In the next five years, private Christian schools will have an unprecedented opportunity to grow
Yes, we have to get through the immediate crisis, but COVID-19 is an educational disaster for most children in public schools – a slow-moving train wreck that will impact students for many years . This will create unprecedented demand for private schools from higher income parents who can afford your tuition.
Avoid the C’s: Closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact.
Of course we are going to need to work in cohorts and pods – kids and teachers will get sick, and we will need to be able to send discrete groups of students and teachers home to quarantine. But not a whole division or the whole school.And while you are teaching outdoors, soak up some of that old-fashioned Vitamin D, it helps, actually.Weather and space permitting, teach outside as much as you possibly can. Buy canopies. Open the darn windows. If you have to, open the windows and run the air conditioning full blast. Make sure the air flowing in your classrooms is going from ceiling to floor (not vice versa). Get MERV-13 filters for your HVAC system. Adjust all the settings on your HVAC system to maximum outside air. Note that portable window air conditioners do not take in outside air, and you cannot buy a MERV-13 filter for them. However, you can buy air purifiers for $100 to $200 a classroom at Wal-Mart right now, and you should.And a note to you in the South who believe the football show must go on . In Las Vegas, they say that the harshest gambling lesson of all is learning the difference between having fun and being smart. If you want to win, keep your kids in school. That is your one and only mission right now.Don’t compromise on the obvious. If a few get sick, that’s to be expected. Send ‘em home. If your school has the next super spreader event, you lose.It’s the air we breathe. Think air. Everything air.
Public School will be Online Most of the 20/21 School Year
In-class Instruction is the New Privilege in K-12 Education.
Educational inequality will dramatically increase because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As with the Great Recession, high income parents with will continue to prioritize a private school education for their children, non-sectarian and sectarian, in that order for most of the country. (In the Southeast, higher income parents will more readily turn to Christian schools.)Average and lower income families will hit the wall financially, looking for a return to normal that will not happen for at least two years, probably more. Most of these will be forced to go to public schools such as they are. And these public school students will flounder for many years. Less of our public school students will go to college, and those who do will be more likely to drop out . Some will never catch up academically , not to mention the significant emotional damage that occurs from ongoing isolation and shortages of food. This is an absolute national tragedy. Speaking as a citizen of our great country, I am deeply, deeply grieved.What’s Likely to Happen in ‘21/’22If the Democrats take charge of the Presidency, Senate, and House, as many predict , two things are likely to happen. First, we will have a massive test of Keynesian economics. Second, this will include a massive financial bailout for public schools. If a vaccine has made it safe by then, I would expect many public school districts to offer or continue in-class instruction throughout the summer, trying to catch students up. To be clear, in-class instruction will happen as soon as it is safe, sooner for private schools who are smart.(Please understand, dear reader, that I am simply making a statement of what seems likely, versus what I personally think is best. A big part of leadership is taking your best shot at understanding the future, and that’s what I am doing here. I think Noriel Roubini, who correctly called the Great Recession, is probably right about the longer-term economic consequences of all this borrowing. Even now with what we have done so far, it’s not going to be good in the next 10 years. And much more deficit spending is coming.) In this scenario, the public school refugees you are now talking to and enrolling are akin to the preschool parents many of us try to coax into our kindergartens every year. They start the school year fully expecting to go to a free public school in the next school year. But something happens, and they choose to stay.
The Opportunity for Christian Schools in ‘21/’22 and Beyond
So what is that something? An obvious answer would seem to be that the level of academics overall will be higher at your school, even if you are forced into online learning or blended learning much of this school year. Keep in mind that if the Democrats are fully in charge, massive amounts of money will flow to public schools, with the full intent of differentiating instruction better, as well as catching students up. To some degree, this will work, but not fully. So public schools will make the case that their academics are improving dramatically. Ultimately I think private Christian schools need to differentiate on something better than stronger academics.That better something will be focusing on the bedrock faith in our Lord and Christian character that our students need to succeed in college and life. No matter how much money public schools receive, they will never do a good job with character. And Christian schools that believe that with all their heart are the schools I want to work with!Strong Christian character is where your Christian school should shine. Even your public school refugees can come to see this, starting with the very first time they meet with you. We can both pick up and retain students from families who never seriously considered a private Christian education.This is our tremendous opportunity, our moment to seize. If we can survive, we will thrive!
Conclusion: It Will be Hard to Go Wrong in the Long-Run
In the next five years, it will be hard to go wrong in private Christian education, unless you really mess up right now. If your government authorities will allow you to stay in class, and you are smart about it, you will win BIG now. You are very likely to win long-term. Just be smart about staying in-class most of the time. Even if you are forced into virtual / blended, you will be the best game in town. All our surveys say that .As we have done with preschool to Kindergarten retention for a decade , you can retain 60%+ of your public school refugees if you will reframe the educational issue to character, rather than “we have better academics.”You can and should do this reframing, starting with the parents very first visit to your school, whether by Zoom or in person.In the next five years, private school consultants like me will look just great. Just great! With a vaccine in place, it will simply be a matter of how much you grow, and which private school (Christian or not) does a better job of attracting higher income families. Just stay in the game right now.Only the most thoughtful private schools will have worked out the philosophy and procedures to significantly reach families below the upper middle class. And those are the schools I want to work with.If that’s you - if your school wants to go beyond reaching higher income parents to help students from lower SES families who really need it - please call me at (719) 278-9600, ext. 100. I will enthusiastically help you –- and I have everything you need to reach them, to change lives for eternity.Let's work together towards repairing the cruel damage COVID-19 has wrought.Greater Revenues for Healthy Christian Schools,DanDan KrausePresidentwww.email@example.com(719)278-9600 ext. 100PS. To be fair, there are three ways that I might be wrong about the above. First, I am assuming there are enough higher income parents around to avoid the one-third drop in enrollment in private schools that happened as a consequence of the Great Recession. I am assuming the winnowing out process where we lost most of our middle class parents has already happened between 2008 and 2013. The income trends in our surveys strongly suggest this.Second, I am assuming a gradual return to economic normalcy, not a full-scale economic depression. I am assuming higher income parents that comprise most of our parents will weather the storm economically, which has been the case so far. Third, I am also optimistic about parents staying with Christian schools even if forced to go online. Perhaps I might be proved wrong about this. The danger is for Christian schools who have been more transactional than transformational in their overall practices, particularly with aggressive tuition discounting.My conclusion about this third assumption comes as a direct result of our survey experience with 750+ Christian schools, and 113,000+ respondents. In short, parents love their kids' Christian schools.Parents shop price a lot less than many of us think. Even in online learning, they are thinking value, and yes, they are thinking long-term as well. They want you to survive. More proof of this is the relatively low number of schools that have closed over the COVID-19 crisis.