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Full Attention Required: Christian Schools Flirting With Danger!

by Clint Holden, M.A.

As I drove home today waiting for my light to change I noticed something disappointingly similar among the drivers turning from the other direction. Each was talking on a cell phone. While, unfortunately, this is not so uncommon any longer, what mostly caught my attention was the third car in the stream of cars making the oncoming turn at their light while I waited.

The driver held a newspaper in her left hand that she was apparently reading and was taking a sip from her coffee cup in her right hand … all while navigating the left-hand turn with precision. ​I guess I have done this sort of thing before, myself, albeit stupidly. However, the statistics are saddening. For teenage drivers it is even worse, but here are some particulars about adults driving while distracted:

  • A study of dangerous driver behavior released in January 2007 by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. found that of 1,200 surveyed drivers, 73 percent talk on cell phones while driving.

  • The same 2007 survey found that 19 percent of motorists say they text message while driving.

  • In 2005, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that ten percent of drivers are on handheld or hands-free cell phones at any given hour of the day.

  • A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Motorists found that motorists who use cell phones while driving are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.

  • In 2002, the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis calculated that 2,600 people die each year as a result of using cell phones while driving. They estimated that another 330,000 are injured.

  • The majority of Americans believe that talking on the phone and texting are two of the most dangerous behaviors that occur behind the wheel. Still, as many as 81% of drivers admit to making phone calls while driving.

Christian schools can flirt with similar danger by recklessly and carelessly traveling along, not aware of the poor decisions they are making — or perhaps even bothering to care. Reckless attitudes such as over-budgeting, and making promises to add programs with little to no thought of the true cost to make that program one of excellence. Or perhaps just the opposite — cutting programs in a “cost-saving” measure without understanding their popularity, loyalty, or necessity (to maintaining accreditation or uniqueness, for instance). It is a mistake for schools to add programs simply for the sake of adding programs. Try this one on: A parent tells their Christian school they are pulling their 8th-grade son for high school because the local public school offers many more elective options. Sound familiar? In reaction, the school announces “three new elective offerings” for the upcoming school year. This will work, won’t it? Fall comes — registration takes place – and the three new classes have minimum enrollment. However, classes carry on, because the promise was made. Not wanting to break its promise, the school has now added three classes that it cannot fill costing the school thousands of dollars. This goes on for two or three years until the school finally realizes it cannot continue to do this year after year because it is too expensive. Recklessly the school moved forward – not counting the cost and consequently lost money in the process. Now they have to announce the classes will no longer be available. This is just one example of careless driving. Consider another. Curriculum. The school that chooses a “one-size fits all” curricular program is deceived into thinking it will meet all the needs of the student body. Often times the least path to resistance is to use the most popular curriculum. It might be seen as an easy choice and therefore little thinking or evaluation is required to make this decision. However, scripture exhorts us to “measure up to the full and complete standard of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). In other words … in all things have HIGH EXPECTATIONS! That means we will have to work at it and be creative and clever. Is it any wonder that so many Christian schools struggle forever to become anything more than a small struggling school, not serving a niche audience at all, not growing, not excelling, and experiencing all sorts of issues that keep parents from enrolling their children? Could it be that being “a school of excellence” is merely a saying and not a strategy? Above all, excellence requires insistence. Never give up. Look for ways to improve, change, or do something better. Scrutinize, evaluate, plan ahead, be thorough, and always, always, always expect the best. Do not become addicted to mediocrity. The only alternative is excellence. Have I stated it enough? Keep your eyes open. Understand the times. Evaluate the culture. Know the trends. Read books by experts in the field. Consult with others who have done it well. Attend seminars. Ask questions. Gain insight and knowledge and then lead your school with both eyes focused ahead, fully concentrating on the goal you have set. Excellence. Have great peripheral vision. Know what is coming alongside trying to derail you. Anticipate problems. Head them off before they happen, and have a plan waiting for them when they do appear. Like driving a car, your full attention is required. © by SchoolRIGHT, LLC., unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved.


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