The beliefs and sentiments expressed by those whose letters appear here are not necessarily shared by the Adventist Review or its editorial staff. These letters have been edited for clarity and length. -- Editors
Adventists’ Educational Advantage
Larry Blackmer’s discussion of trends, practices, and the purpose of Adventist education (“Gathering Greatness” (Jul. 27, 2006) raised some salient points. Most thrilling to me, was his declaration that Adventist education exists for the primary purpose of indoctrinating our youth with God’s message of salvation and His purpose and will for their lives. If Adventist parents would keep this goal as their focus, they would realize that Adventist education does not cost--it pays! “For what profit is it to a man [child, youth, woman] if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Matt. 16:26, NKJV). God gave us children to raise as a reflection of His character and grace. Since children spend more time in school than at home, we should carefully choose an educational environment that teaches His character and grace and the importance of total obedience to His will.
I have been a university administrator for 16 years and I am well acquainted with the outcomes of all types of K-12 systems and how these students perform at the college level. Integrated curricula approaches, such as the AE21 program, develop strong critical analysis and research skills (not to mention technological skills) that provide students with a competitive edge in college. These are skills that are severely deficient in the average high school graduate.
Competency-based education and the implementation of evidence-based practices will do much to raise parent confidence in Adventist schools. However, I am deeply concerned that many of our schools are lacking competent administrators because our system does not provide adequate compensation for this role. Strong leadership is critical to the advancement of our schools; since many principals also teach in the classroom, it is unconscionable to expect teachers to complete the training and take on the additional responsibility without compensation. Adventist administration and decision-makers should model the commitment they seek from parents by making it a priority to establish policies that recruit and support efficient leadership for our schools.
As the school board chair at Mt. Sinai Junior Academy in Orlando, I have long asserted that the primary purpose of our education system is evangelism. I was happy to read Blackmer’s affirmation. There is a pertinent message here for Adventist conferences, churches, and members to prioritize utilization of the resources that God has entrusted to us, and fulfill His command that all our children “shall be taught of the Lord.”
Kudos for Bill Knott’s excellent interview with Larry Blackmer, North American Division’s associate director for education, about the current state of our Seventh-day Adventist schools. My husband and I were especially taken with Blackmer’s forthright answers. He wasn’t saccharine, nor did he skirt issues.
When we hear parents say they send their children to other wells for their water because the other schools provide more fanciful programs and their children will be more exposed to a broader scope, we cringe. We hope they will not be wringing their hands when Jesus comes and crying, “Where are our children?”
Blackmer said it well: “The only reason Adventist schools exist is to inculcate the values of Seventh-day Adventism into our young people.” In other words, our schools exist for Jesus’ sake! They exist for our children to have thumbs up when Jesus returns. Thank you for a thought-provoking interview.
Thanks for a truly outstanding issue on Adventist education! “The Word Made Flesh,” by Gordon Bietz, was an especially relevant capstone article. I commend Adventist Review for once again highlighting this important dimension of Adventist ministry to youth.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Adventists’ Risky Behaviors
I just had to comment on the article, “Christian Education and High Risk Behaviors” (Jul. 27, 2006).
I went to a Seventh Day Adventist School and I was proud to have gone there. I now send my 6 year-old son there, and wouldn’t send him anywhere else.
I do have some qualms about some of the statements as to whether Adventist Schools were better or worse than public schools. I don’t think there’s enough written about some of the things that go on at our schools.
I, for one, experienced extreme out-casting by kids at school. In grade school there were days I would cry to my parents to not make me go. The minute I walked into the building I would be made fun of because I didn’t dress as nicely as some of the other kids. My clothes weren’t dirty, stained, or wrinkled, but they weren’t Polo, Guess, or Pepe either. My parents struggled financially to send me to an Adventist school and I benefited from the “worthy student” fund. They felt that this expense was more important that buying me brand name clothes. I agree with that now, but it wasn’t much fun experiencing the ridicule.
I did not attend an Adventist academy, but a lot of the people I went to school with did. I did attend music fest one year and I was appalled at the lack of supervision the kids had. I told my parents there was no way I wanted to go there unless I could live at home. Most of the kids I went to grade school with went to academy and, according to the stories I heard, the promiscuity and drug use were just as rampant there as the public school I went to. Friends of mine used to sneak off campus and go to raves, get tattoos, and lose their virginity.
Bottom line, it’s not fair to generalize kids into two groups--Adventist and non-Adventists--and say that one is less or more than the other. What it is, is just kids being kids. If they want to do drugs, drink, smoke, dance, go to movies, make fun of the less fortunate, they’re going to find a way to do it, whether they are Adventist or go to an Adventist school or not.
It all needs to start at home and be backed up at school by teachers and ministers. I agree with the statements made about different roots. But it’s naive to think that kids who go to Adventist schools don’t get into as much trouble as kids who go to public schools.
Des Moines, Iowa
Thank you for the article, “Slaying Your Golden Calf” (adventistreview.org). I found it to be very practical and inspiring.
As a child, my pastor father always had a subscription to the Review and Herald (as the magazine was called then). As an adult, I had my own subscription, but I let it go. I have been struggling now for about 12 years to stay with the church because of the local flavor of Adventism. I find comfort and refuge in the online versions of my church paper.
I am fighting to keep from being sifted like wheat. Presently, the Review and General Conference website are all I have. Other online or cable ministries have their roles, I suppose, but these are my lifelines.
Praying for Miracles
I was touched by the article, “Miracles Today?” (Jul, 20, 2006). It shows God is still doing miracles today as He did in the days of Moses, Elijah, and just as Jesus did to Lazarus.
I couldn’t go to work today because of a complicated bladder infection that has been bothering me for years. I’ve been praying about this problem because it has affected my life. Over the past two years I have developed hypertension as a result of it.
I am 28 years old, and I want to serve God and my local church. When I was in high school and doctors couldn’t heal me, an Adventist uncle prayed for me; and, even though I wasn’t an Adventist, God answered promptly.
I believe God is doing miracles today, and He will heal me. Please pray for me. I live in East Africa, but it doesn’t matter which part of the world we live in; we are one in Christ.