With home property taxes collecting funding for public schools, the cost of living increasing, and the home environment not always situated conveniently to an Adventist educational facility, the question arises, “Why should I send my child to an Adventist school?” Often this question comes in response to an education Sabbath sermon or someone’s comments on “doing the right thing” for our kids.
On the surface Adventist education may not always appear to offer anything more of value than do public schools. It could be argued that some public schools provide a broader, more rounded worldview and a tolerance of ideas and thinking processes that would enable our children to make better choices on their own as they grow into adulthood. So whether it’s simply curiosity to hear what another person’s perspective is, or whether you haven’t really arrived at a satisfying conclusion for yourself, you are likely reading this article because you’re searching for a response to this question. Let’s explore some possible answers.
As Adventists, we value truth, integrity, and loyalty to God, His precepts, and His commandments. We also strive to be relevant and approachable to our community and the world in general. Isaiah 28:9, 10 says: “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (KJV).Ellen G. White comments several times on this verse, but perhaps one of the most poignant sentiments that emphasize the importance she places on education is found in the book The Adventist Home:
“Every child brought into the world is the property of Jesus Christ, and should be educated by precept and example to love and obey God; but by far the largest number of parents have neglected their God-given work, by failing to educate and train their children, from the first dawning of reason, to know and love Christ. By painstaking effort parents are to watch the opening, receptive mind and make everything in the home life secondary to the positive duty enjoined upon them by God—to train their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” 1
Raising a child doesn’t end when he or she walks out the door to attend school. Neither does the duty of a parent’s care cease when a child learns to write or to reason. It’s a continuous, ongoing responsibility.
So what about homeschooling your child? Is that a better option than an Adventist school? Isn’t that still Adventist education? If a child is taught in an Adventist home, then it’s Adventist education. Some families, however, can’t financially afford for a parent to stay at home to teach the children, and other parents may not have the ability or expertise to teach formal academic education to their child. For many, homeschooling is not a feasible plan, so formal Adventist education should then be considered.
Formal Adventist education encompasses academic excellence. Statistics show that Adventist education results in higher-than-average grades nationwide.2 Apart from academics, though, Adventist school staff and teachers strive to meet the needs of the individual student physically, mentally, and spiritually in a professional and positive manner. Adventist schools across North America are filled with teachers who have passion for maintaining and upholding the values of Adventist beliefs. These Adventist schools work toward accountability of their teachers and auxiliary staff in an open environment.
Ellen G. White wrote a beautiful book called Education, which parents as well as teachers would do well to read in order to understand the vital role they play in each child’s life. Adventist teachers strive to make a positive difference in students’ lives. Classes are prepared with the goal of reaching each student’s heart and mind so that they will become the best person they can be. Teachers also attempt to inculcate the concept that choices have meaning and significance within the “bigger picture,” and that the students are infinitely important to their family, friends, church—and the Creator of the universe.
“Christ’s teaching, like His sympathies, embraced the world. Never can there be a circumstance of life, a crisis in human experience, which has not been anticipated in His teaching, and for which its principles have not a lesson. The Prince of teachers, His words will be found a guide to His coworkers till the end of time. . . . The things of this life He placed in their true relation, as subordinate to those of eternal interest; but He did not ignore their importance. He taught that heaven and earth are linked together, and that a knowledge of divine truth prepares man better to perform the duties of daily life. To Him nothing was without purpose. The sports of the child, the toils of the man, life’s pleasures and cares and pains, all were means to the one end—the revelation of God for the uplifting of humanity.” 3
Teachers in Adventist schools I’m personally familiar with excel beyond expectations. One such school is Downers Grove Adventist School in Illinois. This school and its teachers reach out to current school families as well as the community to offer a nurturing, visionary education that meets the entire family where they are and works with them to provide the best education possible for their students. The school grows with the needs of its students and provides a safe and practical learning environment. The principal holds a doctorate in education and makes personal financial sacrifices in order to provide educational excellence. The teachers strive to establish links to the church and community in order to engage students in education and social interaction—and thus touch lives for Jesus. They take seriously their duty to care for the child, understanding that each one is an heir to the kingdom of God.
“In the Teacher sent from God, all true educational work finds its center. Of this work today as verily as of the work He established eighteen hundred years ago, the Saviour speaks in the
“ ‘I am the First and the Last, and the Living One.’
“ ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.’ . . . Revelation 1:17, RV; 21:6, RV.”4
“In the presence of such a Teacher, of such opportunity for divine education, what worse than folly is it to seek an education apart from Him—to seek to be wise apart from Wisdom; to be true while rejecting Truth; to seek illumination apart from the Light, and existence without the Life; to turn from the Fountain of living waters, and hew out broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”5
Adventist schools strive for healthy boundaries, and work toward stopping all forms of bullying and unhealthful practices such as the use of drugs and alcohol. These boundaries are put in place in order to uphold the values and principles of Seventh-day Adventist beliefs, many of them shared by the community as well.
When a child attends an Adventist school, they associate with other youth of similar faith and beliefs. Friendships are begun that can last a lifetime, and together they can influence one another far beyond the school environment to remain firm to truth and integrity. Students not of our faith who attend Adventist schools can also benefit from the friendly and secure learning environment. Friendship evangelism begins with positive connections with Adventist people, and the Adventist school provides plenty of opportunity for this to occur for both children and parents alike.
So why should I send my child to
an Adventist school? Because even though my child may not be perfect and the school and teachers not as ideal as
I think they should be, God is there—and God will bless my family and my child, as learning occurs in the most optimal educational facility. It’s worth the drive, it’s worth the financial expenditure, and it’s worth my child’s earthly education and eternal well-being.
But don’t take my word for it. “Test all things; and hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21, NKJV).6 Answer the question by trusting God’s promises and reap the rewards yourself!