Updated: Sep 27, 2018
Sixty years ago this month, Honorable Thurgood Marshall, our nation’s first African American Supreme Court Justice, argued the following in the case Aaron v Cooper:
"Education is not the teaching of three R's. Education is teaching of the overall citizenship, to learn, to live together with fellow citizens and above all, to learn to obey the law, . . . I'm not worried about the Negro children at this stage. I don't believe they're in this case as such," Marshall continued. "I worry about the white children in Little Rock who are told as young people that the way to get your rights is to violate the law and defy the lawful authorities. I'm worried about their future. I don't worry about the Negro kids' future. They've been struggling with democracy long enough. They know about it."
Parents want to make the best education decision for their children. In fact, they realize this is the one of the most important decision(s) they will ever face. School choice. We can choose from neighborhood and magnet options, to charter, private, virtual or home school options. We can choose college preparatory, montessori, fine arts, STEM, or project-based curriculum. We can choose secular or biblical worldviews. We can choose between new and old facilities. We can choose from practically racially homogenous or heterogenous schools. Then we filter through geography, affordability, preferences, and our child’s propensities. Finally, we make a value statement- is this school worth the distance, cost, downsides.
It is one thing to choose from a buffet of options. As a parent, educator, and innovator, I had a different choice. I had the opportunity to create any school I wanted. So why did I create a school whose DNA is “inspire world changers through Christ-centered, intercultural, language immersion education?”
Why did I not launch a charter school, providing free education while ensuring a lucrative financial model? Why did I not locate the school in a wealthy area to capture high tuition payments? Why did I not partner with a church that has state of the arc facilities? Why did I not create a STEM or fine arts school where teachers are much more available than foreign language teachers?
My filter in creating this school was not “Is this possible?” or “Is this a good business plan?” My filter was, “How do I make the best school for my own children and our community?”
So I started at the foundations of education. I believe every human, created in the image of God, is hardwired to learn. We want to learn. In fact, according to 2 Corinthians 3:18, we will be learning for all eternity. Yet, I see how school after school kills children’s “desire to learn” in the classroom. While there are several factors to why many students dislike school, I prefer to focus on why a student loves school. The first word in our mission statement is “Inspire.” Our main strategy is not for children to memorize and regurgitate, we want to approach children according to their developmental geniuses, and unlock their own curiosities, lighting a fire where they want to learn both inside and outside of the classroom throughout their lifetime.
Yet inspiration alone is not enough. We can inspire children to live vapid lives for themselves. Children are not born with worldviews. Their perspective and values are formed largely by their environments. No school or teacher instructs out of a neutral worldview; everyone has an agenda, desiring to form a child’s thoughts after their own convictions. Everyone. Currently, the most prevalent worldview is based on relativism where truth is not absolute; truth can be what you want it to be. Relativism (aka secular humanism) seeks to teach truths about the world (mathematics, histories, grammar, scientific facts and theories) yet undermine these truths by stating there are no absolute truths. The precise order in the universe came from chaos; the survival of creatures comes from domination over the weak, and you are only held accountable if caught. One piece of proof is our society now aborts almost 100% of down syndrome babies (source: Washington Post).
While relativism claims to be loving, the reality is fleshed out daily in our media (beit left or right-winged), relativists often only love those who agree with their convictions. That is why our country has become so polarized, and will continue to divide. While relativists try to paint Christianity as strident, intolerant, ignorant, and hateful, the biblical reality is starkly different (granted many unbiblical churches and Christian schools have earned such a reputation).
A Christ-centered school shows children that they are not an accident, nor is their world an accident. We were intentionally created and we can know that purpose. We know the truth of how and why things exist. We know that we were created by a loving God who made us to abide in His love, and love others. We know that we often reject his love because of selfishness. And yet we know His love is so great that Jesus laid down his life for those who reject Him, offering redemption to anyone who would seek Him. And through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Bible, we can learn to love everyone, even laying down our lives for people who have contrary ideologies. Our communities desperately need that love. They need that Christ.
But I could build a Christ-centered school in a largely affluent area. Why North Charleston? Because I know children have a notion of “normal” by 7 years of age. I can preach to my children all I want on loving people of other cultures (cultures can be found in socioeconomic levels, home countries, spoken language, race, etc). However, if their only meaningful relationships are with children who look, sound, and act like them, then by the age of 7 I have created “normal” and subsequently made everyone else uncomfortably abnormal. I call this unintentional classism, xenophobia, racism. It is a non negotiable for me, that my children attend a school that looks more like heaven and less like our neighborhoods. If I want them to grow up to be a world changer, then they need to learn to love others before they grow up. For this reason, our school culture is saturated with many cultures, starting with each teacher in the classroom, and displayed throughout the children. As The Honorable Thurgood Marshall argued in Aaron v. Cooper, education is sooooo much more than just the 3 R’s.
Even yet, I could have created a successful Christ-centered intercultural school, and avoided the language immersion component. However, I want to create the best school for my children, and math does not lie. Research shows over and over again that multilingual speakers are more likely to concentrate better, score higher on standardized tests (e.g. SAT), think more critically and metacognitively, learn additional languages, and build more cross cultural friendships. And beyond the research, we are seeing this played out daily. Every young child is developmentally a language genius and we get to watch our students absorb language like a sponge, while our first graders are learning grade level content in both Spanish and English.
By capturing developmental genius, normalizing cultural differences, and modeling the selfless love of God, CBA is inspiring our children. We are lighting a fire that will burn bright, changing communities one life at a time. We might not have the best facilities yet. We might not have all of the bells and whistles, but we have a unique, one of a kind school, where amazing teachers are inspiring and equipping world changers day in and day out.