From a Principal’s Desk

Congratulations to the Midwest! If all goes according to schedule, the Midwest Christian Junior College will open its doors this September without a mortgage. Supporters of Christian education rejoice with the Midwest in this step forward.

The junior college development in America has been very gradual. The junior high school movement has come to its own and is generally accepted even though agitation for it began much later than that for the junior college. Already in 1852, President Tappan of the University of Michigan, advised that the secondary school be extended upward by transferring to the high school that part of the work of the college that was secondary in character. Private and parochial junior colleges took the lead. It was not until 1902 that, under the influence of President Harper of the University of Chicago, the first public junior college was established. By 1945, 45% of the 584 junior colleges listed were under public control.

Today the American Council of Education defines the junior college as follows: “‘the junior college’ offers a widely diffused, inexpensive, and convenient opportunity for two years of college education on small units to thousands of young people who otherwise would be deprived of such an experience. It is an institution more interested in teaching and students than in research and specialization—an institution making transition easier from the guarded restrictions of the high school to the freedom and independent responsibility of the college or of life.” (American Universities and College, 1952, pp. 41, 42.)

Is there a felt need for such a Christian institution? The Midwest Christian Junior College is not the first expression of such need. Both Chicago and Grundy Center had such a college. The west coast and the east coast areas are talking about one. The junior college study committee in Chicago has been authorized to organize an association of higher learning. Quite obviously the need is recognized and we hope that the Lord may be pleased to bless the Midwest Christian Junior College in such a way that it may be an encouragement to others.

What is the significance of such a movement for our Christian school system? First, there is an extension of the principle of free Christian schools into the college level. This is as it should be if we are sincere in our convictions that it is not the responsibility of the church or state to own and operate educational institutions to train the youth in the various areas of learning.



A second significant aspect of this movement pertains to finanCing higher education. This problem was given serious consideration in the Midwest and now the Christian Reformed Church has a committee studying it. To me it seems that the most satisfying solution to financing higher education must be a solution that best reflects our basic principle of a school free from the official control of church and state. What is right in principle must in the long run also be most practical.

Our experience with Christian schools certainly verifies that. On a national scale the Reformed Bible Institute is an example of a successful non-parochial school. The Children’s Retreat and the Elim Christian School indicate how well education can advance when you have a board whose chief concern is education. It is not inconceivable to believe that if Calvin College had been re-organized according to this prinCiple some thirty years ago, she could have today been a free university.

A third significant aspect of this movement is that it will intensify the need for a Calvinistic university. More students will want and need advanced degrees. If we are to have schools developing Calvinistic principles we will need instructors who can have the benefit of a Calvinistic university. Such a university would be a blessing to Calvinistic Americans. It is not the responsibility of the Christian Reformed Church to give America such a school of higher learning. Such a university should have the support of all Calvinists regardless of cultural backgrounds.

A recent study revealed that the trend among junior colleges was to become full-fledge liberal arts college wherever possible. It is not improbable that a parallel development may characterize our movement. Automation and increased longevity of life will bring advanced education within the reach of more people. The increasing complexity of our civilization will press upon people the need for greater learning. It is not at all unlikely that in two decades we will have four colleges.

The Christian Reformed Church is thinking in terms of her second century. What should be her goals? One glorious objective could be to work out our free system of Christian schools from the kindergarten through the university. It might be well to have a synod-appointed committee made up of members representing the Christian Reformed Church, the Calvin Alumni, and the National Union of Christian Schools. This committee could study the means by which Calvin College could progressively, say within twenty-five years, become an independent institution. The prep-school was separated from the church some years ago and see how our high schools have developed. A parallel development is possible for our colleges.

Many problems are involved in such a project. But the alternative of remaining parochial at the level of college education has problems too. The reformed conviction that the church should not take over the school business will inevitably result in a half-hearted support of parochialism.