- Just how safe is the public school for your child?
I’m not talking her about the recent rash of school shootings like Columbine and Sandy Hook. How about the myriad of other risks that public school children are exposed to – like tobacco, alcohol, sex, and drugs? What about bullying? Perhaps the biggest questions on your mind about the public school is the greatest unknown of all – What are the moral and ethical values of the teachers and staff who will have a huge influence in shaping your child’s life during the most formative years?
A private school has a great deal more ability to deal with these sorts of issues than a public school. The public school is required to provide an education for all children. They usually do not have the luxury of dismissing students who are disruptive or who pose a threat to fellow students, unless there is proven criminal activity. A private school, on the other hand, will establish clear policies regarding smoking, drinking, dating, bullying, etc., and has the absolute ability to prevent, control, and eliminate these types of behavior, resulting in a SAFE PLACE for children to learn and grow.
Additionally, at Bethlehem Christian School, all adults in the Learning Center are known to us personally, are of known church standing, and of proven character.
2. Who should be in charge of your child’s education – You, or the government?
One hundred years ago, a great many of the schools in our country met in the local church and were taught by caring, Christian teachers who were appointed or hired by the local town or church congregation. The primary text used was the Bible.
When government, or public, schools were started, there was a genuinely commendable purpose behind the idea – to provide a minimal standard education to every child in the United States. Over the years, as with anything that is administered by the government, and with the influence of the National Education Association (teacher’s union), the school system has become enslaved to the politics of the day. Whether it’s No Child Left Behind, Common Core, or whatever program will come next, the politicians have somehow come to think that they have more of a right to control your child’s education than you do as parents.
The day our 3rd grader came home from school with a fairly-detailed sex education book, we decided that enough was enough. We immediately started home schooling, and four years later, as pastors of a local church, we founded the Bethlehem Christian School in 1997.
The bottom line is – Who is going to dictate what your child learns in school – You, or the current political party in power?
3. How do you know the class is moving at the right pace for your child?
One of the most challenging issues in classrooms is that there is a great diversity of children. Some learn much more quickly than others, and some learn much slower. The result is that some children are left behind, while others are perpetually bored and don’t learn, because there is no challenge.
The solution is one of the greatest developments in modern education. At Bethlehem Christian School, we utilize a proven, self-paced curriculum that is tailored to each student. Upon admission to the school, each student is tested for any “learning gaps” from previous school years, and assigned lessons based on their current education level. Under close supervision, they work on their own materials at their own pace. The result is that each child learns at their own optimal speed, is taught how to set their own academic goals, and is constantly challenged with new information and assignments.
4. What about college acceptance coming out of a small private Christian school?
We have found that opportunities for college acceptance directly out of Bethlehem Christian School are excellent. There are a variety of reasons for this, but here are a few.
On a regular basis, we use the commonly-accepted California Achievement Test to evaluate our students throughout their academic careers. This provides us with regular feedback as to their progress.
Because our students are used to regular achievement testing, they usually perform quite well on college boards.
The best guarantee of success, however, is thanks to the design of the curriculum and system that we use. In each course that our students take, there are periodic tests that must be taken - closed book - and passed with minimum scores of 80% or 90%, depending on grade level and course. If they do not achieve that percentage score, they are made to repeat that section of material until it is mastered and the high score achieved. As a result, all of our graduates to date have graduated with cumulative grade point averages in the mid-90% range.
As long as the student has above-average SAT or ACT scores, there are not too many colleges that will turn down an applicant with above a 90% grade point average. To date, all of our graduates have been accepted to every college to which they have applied.
5. Wouldn’t a private school education be too expensive?
To evaluate the cost of education, let’s make a few comparisons.
A few years ago, New Hampshire Public Radio aired a report that stated the average cost per student in New Hampshire was about $3,800 per year. (This comes from property taxes.) Recently, a report on National Public Radio stated that the federal government subsidy for the free breakfast and lunch project in the public schools was approximately $5,000 per student. (This comes from federal income taxes.) That’s about $8,800 per year to provide public education for many children in New Hampshire. I wonder if we’re getting our money’s worth?
By comparison, I recently checked into the tuition for several private Christian schools in the Midwest and in New England. Tuition ranged from $3,900 per year for students in the early grades to $8,900 per year for high-schoolers. These numbers were after the up to $1,500 of tuition assistance granted to each student in some schools from private donors.
I think these are pretty scary numbers!
Online research - http://www.jbartlett.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Choosing-to-Learn.2.pdf - confirms that the average tuition for private Christian elementary schools in New Hampshire is about $650 per month (considerably higher for high schools). Many of these schools closed at the start of the recent recession, because people could no longer afford it.
At Bethlehem Christian School we have found that it doesn’t have to be this way. For many years now, we’ve been able to hold our tuition to $200 per month ($2,000 per year), plus the cost of curriculum. Curriculum varies per student, but generally averages $25-$40 per month. This amounts to about $230 per month, or just under 5% of the average family income in the North Country. Also, in many cases tuition expense is tax deductable.
Our mandate has always been to make a private, Christian school education affordable to anyone. We think we’ve done a pretty good job of that by keeping your investment at about 35% of what the competition charges. For less than the cost of daycare, your child can have the benefit of a Private Christian School Education.
Thank you for your interest in private Christian schooling.
Dr. Steven M. Palmer
Senior Pastor and Administrator
Bethlehem Christian School
“Our purpose is to help parents insure that their children receive a superior academic education, backed by strong moral and spiritual values.”