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The Association for Christian Schools International (ACSI) and the Barna Group have completed a joint study on “Parents’ Goals for Education.” ECA is an accredited member of ACSI, and the Barna Group states that they “provide spiritual influencers with credible knowledge and clear thinking, enabling them to navigate a complex and changing culture.”

Recently I attended a meeting of Christian school administrators sponsored by ACSI at which the preliminary results of this survey were shared.  The results were very interesting, and to some degree they were not surprising.  However, as we pray to grow our school, it may be critical for all of us (staff and parents) to understand the dynamic that is surfacing.  I say this not to simply find like-minded prospective families, but moreover to use these opportunities in talking about the distinctives of our school to help shape the thinking of our prospective parents.

Before looking at the survey results, allow me to share one of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis:

“Aim for Heaven and you get Earth ‘thrown in’; aim at Earth and you get neither.”

To paraphrase, “Educate students with the grain of the Spirit of Christ and they will receive ample opportunities for excellent post-high school education, solid career opportunities, and a strong church and family life; if we train those students to prepare only for earth’s treasures, they may lose the very focal point of a truly meaningful life.”

With that, let us look at the priorities for education that became apparent from this survey.  You’ll notice that in every case both ACSI and Prospective Parents indicated some importance for each of these goals.  I have sorted the results showing two lists: the first showing the goals which were more important for ACSI parents, and the second those which scored as more important to the prospective parents.  I have also included the percentages for your inspection and consideration.

ACSI Parents’ Priorities for Education

Strong principles and values                           68% – ACSI / 53% – Prospects
Love for God and People                                    65% – ACSI / 33% – Prospects
Wisdom (ability to apply knowledge)        60% – ACSI / 47% – Prospects
Faithfulness and obedience to God             54% – ACSI / 21% – Prospects
Leadership skills and abilities                         52% – ACSI / 46% – Prospects
Spiritual maturity                                                  36% – ACSI / 17% – Prospects
Discovery of Calling or purpose                     33% – ACSI / 19% – Prospects

Prospective Parents’ Priorities for Education

Practical Life Skills                                                 51% – Prospects / 32% ACSI
Increased opportunities in life                       45% – Prospects / 29% ACSI
Fulfilling career                                                       38% – Prospects / 22% ACSI
Good relationships                                               29% – Prospects / 22% ACSI
Independence from parents                            22% – Prospects / 12% ACSI
Financial success                                                    28% – Prospects / 10% ACSI
Increased socials status or mobility            4% – Prospects / 1% ACSI

Let me close with this scripture that I believe summarizes what we learn from this survey:

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Matthew 6:33

I am convicted that we are living in an era where nurturing Christian-principled children who grow to exercise their purpose in Christ is more important now than perhaps ever before! Please join me in prayer that this will continue to be fostered in our school, churches, and homes!

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