POSSIBLE AVENUE FOR FORMING A FP SCHOOL IN NORTH AMERICA
by J. Parnell McCarter
Any substantial effort typically begins with a conviction, and it will likely be necessary in this case if a Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (FP) school is going to arise in North America. It is my conviction that the schools for a people be superintended by the Church, which has the task of making sure that what is taught in the schools is consistent with reformed Biblical doctrine. I have an article at http://www.puritans.net/news/education090704.htm arguing for this view’s scriptural basis and historical precedent. The First Book of Discipline, which forms part of the subordinate standards of the FP church, has this to say on the subject:
“For the Schools
Seeing that the office and duty of the godly magistrate is not only to purge the church of God from all superstition, and to set it at liberty from bondage of tyrants; but also to provide, to the uttermost of his power, how it may abide in the same purity to the posterity following; we cannot but freely communicate our judgments with your honours in this behalf.
The Necessity of Schools
Seeing that God has determined that his church here in earth shall be taught not by angels but by men; and seeing that men are born ignorant of all godliness; and seeing, also, God now ceases to illuminate men miraculously, suddenly changing them, as that he did his apostles and others in the primitive church: of necessity it is that your honours be most careful for the virtuous education and godly upbringing of the youth of this realm, if either ye now thirst unfeignedly [for] the advancement of Christ's glory, or yet desire the continuance of his benefits to the generation following. For as the youth must succeed to us, so we ought to be careful that they have the knowledge and erudition to profit and comfort that which ought to be most dear to us-to wit, the church and spouse of the Lord Jesus. Of necessity therefore we judge it, that every several church have a schoolmaster appointed, such a one as is able, at least, to teach grammar and the Latin tongue, if the town is of any reputation. If it is upland, where the people convene to doctrine but once in the week, then must either the reader or the minister there appointed, take care over the children and youth of the parish, to instruct them in their first rudiments, and especially in the catechism, as we have it now translated in the book of our common order, called the Order of Geneva. And further, we think it expedient that in every notable town, and especially in the town of the superintendent, [there] be erected a college, in which the arts, at least logic and rhetoric, together with the tongues, be read by sufficient masters, for whom honest stipends must be appointed; as also provision for those that are poor, and are not able by themselves, nor by their friends, to be sustained at letters, especially such as come from landward.”
So it suggests that the ideal is that the schools are superintended by the Church, and that the State helps financially support the Church to carry on such enterprise.
Such schools in no way remove or eliminate a primary role that parents have in their own children’s education, but such schools should be conceived as aids to help parents perform their duty. It has been my contention that parents have the duty of seeking a reformed Biblical education for their children, even if the Church and State fail in some measure to do their part to help parents in this as they ought. It has been within that context that the Puritans’ Home School Curriculum (www.puritans.net/curriculum/) has been available for parents to use of as they see fit. This curriculum could be expanded and enriched to provide an inexpensive but academically rich way to provide many textbooks for school students, utilizing tablet computer technology.
It is my hope that others would join me in the conviction of the importance of a FP school here, and then join me in forming a Committee of Advisors for the Formation of a FP Christian School in North America. The primary task of this Committee would be to prepare a workable plan for establishing and running a FP Christian School in North America, which could be proposed to one of the FP church sessions for its review and consideration. It is my opinion that a FP school can be done at a much lower cost than commonly imagined, efficiently utilizing technology and the church buildings which the FP church already owns in North America. I have provided a sketch for the use of technology at http://www.puritans.net/Westminster_Covenant_Academy/, although this is dated. Google+, Google Voice, tablet computers, etc. have been advancing to add richer technology options. Much of the education could occur from people’s residences, but with periodic gatherings of students at the FP church buildings (for those residing near one of these two FP congregations). Certainly one issue that would have to be addressed is school staffing. A principal would need to be obtained to oversee school administration, under oversight of one of the two FP church sessions in North America. Such principal would likely be the only full-time paid staff person at the school’s inception. The overseeing FP church session would be a “Board of Education” for the FP school. The principal could also teach some of the courses at the FP school. One possible principal which could be considered is Mr. Mark Hausam, should he be amenable to such a possibility. Other teachers could be obtained on a class-by-class basis. If the FP school were to get off the ground, it is possible the Committee of Advisors for the Formation of a FP Christian School in North America could transition into an unpaid voluntary Board of Academic Advisors for the FP school, should the overseeing church session believe such would be helpful.
Now would seem to be an opportune time for such a FP school to be considered, as there are a fair number of FP children to form the base population of students in such a school. Some parents have already expressed an interest in such a school. In addition, there seem to be a number of adults qualified to assist in the endeavor associated with the FP church here.
Such an endeavor would provide the added advantage of helping the FP church in North America to carry out its task of proclaiming and educating the people here in the reformed Biblical gospel and doctrine to the glory of Jesus Christ.