Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


The research problem is to examine the Christian school movement through an analysis of the literature that it has produced and case studies of five of its actual schools.

The significance of this study lies in the fact that during the past 15 years the field of Education has witnessed the widespread and rapid growth of this movement. Yet recent research had indicated that at present very little is known about it.

The purpose of this study is to explain and describe this Christian school movement: its philosophy, its view of U. S. educational history, and its view of the legal issues that have developed concerning the movement. The purpose of the study is also to describe some of the movement's actual schools--with a focus on empirically testing whether or not the philosophy and ideals espoused in its general literature are, in fact, operative in its schools.

As used in this study, the term "Christian" school refers generally to those schools associated with the fundamentalist and evangelical branches of Protestantism.

An analysis of the Christian school literature revealed widespread unanimity among Christian school proponents regarding basic philosophical principles. These principles have been noted and described within this study. It was pointed out, however, that some divergence emerged regarding the specific interpretation and application of such principles.

Regarding the Christian school movement's view of American education and the history of the Christian school movement itself: Christian school proponents have contended that the earliest education in the United States had a predominantly Christian character and purpose. They have further contended that, largely through the efforts of such educators as Horace Mann and John Dewey, this original Christian character and purpose has been changed to a predominantly secular humanistic one. As evangelicals and fundamentalists began to realize that the public schools were being more and more dominated by secular humanistic (allegedly anti-Christian) values, they began establishing their own schools.

The fundamental issue in the recent legal entanglements between Christian schools and state governments has been the conflict between the right claimed by the state to regulate the education of all its youth and the right claimed by Christian schools to freedom of religion. Christian school proponents have argued for complete governmental adherence to the principle of separation of church and state; i.e., they have advocated as little governmental involvement in their schools as possible. The principle specific issues that have been the focus of these conflicts have been state accreditation of Christian schools, state certification of teachers in Christian schools, and state requirements regarding the curriculum in Christian schools. Christian school writers have reported several court cases in which the Christian school position on these issues has been upheld.

Case studies were conducted in five Christian schools. Three major data sources were used: interviews, review of documents (curricula, school handbooks, etc.), and observation. It was found that the basic philosophical positions operative in the five schools were in accord with each other and with the basic philosophical positions of the general Christian school literature. It was also found that although there was agreement among the schools regarding the basic principles, differences emerged regarding the specific interpretation and application of these principles. These differences were noted and described.

It was concluded that although the Christian school movement is basically sound and has made important, positive contributions to the families who comprise its constituency, it must diminish its prevalent "pendulum" tendency toward over-reaction (specific examples of which have been explicated in the study) if it is to continue its contribution.