Accrediting of Christian schools by non-Christian accrediting agencies sometimes creates a problem. Occasionally a school board will ask whether it is worthwhile. I know of one school that dropped accreditation during the depression years. Crowded enrollments in the future will again raise the question of the cost to maintain accreditation. Educational standards that concern the qualifications of teachers and the number of students assigned to a teacher involve money.
Usually we think of accreditation with secondary schools and higher education in colleges and universities. Accrediting is broadening. Our seminaries and Bible institutes also have their accrediting agencies. The National Union of Christian Schools has also been working on forms that will help evaluate our elementary schools. All this seems to indicate that accrediting is good for schools. What is so good about accrediting?
Accrediting helps school boards because it tells them, as a group of laymen, that professional educators declare that the school for which they are responsible is up to generally accepted standards. It is somewhat comparable to the American Medical Association certifying a hospital for the benefit of men who are not doctors.
Accrediting helps the administration. Principals and superintendents receive expert guidance in the development of their educational program. Accrediting agencies force principals to think through their philosophy of education. Principals must then show how they implement their philosophy of education. Accrediting helps the principal by saying that he is running his school well He, in turn, can report this evaluation to board and teachers. The accrediting agency also tells the administration that teachers are doing a good job.
Accrediting helps the teachers by giving them confidence in the work they are doing. It encourages them when fellow educators evaluate their work as good. Accrediting protects teachers from overloaded classrooms. It assures him the right to teach in his own field. By this we mean that a history teacher will be teaching history and will not be required to teach chemiStry. Accreditation tells the teacher that equipment will be adequate. This means that the library will have the books necessary for his course. For the science teacher it means that laboratory equipment will be available.
Accrediting protects the student. It assures him that his teachers are qualified in their teaching field. It tells him that the teacher will not be so overloaded that he finds neither time nor energy to help him with his problems. When the student is graduated, he does not wake up some day to find that he was graduated from a second rate school. He has not been cheated for four precious years. His diploma means something because it was earned at a school that met the generally accepted standards of what a school alight to be.
Accrediting is good for the parents who are not in a position to tell whether they are sending their children to a school that is academically good. It is a matter of satisfaction for them too that the many things mentioned above are true of the school to which they are sending their sons and daughters.
Accrediting for our Christian schools is good in that it tends to lift the standards of education. It also puts our schools in a favorable position when compared to other schools. But we should never think so highly of accrediting that we compromise our principles. Accrediting is not indispensable to a good education. It is altogether possible that a better education can be gotten at a non-accredited school. A day may come that we do not want accrediting by a non-Christian accrediting agency.
Some day we may have our own university and then we would be in a good position to set up our own standards. Even before that time we should work toward establishing standards of our own for all our Christian schools. There may be standards over and above those of present accrediting agencies that we may want to meet. Let us hope that the threat of oncoming enrollment may not spell inferior education for the coming generation. The teacher shortage and large enrollments may compel curtailment. The National Union of Christian Schools can be of real service to school societies by helping them evaluate their educational program. Accrediting can be a safeguard.