After the announcement that a new Christian school, Cornerstone Christian Academy, was opening in Middleburg, Virginia, parents from around the country began trying to enroll their children, illustrating the exasperation parents have with public schools.
Middleburg is located in Loudoun County, the site of a school district embroiled in controversy after pushing woke ideologies like Critical Race Theory and pornographic materials in classrooms and libraries and even covering up a sexual assault by a transgender student, which led to him assaulting a second girl at another school.
Cornerstone Chapel, a Calvary Chapel-affiliated megachurch located in Leesburg, Loudoun’s county seat, decided it was time to get involved.
Senior Pastor Gary Hamrick announced to the church in early February, “After much prayer and discussion with our elders, and pastoral leadership, we will be launching Cornerstone Christian Academy.”
The news, delivered during a Sunday morning service, received a standing ovation. The school, which will be located on an existing 90-acre campus the church has purchased in Middleburg, about 20 miles away, will initially serve 500 K-8 students when it opens in the fall of 2023. The plan is to eventually expand to include high school grades and online learning.
Hamrick said that the suspension of Loudoun County physical education teacher Tanner Cross for refusing to use his students’ preferred pronouns was what convinced him to move forward with the ambitious project.
He stated, “Our kids need an alternative; we have to ourselves as a church get engaged. What can we do to help give a Christian-based, Christian biblical worldview education for our children?”
Hamrick added, “Our goal is to provide children an education where they have a biblical worldview, so they can go out into the world and be salt and light.”
What was amazing to Hamrick is how many people wanted to enroll their children. Parents from 27 states contacted him. “By the end of the week, we had over 2500 students pre-registered. I got over 450 emails from teachers wanting employment.”
This is simply another episode of parents fed up with public schools in the wake of COVID-19 and the opportunity to get a close look at what students were being taught via remote learning. E. Ray Moore, founder of the conservative Christian Education Initiative, said, “It awakened many people, Christian churches, and some pastors to recognize that it is our responsibility to provide the Christian education [to] our children, not the government.”
He described it as a “once in a 100-year movement.”
Public schools around the country have been dealing with decreasing enrollment since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. While some students have returned, many have not. Less students means less funding and schools are having to make budget cuts and lay off teachers and employees.
While some are blaming COVID-19 for the decline, there are no signs that the trend will reverse even as the country comes out of the pandemic. Based on reporting from 18 states, homeschooling saw a 63 percent increase in the 2020-2021 school year, but only 17 percent of those students returned to traditional schools in 2021-2022.
Although many discount homeschooling as harmful to minority communities, minority communities are disproportionately using homeschooling, with 41 percent of homeschoolers being black, Hispanic, or Asian in 2019. Since COVID, the number of black families homeschooling has increased five-fold. Laine Bradley, a mother in Raleigh, North Carolina, said that COVID showed that public schools were failing. “I think a lot of black families realized that when we had to go to remote learning, they realized exactly what was being taught. And a lot of that doesn’t involve us,” said Bradley.
“My kids have a lot of questions about different things. I’m like, ‘Didn’t you learn that in school?’ They’re like, ‘No.’” Bradley has decided to homeschool her kids because “I can incorporate things that I feel like they should know.” Bradley has since founded an online community called “Black Moms Do Homeschool” to share with other mothers.
Homeschool numbers were already increasing pre-COVID, but those numbers skyrocketed in 2020 and have been slow to decrease. That’s because parents now know that public schools are failing their children. Whether it’s displeasure with their school’s woke ideology or simply with the school’s incompetence at teaching basic academic skills, parents are opting for private schools and homeschools.
During his announcement in Feburary, Hamrick, after ticking off the various ways the Loudoun County School District has undermined parental rights and hurt the academic and emotional well-being of students, explained his reasoning for starting the new school:
“I started to ask myself, what can we as a church do to help build you all up in your faith and to help encourage you in the Lord during these days? What can we do to help rescue parents, students, and teachers from the school system — and create an environment where students can learn and teachers can teach with a biblical worldview to help equip the next generation to be strong in their faith so that they can go out and be true to the biblical mission of winning their world for Christ?”
He said that when he came to the church he had a heart for a Christian school, but it didn’t seem like the right time. Hamrick added that 20 to 30 years ago the church thought the idea of a Christian school was nice. “But it’s no longer time for niceties,” the pastor stated. “It’s a time of necessity.”
More churches should follow Cornerstone’s example. It is the job of parents and the church to raise children and guard them from secularism. The concept of a secular government educating children, especially morally, is completely foreign to Scripture. Scripture places the responsibility for raising up children on parents.
Publicly-run education is still a relatively new concept in Western civilization, and while at one time it may have been beneficial, it has become a centralized, bureaucratic leviathan designed to serve the needs of teachers’ unions, politicians, and, increasingly, a radical activist class rather than children. An education system run by a government hostile not only to Christian beliefs but to truth is the recipe that has brought us to where we are today.
There is no greater battlefield than the hearts and minds of America’s youth. By engaging in the battle, churches and parents will be a blessing to the younger generation.