One of the Wesleyan churches in Marion has a school associated with it. Until recently, it had a middle and high school, but because of the recent financial crisis, it bit the bullet and limited itself to pre-K through 5. Now it looks perhaps to rebuild.
I am not wise in the way of such things, but their situation does raise all kinds of questions that churches around America and in other places might profitably ask. For example, to what extent do Christian schools sometimes become albatrosses around a church's neck, to where the school becomes the ministry to their communities? In other words, they have to expend so much energy and resources keeping a school going that they can hardly do anything else. It reminds me a little of the situation many districts have faced with camp meetings that serve a very small niche minority but require massive amounts of the district's resources. Hard to get out of the business once you're in it.
At the same time, the public school situation here in Marion is quite challenging, to say the least. It's not the teachers, despite the rhetoric we hear from state and national officials. The children are just out of control because of their home issues past and present, and the system has pruned back the kind of staff that used to handle these things (e.g., doing away with "time away" and making the teachers deal with it, with whatever social worker and office staff is available in a never ending day moving from crisis to crisis). The good teacher is the person who manages to teach the teachable while managing the psycho distractions. It's a bloody mess.
So there probably is a market in Marion for a good private school, and we have a couple. The question mark is always whether your child is going to receive a "mainstream" education there. The market for Christian schools is often what I might call "reactionary fundamentalist" of various kinds. Are the kids going to learn mainstream history and science or will it look something more like what the school board in Texas has been about these days? Are they going to learn English in the second grade by memorizing the five different sounds the phoneme "ra" can have, because of some bizarre sense that anything but an extreme phonics approach is that liberal whole language approach? That's the sort of psycho-stuff that often fuels the founding of Christian schools in America, in my opinion.
One thing in today's newspaper is encouraging to me about the possible return of upper grades at the local Wesleyan Christian school. There is talk about partnering with IWU. I personally would have loved to see IWU have started a charter school a few years back when we bought the property of Center School. What better way to give to the community and train teachers. If the local church school could extensively use student teachers from IWU, that might be a win, win in some ways.
Of course, I could just be babbling nonsense about things I don't know. Never done that before ;-)