New Christian hybrid schools growing and competing in post-pandemic landscape

Christian “micro-schools” have been started across the country, “offering a hybrid in-class and at-home education to keep costs down and the odds of survival up in an increasingly competitive K-12 sector,” writes Vince Bielski on the Real Clear Investigations website (August 17). After years of stagnation, many long-established Christian schools are also increasing their enrollment. Much of the recent post-pandemic rebound in Christian schooling has been prompted by parental opposition to public school shutdowns and by the expansion of school choice programs. The revival follows a long period of dropping enrollments and shutdowns since the mid-2000s. The decline was fueled by disenchantment over unaccredited schools and many schools’ preference for preaching Christianity over teaching rigorous courses, Bielski adds. Today the Christian school movement, attended by about 700,000 students in 8,000 schools, has replaced explicit Christian teachings with STEM programs, AP classes, and classical “great books” curriculums. During Covid, it was not only parents’ frustration with school closings that fanned the revival of Christian schooling; the move to remote learning gave parents access to their children’s lessons that in some cases included progressive and controversial teachings on race and gender.

Source: Oaks Christian School.

Bielski adds that “evangelical schools have taken in a fair share of these public school refugees by appealing to the conservative views of parents. In their statements of faith, schools not only stress classic doctrine, such as the Bible as the word of God and the second coming of Jesus Christ. The statements also include the conservative Christian take on hot-button issues, such as it’s a sin to deny one’s biological sex.” But there is also the pull factor of school choice programs that have been approved by 32 states and funded by taxpayers, including assistance for special-needs and low-income students. Eight states have recently approved universal laws making all students eligible for scholarships, regardless of family wealth. Scholars and school officials are wondering if the current revival will last. These schools face competition from well-established Catholic schools that have a longer reputation of academic excellence and from charter schools and home schooling. “And there are the old-guard fundamentalist schools that resist accreditation and refuse to accept school-choice funding,” Bielski writes.

(Real Clear Investigations,