for some, and a conscientious non-option for others. Not all parents want teachers forced to comply with the Department of Education’s Common Core curriculum, teaching their kids spelling without phonics or mathematics without memorizing basic math facts. Some parents are leery of their kids being taught subjects like literature or history apart from their overarching worldview (Christian or otherwise), and many think that redundant testing limits the measure of a student’s education to only that which is empirical at the expense of the evaluation of character and virtue that used to define education in this country 150 years ago.
Nor do these parents like the idea that a government school comes with government strings attached. Inherent to this concern is the reality that, though the majority of administration and teachers who might work with their students at your school are good and loving people, their hands are often tied by the system of which they are forced to be a part – curricularly, pedagogically, and spiritually. Teachers who claim faith – regardless of what it is – are forbidden to engage with students in a meaningful way, lest they be fired, which could be argued is an impeding of one’s freedom of speech. These are legitimate concerns, and while they may not be yours, they are others’.