By: Caitlyn Harding, Public and Media Relations Coordinator
April 18, 2023

In Illinois, Christina*, a single mom of several children, had to remove herself and her children from a family situation that was detrimental to their well-being. She could no longer homeschool but feared that enrolling them in the large Chicago public school system might compound their trauma.

Christina’s children were in desperate need of teachers and mentors who would compassionately come alongside them to help them gain confidence, grow academically and spiritually, and prepare them for college. These were urgent needs, as her oldest son at the time was a high school junior.

She explored several options and discovered ACSI’s Children’s Tuition Fund, a ministry that supports and advocates for educational choice through scholarship tax-credit programs. This program allowed her junior son to attend Christian Heritage Academy—a small, faith-based school that provides exemplary education based on biblical values to all students. Christina later shared that the academy’s intentional, supportive school community literally saved her son’s life.

Stories of students successfully transitioning to private schooling options are prevalent. In an article titled, “Public Schools Have Lost over a Million Students. Here’s Where They’re Going,” published by National Review’s online magazine, ACSI Director of Research Dr. Matthew Lee and ACSI Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer Dr. Lynn Swaner unpacked relevant research findings proving that Christian schools in general have recorded 35 percent higher enrollment than at the start of the pandemic. Why did this happen?

According to the ACSI research report titled, “Schools Weather Pandemic Storm with Steady Student Achievement, In-Person Instruction, and Enrollment Growth,” approximately 84 percent of Christian schools returned to in-person instruction “much sooner” than local district schools. The responsiveness of private Christian schools to students’ learning needs during the pandemic, as well as the desire for an in-person mode of instruction, made it imperative for many families to find a Christian school.

Simultaneously, school choice dollars received by schools are up by almost half for the median ACSI school ($452,882 in 2020-21, up 47% since 2018-19); this suggests that more parents are exercising choice and enrolling their children in Christian schools.

In an interview with Conduit News, Dr. Lee shared that “last year [in 2022], 19 states expanded or enacted new private school choice programs,” indicating that the school choice movement is sweeping across the nation.

Parents are choosing an education that best suits their children. With schools like ACSI member Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, CA, leading the charge in offering innovative opportunities for students, it’s easy to see why. Oaks Christian administration is gaining worldwide attention for their “institutes.” The three institutes, The Institute of Arts and Innovation (IAI), the Institute of Engineering (IE), and the Institute of Global Leadership (IGL), recognize the varying, God-given passions and skillsets of their students.

Oaks Christian is a school that is truly embracing the future. The school is one of eleven that is featured in ACSI’s new book, Future Ready. Some of the innovative structures and strategies explored in the study include school mergers, online academies, microschools, Christian school districts, entrepreneurship and facilities leasing, and leveraging school choice programs.

Christian schools also adapted and even thrived during the pandemic.

Matt Kwiatkowski, Head of School at Delmarva Christian Schools in Delaware, reported that enrollment at DCS has increased by nearly 100 students since the start of the pandemic.

“One of the ways we’ve grown through COVID-19 is that Christian schools in Delaware have embraced the idea of being stronger together,” he said. “We’ve always had respect for one another, but COVID taught us how to pull together, collaborate, and strategize with one another. We’ve got a core group of educators that are in a stronger position now to stand for religious liberty.”

Dr. Lee believes it’s imperative that when considering various educational options, individuals must first ask themselves what the purpose of education is.

“Over the course of my graduate studies, I came to the realization that my work with education, my research on education policy, and the way in which I study schools cannot be separated from my Christian faith,” he stated.

ACSI President Dr. Larry Taylor believes passionately that parents should have the choice in their child’s education.

While ACSI is advocating for school choice to remain an educational freedom in the United States, the organization continues to seek ways to provide access to Christ-centered education around the globe.

After a recent trip to India, Dr. Taylor shared heartwarming testimonies of God’s hand moving across the globe.

“I’ve been blessed to travel around the world, and I haven’t met a mom or a dad that does not want their child to be educated,” he shared. “In India, one of our top ACSI schools currently mentors and shepherds nearly 120 children who would have otherwise been destined to human trafficking.”

Dr. Taylor believes the work of Christian education is having a lasting, eternal impact on a global scale.

“I think it’s the wise head of school that has the horizons scanned and is preparing who will help sustain the Christian education mission,” he shared.

“We have an opportunity as Christian educators to be a huge light for Jesus Christ ... to go into under resourced areas and to ask for nothing other than school choice strategies for funding and applying that to those communities. ACSI could help ensure the education is quality.” 

After witnessing Christian education and its real-life impact overseas, Dr. Taylor has a renewed sense of vision.

“One of the key takeaways I’ve recognized is that education really is a universal language. At ACSI, one of our driving strategic pillars is Access—focusing on the children who don’t have access to Christian education. I personally believe that all parents, regardless of socio-economic status or circumstance, should have that choice.”

To learn more about ACSI’s involvement in advocating for school choice, visit the website. 

*Name has been changed for safety