News Articles

10/1/97 Christian group undergirds educators in public schools

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP)–The leader of a Christian organization for school administrators hopes more educators and youth pastors come together in their efforts to reach America’s public schools for Christ.
“We think there’s a natural link between Christian educators and the youth groups trying to work in schools,” said Richard Deckard, national director of the School Administrators Network. “If we can identify administrators in the buildings, they can sponsor groups and then help them go back to the churches to be discipled.”
Christian educators are an important catalyst for this mission, he added, since the chances of new clubs thriving are much better with their active support. With more than 55,000 secondary schools in the United States and only 10,000 Christian clubs, Deckard said a lot of work remains to be done.
Working with administrators from nearly 10 states, Deckard has been expanding the School Administrators Network by enlisting the help of local churches in identifying Christian school officials.
These educators face the same kind of challenge in uncovering mutual support as students who want to start spiritually oriented clubs, Deckard noted.
“There are 2.2 million members in the National Education Association (NEA) and we think there are 700,000 of that number who are Christians,” Deckard said. “There are a lot of good teachers and administrators out there, but they need a way to network.”
The administrative group is a relatively new division of the Christian Educators Association, a Pasadena, Calif.,-based alternative to the national teachers’ association. CEA, though a David of 6,500 members compared to the Goliath-sized NEA, has quadrupled in size the past five years.
CEA’s executive director, Forrest Turpen, said one major advance for the group came through acquiring professional liability insurance for members. It also got a boost in visibility through a special insert in Teachers In Focus, a magazine produced by the nationally known Focus on the Family ministry.
“Our biggest problem is getting the word out,” Turpen noted. “Teachers are still fearful of associating with anything ‘Christian’ in its name when it comes to public schools.”
In addition to trying to establish more links between youth pastors and teachers, CEA resources help train teachers to be Christlike in the classroom and to influence their students in positive ways, Turpen said.
The group provides guidelines on how the Bible can be used in a vocational setting, distributes presidential proclamations on such events as the National Day of Prayer and sometimes distributes free New Testaments to students.
CEA also encourages local churches to take a more active interest in schools through three programs:
— “Adopt a School.” This begins with a church or Sunday school class getting staff names from a nearby school and praying for them regularly. In addition, CEA seeks to get church members to volunteer at schools, purchase needed equipment and sponsor off-campus spiritual instruction.
— “Adopt a Teacher.” This includes both praying for specific instructors and helping them with various tasks.
— Holding an “Educators Sunday” in September to recognize teachers within the church and pray for them.
“We want to send them out as missionaries to the schools,” Turpen said. “It’s the church’s responsibility to reach out.”

    About the Author

  • Ken Walker