“Parent” doesn’t mean “Owner”

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I’ve noticed a rising trend lately among the parents of younger students to define the “covenantal” part of NCS’s “Christian/covenantal/classical” philosophy thus: “Because the school has partnered with the parents, the school must give in when enough parents want something to change.”

Or more bluntly, “we write the tuition checks, so ultimately we ‘own’ your vision and mission.”  Partnership equals unequal control.

That’s not what I thought covenantal meant when I hired on. LOL

Some thoughts off the top of my head — these are in flux so don’t react too strongly…..

  • “Covenantal” in our school mission statement means that we partner with families who know Christ, who acknowledge His lordship over their childrearing, and who profess faith in a God who saves by grace.  By extension, that means that we faculty are hopefully going the same direction as the parents, but I never thought that meant we’d always be in agreement when it comes to educational methods or materials.
  • Schools don’t operate well when parents and teachers aren’t in agreement on the BIG issues — the grace-based discipline that we try to implement, our curriculum goals, our underlying committment to “present every child complete in Christ” (not just the smart ones).  Families who can’t agree with us on the really “big stuff” will never be happy and probably shouldn’t enroll.
  • However schools also don’t operate well when no one has an alternate opinion.  It seems like families and teachers form a dialectic — different perspectives moving toward the same goal. (I hope.)  That contrast in perspectives (a ‘soft’ conflict — merely the differences that arise from different viewpoints) pushes us all toward a compromise that hopefully works well for each family.  And a small school has room to give a little when needed.
  • I think there’s a fine line between being deceptive in my course descriptions and “not borrowing trouble” by pointing out any potential conflict or disagreement pre-emptively……  I don’t necessarily point it out to the parents when I’m going to teach a novel that is a standard, respected educational option but possibly controversial.  No one has ever challenged me on that. But I am sure a storm will eventually come. Is it wrong not to offer “full disclosure” if you know that parents won’t be upset if you don’t go stir the pot by asking?  Everybody is happy — the kids get a broader, GOOD educational experience and parents aren’t angry over something they didn’t need to be upset over.
  • To what extent does the communal nature of the Church mean that parents need alternate voices when raising their children?   When we PCA people take that vow to “assist new parents in training up this child in God’s ways” at a baptism, does that vow give me the right to suggest that a parent needs to let their teen step out from the shadow of protection and begin to experience a broader taste of culture and literature?

At times, I’m a fighter, not a peacemaker.  It can be a weakness.   I’m much more likely to dig in and refuse to budge when someone challenges what I’m teaching / reading / saying (assuming they’re challenging something that I’m doing purposefully — not just a flat our mistake on my part).   So I’m wondering how to moderate my spitfire with some relational wisdom. 

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