One area of the “home front” that demands our continuing and persistent attention is that of the education of our covenant children; and by this I mean the Protestant Reformed education of Protestant Reformed children.
In that area of education, an increasingly crucial specific area is that of the secondary, or high school, education of our adolescent children — increasingly crucial as their present education becomes increasingly unsatisfactory.
And again, in the latter area, there is the more concrete question concerning a Protestant Reformed High School for the Grand Rapids area. This editorial is about that subject. To the extent that it concerns a specific project and a specific area, let me state frankly that it is addressed primarily, though not exclusively, to our readers of this area, where, I take it, our numerical strength is concentrated. But to the extent that it deals with facts, principles, issues, and lessons with which we all should be concerned, we may all learn from these lines.
Most of our readers are probably acquainted with the fact that in the Grand Rapids area there has been in existence for several years already an Association for Protestant Reformed Secondary Education, whose avowed goal has from the outset been to provide the graduates of our Adams and Hope schools with a high school education which would be a logical and consistent follow-up to their elementary and junior high education. This would be a high school attended by our Protestant Reformed children from all of the Grand Rapids churches, plus Hope, Hudsonville, and Holland.
In recent years, land has been purchased in the neighborhood of Hope’s church and school, a building fund has gradually been gathered, and preliminary curriculum plans were prepared. In fact, some building plans were also prepared; and at the time of the last drive for funds the goal of opening a school in 1967 and of beginning with the tenth grade and thereafter adding another grade in each of the next two years was proposed.
According to a recent newsletter, the Board now has in view the goal of opening with two grades in the year 1968. I have no quarrel with the Board’s decision to postpone the proposed opening one year: in view of the facts, especially the financial facts, I believe that decision is simply a matter of realism. A school simply cannot be built with insufficient funds.
The situation therefore is this: we have a hoped for goal of opening a high school with the tenth and eleventh grades in 1968, D.V.
DOES IT MAKE SENSE PRINCIPALLY?
From a positive point of view, the Standard Bearer has always endorsed the principle of Protestant Reformed education for Protestant Reformed children wherever and whenever the Lord opens the way for Protestant Reformed parents to establish their own schools. There can be no doubt that this makes sense. It makes sense that there is harmony in the instruction of church, home, and school; it does not make sense that the instruction of the school should be “out of kilter” with that of church and home. It makes sense that parents commit their children to the instruction and training of teachers who have the same convictions as they; it does not make sense that our children be committed to teachers who have convictions other than ours. About these things, if we take our being Protestant Reformed seriously, there can be no difference among us.
But from a negative point of view the situation with respect to the secondary education of our children is rapidly becoming so serious that I would almost be tempted to say that it is reaching emergency proportions. I speak from experience in this regard, gained both from the fact that I have children of high school age and from contacts with other high-schoolers in our churches. Any parents who “keep an eye” on the education of their high school children will have to agree with me: 1) That they are not receiving even a generally Reformed education, not even to mention a specifically Reformed one. 2) That they are not breathing even a generally Reformed atmosphere in the existing schools, let alone a specifically Reformed one. I have in mind in this connection the character of chapel exercises, for example; and I have in mind also the increasing looseness and permissiveness with respect to the movie, the dance (square or other variety), and worldly music (by whatever name it currently is called). 3) That they are thrust into an atmosphere where the danger of the disapproval of their peers, let alone the forming of undesirable friendships, in a very real way constitutes a force tempting them to be less loyal to what sometimes appears to their parents. 4) That they are subjected to much erroneous instruction. Let me mention just two examples that have recently come to my attention: 1) The burning issue of creation-or-evolution. 2) The false doctrine of the universal love of God and general atonement.
If any parents entertain the dream that this instruction is not dangerous, I can only pray that they will wake up. If you imagine that your children can be subjected to instruction and not be affected by it, you have wholly underestimated the power of the educational process. And this says nothing yet about the fact that while our children are undergoing this detrimental education, they are missing what they ought to receive, — a positive and thoroughly Reformed instruction, which can be of such inestimable value especially in those formative, adolescent years.
Frankly, I vex my soul every time I think of the fact that our Protestant Reformed young people are being denied a Protestant Reformed education. I vex my soul when I think of the fact that we must turn our children over to those who disagree with us exactly in an area which fundamentally affects education and all of what is called “culture,” — the area of the theory of common grace. And I vex my soul when I can see and hear Protestant Reformed young people sometimes begin to chafe at being “narrow” and “old-fashioned,” — due in no small degree to the educational influences to which they are subjected.
THE PERTINENT QUESTION
I had first intended to ask and answer the question whether a Grand Rapids area high school of our own makes practical sense also. But I do not believe that question needs treatment. There is no doubt in my mind that we are of sufficient numerical strength in this area to establish and operate a high school. Nor is there any doubt in my mind that we have the financial strength to do it. I believe indeed that it may require some dedicated and sacrificial giving. But I believe also that our people have shown again and again that when they are convinced of the rightness of a thing, they will give generous support.
I believe that the most basic question with respect to a high school for the Grand Rapids area is this: do we will it?
Many have answered that question affirmatively; and their number is increasing.
But that answer must come from us all. And by all I mean those who never again will have their own children of high school age, those who have children of that age or approaching that age, and those whose children are many years away from high school as yet.
I believe that the pulpit must place our people before this question. I believe that our consistories must do so in family visitation. And I believe that we all must co-labor to the end that this question receives the proper answer.
That answer is this: Yes, we will it; and, God willing, we shall have it!