The majority of private Christian schools in America increased enrollment as conservative parents worried about COVID shutdowns and worried about “moral and social issues,” according to a new national survey.

“After the pandemic, eight in 10 Christian school leaders say they see an increase in demand for Christian education in their area, with more than half reporting a ‘substantial’ increase,” according to one summary provided by consulting firm DickersonBakker. “This demand has translated into increased enrollment, with 79% of Christian leaders saying their school has grown ‘somewhat’ (36%) or ‘considerably’ (43%).”

Additionally, among private Christian schools not experiencing an increase in enrollment, 86% indicated that the primary reason was that interested families were unable to afford tuition.

The survey highlights two contrasting realities: Private Christian schools, which tend to be more conservative in theology and culture, are growing rapidly but are not particularly good at fundraising. And tuition fees are a barrier for some parents who want a private education for their children.

There has been a corresponding push for a diversion of public education funds to these private schools, with several key court cases recently opening the door further. Church and state separatists oppose schemes such as the government’s abusive funding of religion.

Regarding the cause of the surge in enrollment, DickersonBakker’s summary states: “A convergence of cultural factors, from the remote learning that has taken place during the pandemic to moral and social concerns, is pushing increasing numbers of parents to consider alternative education for their children. . Christian schools across the country appear to be benefiting from this trend, with demand rising and enrollment increasing.

Since 2020, public schools have become battlegrounds between politically and theologically conservative parents and school boards, not only over pandemic health precautions, but also over library books, gender inclusion, and how American history of race and slavery is taught. Conservative critics of public education have grouped all of these social concerns under the banner of critical race theory.

The boom in Christian private school enrollment has been called a “second great awakeningfor the private school movement. The first boom occurred in the 1950s and 1960s in response by white evangelical parents to school integration and the bus.

Other national surveys have also found documented or anecdotal evidence of a current growth trend in private Christian K-12 schools. Among these is a investigation by the libertarian Cato Institute.

Enrollment Growth has brought new challenges to private schools, specifically related to funding, facilities and teacher recruitment.

Seven of the top 10 challenges identified by Christian school leaders in the latest survey are related to financial sustainability.

“Three in four Christian principals say they have trouble hiring qualified staff, a third say they don’t have enough room on campus for more students, and yet only three in 10 schools have increased their fundraising activities,” the survey summary says.

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Racism and the Evolution of Protestant Support for Private Education | Analysis by Andrew Gardner

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