Accreditation, certification, licensing, and commissioning relating to Christian education are all related to the basic issue: Does the government, state or federal, have the authority to control a ministry? And make no mistake, it is all about control. It has little to do with quality education.
The Abell Foundation published a study last year titled, “Teacher Certification Reconsidered: Stumbling for Quality” by Kate Walsh. Her conclusion: certification of teachers is not working! Well, it didn’t take an expensive study to support that fact. There is no evidence to support the prevailing idea that teacher certification produces higher student achievement gains! So why do Christian schools jump through the hoops to get it, especially when it restricts their ministry?
The following is my reply to one close to me concerning my articles on accreditation:
I just received your epistle (GRIN) on my accreditation article. You are correct when you say that colleges must inform their students before or as soon as they enroll that their degrees and credits will not be accepted in some places. I assume that most colleges such as Bob Jones, Hyles-Anderson, Pensacola Christian, etc., do that. However, let me emphasize that the applicant must take responsibility to check out a college to see if it meets his or her needs, requirements, etc.
I agreed with you at the beginning, but you are not correct when you say that graduates from unaccredited colleges “can’t get jobs in public schools and many private schools.” That is not correct. One example: West Virginia refuses (or refused) to accept Bob Jones graduates for teaching positions while across the Ohio River in Ohio they are gladly accepted. It depends on the area and state. And I have never, ever heard of a Christian school refusing to hire a graduate because his or her degree was from a non-accredited school. Never.
You say that “many” schools use anti-accreditation as an excuse to hide their poor finances, bad library, etc. That may be true, but I don’t know of any that are guilty of that. You also say that one reason colleges refuse accreditation is that of accountability. That is the point: Can a Bible-teaching school (or church) permit any other entity to make any requirements of them? Especially a secular, humanist organization?
Case in point is the Christian college in British Columbia that takes a biblical position on homosexuality. Because of that, they lost their accreditation. British Columbia is fearful that the teachers will go into their public schools and teach “homophobic,” biblical positions. The same kind of thing is going to happen here as sure as God made little green apples.
You say that colleges should have “sound” financial standards, but who are you (or I) or any other entity to tell a Christian college how they should raise and spend money? One problem accrediting agencies have is schools that operate by faith, but how dare they tell us that a school cannot operate or operate properly unless they have a million dollars in the bank! Or 5 million in endowments. You see when a college has a biblical world-view and a secular agency has a humanist world-view they will always clash. Always!
You say that churches have hurt their testimony by tolerating mediocrity under the justification of biblical “principles,” and have made those principles a meaningless mockery. (Yes, I appreciated your articulate, alacritous attempt at astute alliteration although it assuredly went aground.) Well, there is enough mediocrity to go around. And we must never try to justify it by using the Bible as a “cover.”
A church (or school) should do their best by their staff and teachers and pay fair and reasonable salaries. Yes, it is wrong, thoughtless, and even greedy for a pastor (or college president) to receive a huge salary and benefits while teachers qualify for food stamps! That is not treating other people as we would want to be treated. Each school director must decide what is “fair and reasonable.”
When I was administrator of Baptist Academy in Indianapolis I was frustrated that we had such good, gracious teachers yet paid them poorly (by the world’s standards and since we live in the world the comparison is valid). However, since we live in the real world, the real world was this: The only funds we had were what came in through tuition with inconsequential gifts, so if I raised tuition so we could pay teachers more, we would lose students (who wanted and needed the education we provided).
What to do? I raised their pay each year but not nearly what I wanted. Most of them worked through the summer at other jobs and were either singles or married couples whose combined incomes provided a reasonable standard of living. Was it the best? No, but it was what I could do, and I did remind myself that those teachers had applied and accepted those positions. Maybe it really was a ministry (a service to others), and maybe it is not an excuse to say that they “will get their reward” hereafter. They surely didn’t get it here and now.
During my time in education, I found that there was mediocrity in some schools; however mediocrity was not a big problem. You see, some people think a Christian school is mediocre because they usually don’t provide trig, calculus, foreign language, a gym, pool, etc., but those people have been brainwashed. It is good for a school to offer various subjects (even drivers ed, shop, etc.), but a person can be well-educated if he has a working grasp of English, math, history, geography, economics, science, literature and Bible. I estimate that the information learned in any school is minuscule to what a student learns when he is no longer in school.
Surely you are aware of the mediocrity in many of the secular (even Ivy League) universities. They have impressive campuses, huge endowments, and credentialed (and tenured) faculty but are an embarrassment to their former graduates. All one must do is look at their catalogs and see the courses offered. This is not even considering the silly feminist classes, Afro-centrist studies, affirmative action propaganda, bogus science of evolution, anti-business ethic, etc., that they spew forth. Many books have been written in the past few years that document the rottenness within the major universities–all accredited. (The old pitch that Harvard is not accredited is simply not so and has become part of fundamentalist urban legends. I queried Harvard’s president about this and he assured me that they are accredited.)
I believe the “mockery” is when Christians feel insecure if they don’t have the “organizational stamp of approval” upon God-approved ministry, and are willing to go through all kinds of mental, theological, and financial gymnastics to be “accepted.” Can we ever expect the secular world to understand us? And, horrors of horrors, can we even think that they would approve us? Let me remind you that Paul said that we are the offscouring of the earth. That applies to Christian schools as well as individuals and churches.
I’m afraid that I have fought too many battles, lost too many “friends,” made too many enemies, and taken too many rigid positions to be “reeducated” by failing fundamentalists, lip-smacking liberals, or effervescent evangelicals. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone, and don’t want anything from anybody. So, my pastor/friends can accredit their schools, certify their teachers, and tone down their former militancy while I continue to carry on our ministry as I have for many years. We will all face our decisions at the Judgment Seat.
One thing is sure: I will never be controlled, commissioned, certified, licensed, or bought by my friends or my foes.