I’ve been meeting with a lot of grown-ups lately. I’m used to hanging with 5 year-olds who ask the trickest of questions with impossible answers, but grown-ups can ask some pretty tough questions themselves, and the answer, “because I said so…” doesn’t fly as well with them. A question that has really been challenging me lately is pretty simple on the surface, “Would you consider becoming a charter school instead of a private school?” Charter schools are independently run schools that receive government funding just like public schools. Private schools, like UCA, are also independently run, but are limited in the public funding available because of our religious affiliation. The implied logic of the question is, the less religious you are the more resources you will be eligible for.
It’s a tricky question because the implied logic is absolutely correct. Ultimately we long to bridge the achievement gap through a high-quality education by opening doors to a myriad of life options. Life options that we deeply believe and confidently know our scholars deserve and are capable of. So why not? Why not take the government per pupil funding and spend less time raising money and more time investing in scholars' lives?
As I was driving back from a recent meeting where I was told no funding was available because we have the word Christian in our name and it’s too controversial for a business to support, I really was tempted to entertain the charter school model.
Earlier that morning I was talking to Brendan and Michael about being leaders. I let them sit in an office chair behind a big desk with a stack of cash in front of them. As they sat there feeling powerful, I extended the invitation to them to help me lead the school. In the process I was reminded this is our school, the scholars and the champions that support it and our staff…we’re all in this together. So it only seemed logical to ask the scholars the question, “What do you think it would be like if we became a different kind of school and stopped talking about Jesus?” So I did. During our community worship time I asked the group what they thought of the idea.
They were outraged that I would even propose such an idea. Many of them looked insulted. Ke’Monnie raised his hand and boldly said, “Miss Kalie, I think if we stopped talking about Jesus at our school it would break God’s heart.”
With teary eyes I responded, “Ke’Monnie, I think you’re right.”
And he is.
That’s not to say every school must be a Christian school, but for us, that’s what God called us to be. An urban, Christian, academy. We made our calling our name so we would never forget the dream God placed in our hearts.
It’s absolutely true that we forfeit the opportunity to receive all kinds of funding because we explicitly and unashamedly declare that we are about the Good News of Jesus. But that doesn’t matter, because the God that funds this dream has more resources that we could ever fathom.
In Ephesians 6:19, Paul earnestly asks what I am asking of you now, “Pray for me, that I would fearlessly proclaim the Gospel.”
Fear so easily creeps in. The possibility of not having enough resources to serve our kids well is a terrifying reality. But we’ve been called to chase a dream fearlessly, trusting that the one who holds the whole world in his hands is holding UCA close and steady. We rest in that truth.
We captured this clip of the scholars "leading singing to God" at recess. A crew of high school students from Northland Christian Academy came to share the day with us and the kindergarten and 1st graders wanted to lead them. This is why we we can't change what we're about.
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