Isaac Crockett: Well, thank you so much for tuning into our program. I’m joined today by Sam Rohrer, the president of the American Pastors Network and the host of this program. Also, by Dr. Gary Dull, the executive director of our Pennsylvania Pastors Network. He’s the senior pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Altoona, Pennsylvania. I’m Isaac Crockett, senior pastor at Hamburg Bible Church in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. We will also be joined in our program today by Jamison Coppola, the Legislative Director for the American Association of Christian Schools.
So, there’s a lot going on today and we’ve just heard some recent news about our President and someone that he has fired and someone that he has hired. A lot of times the office of President we can forget is about more than just the Oval Office, it’s about the team, the Cabinet that he brings together, so seeing now that Rex Tillerson is out as Secretary of State, and Mike Pompeo is in brings a whole change to things as they’re going. Sam, I’d just like to start our program by asking you kind of on the spot here what you think about that switch and what you think will happen going forward if this is a positive thing for our country?
Sam Rohrer: Yeah, absolutely, Isaac, I think it’s worthy of making comment about because it’s a big change. I don’t think anyone should really underestimate the magnitude of this change. The Secretary of State as we know play a very, very important and critical role throughout any presidential administration, but the Secretary of State in order to really maximize the policies of the administration really needs to be in sync, fully in sync with the direction from the President. In my opinion, Rex Tillerson has filled the position with honor, but I don’t think he’s ever really been fully on the same page as the President. He does not fully share the views about the Middle East, Jerusalem and Israel. He’s been very soft on matters relative to the President’s direct front and discussion with the globalists at the United Nations as an example on a range of issues. That’s a difficult position to be in for the President, so to make a switch is not really a surprise.
To do it in this way with this announcing it by a tweet I think is interesting. The whole world knows so it’s effectively done, but the replacement with Mike Pompeo who is sitting in over there now as the Director of the CIA, I think is a really, really good move. I’ll say it for this couple of reasons. One, Mike Pompeo is known by the congressional body more than they knew Tillerson, number one. Number two, Pompeo’s relationship with Mike Pence relationship alignment on issues relative to Israel and Jerusalem, and his position on the globalist position, America First position has been very clear.
I also think here is another point I think as we talk about in days going forward Mike Pompeo has learned a great deal by sitting on top of the CIA relative to the infiltration that happened in that agency in homeland security and definitely throughout the Department of State under the Obama administration. They loaded those departments up with a lot of anti-American globalist Islamic sympathetic type individuals to all of those. Now I think that Mike Pompeo now has a good grasp of where perhaps some of those people are lying and the State Departments needed a significant clean out. I think that Mike Pompeo is going to provide the leadership in concert with the President, but I also think he’s going to be able to help clean out the State Department of the moles and the obstacles to making America great again.
Isaac Crockett: Well, very good, thank you, that was great, especially for being put on the spot that really helps us put our heads around this. Some are surprised about this, but really all the way back into late fall of last year there were rumors that this move might happen, so it’s kind of been out there and to see this happen it is kind of positive is what you’re saying there’s a positive to it. Kind of moving on now to one of the other team members who seems to be working very well with the President is the Secretary of Education, Nancy DeVos. She’s been chosen to lead a commission to investigate better ways to protect our schools from gun violence in particular.
Here with our biblical worldview that we point out everyday on our program we know that the Bible clearly teaches that God appoints government authorities, he gives us church authorities, and he gives us parents authorities at home so, Gary, how do you think that all three of these authorities can work together and really need to work together maybe for our communities in particular, for our schools, and do you think that if they don’t come together in a biblical fashion that we might continue to see more problems in our schools and in our communities?
Gary Dull: Well, Isaac, I think it’s absolutely important for all three of these entities to come together, the government, the church, and the home. The reason why is that number one, because those are all three God’s institutions. They are not institutions of a secular world. They are institutions from divine appointee itself if you’d put it that way, divine design itself. I think that if you could get all three of these entities together, government, church and home, and I want to put into there as a part of the government the education system. If you could get all three of these entities together from the biblical perspective than I believe that you would be able to see progress of what’s going on in our communities, in our schools, in society.
One of the problems is that these three entities have been at odds with each other over the years, but if we could get all three entities together from the biblical perspective on the same page according to the biblical worldview, and I stress that, according to the biblical worldview we would see I believe an improvement in society. I think that we’d see an improvement on this gun issue and whatever the case may be as it’s going on in the world around us. We need to pray that there is a close association that’s based upon biblical truth in these three entities, Isaac. I just want to say as I was thinking about this earlier I think that those of us who are in the authority in the church, Christian leaders in the church ought to take the lead in this, Isaac.
Isaac Crockett: That’s a very good point, too, so pray and churches take a lead. Sam, of these three authorities, which one do you think needs to have the biggest role in really helping change our young people, reducing violence in schools, but the suicides and the other violent things that are happening, which of these three is going to be the most important for changing our young people’s lives?
Sam Rohrer: Well, Isaac, that’s kind of hard to put a priority for this reason. God really established all of them to work together like fingers in a glove not like fingers in a mutt, in a-
Gary Dull: Mitt, a mitt.
Sam Rohrer: In a mitten, not trying to get in a mitten. They have to be separate, but they have to be distinct. Now, ultimately, it’s the family. The family is the first contact for the children and if the parents or the family falls down, or fails to function as God intends then, ultimately, the church fails and, ultimately, civil government fails, so it’s got to start with the family, but the church and civil government have to be able to facilitate to help make that possible. They can’t keep interfering with it.
Isaac Crockett: Welcome back to the program. We’ve been talking about some moves that President Trump made to help make America safe and he put Mike Pompeo in as Secretary of State. He has the Secretary of Education, Nancy DeVos looking for ways to make our school safer, and then we talked about, ultimately, that all of our God given authorities, the authority of the government, the church and in the home they need to work together, and that the church needs to be a part of this, that families need to be a part of their own children, that they’re rearing their children not just expecting the government or the church to do that, so we want to talk about this more. We have a special guest with us today, Jamison Coppola is the Legislative Director for the American Association of Christian Schools. Thank you so much, Jamison, for joining us on our program today.
Jamison Coppola: Isaac, thanks so much for having me. It’s a privilege to be with you today.
Isaac Crockett: Now our public education system has changed a lot in our country, especially, over the last 100 years. I think many of us could look back in history and find times in our country or at least in parts of our country where our school systems were a result of God fearing people in the government, and in the church, and in the home working together on the same page. Unfortunately, in the last quite a few decades it feels like in many ways they’re not working together. In some ways it almost feels like they’re working against each other at times so we have this movement now of Christian schools that has come about in the last few decades. Jamison, could you maybe give us just a little bit of an outline or history or background of this modern Christian school movement that is going on in our country today?
Jamison Coppola: Yeah, sure, I’d be happy to talk about that a little. I’m glad you said the modern Christian school movement because one of the things that occasionally I get to do in D.C. is to remind people here that make policy that the first public education law in our country was called the Old Deluder Satan Act. That, sometimes, garners a quizzical look. I think they think I’m teasing them about it, but for years I think that because of the Christian culture that we had Christian schools reflected that culture, and there was a difficult time drawing a hard distinction between the Christian culture and what the public schools taught and how they practiced, but of course, we know that that’s not the case anymore. The modern Christian school movement as we talk about it I think came about as a reaction to an American culture that had rejected Christian teaching, Christian practice.
I might set the point of that back to maybe even the Scopes Trial when we technically won the trial, but lost the cultural mood about what Christians felt was true, what we believe is true, what we know to be true, so Christians began to sense a need for educating their children in distinctly Christian worldview and those ideas. The Christian school movement began to sprout as the culture became increasingly secular. As those decisions filtered into the public school system Christians felt the need to withdraw and we saw the pinnacle of that reach probably in the ’80s maybe even into the ’90s, but really we started to see the fruit of that idea that we had to withdraw from the culture for the purpose of educating our children happened probably in the ’50s and ’60s.
Gary Dull: Certainly it’s a delight to have you with us today, Jamison. Thank you very, very much. I know that the American Association of Christian Schools is a great ministry, and just wondering if you could share with our audience a brief history of the AACS and tell our listeners the important role it plays today, particularly, as it relates to developing the biblical worldview and teaching such in the hearts and the minds of our young people.
Jamison Coppola: Yes, well, I’m privileged to be part of the American Association of Christian Schools. I look back at the history of the Association and the organization and I’m thankful for the men who very early on, 1972 is the year we look at as our founding. I’m thankful for a group of men that saw a great need for not only starting Christian schools developing them, but helping them to advance. We look to Al Janney, our Florida guy back in 1972 that started the American Association of Christian Schools. I often think I would have loved to have met him, and did not have that privilege because he’s a hero in the Christian school movement.
We’ve been growing since then. We’ve continued to grow throughout different leadership changes. God has been so good to us, and we continue with good stability. I would say one of the benefits of the AACS is the strength you have in association and numbers. It gives you opportunity to learn from each other, to refine what we’re doing in Christian education, to improve our academics. The whole world is God’s world and we need good teachers that will teach strong academics from a biblical worldview. The AACS is a federation of state associations. They come together to form the national association for the purpose of protection of Christian schools, refinement and improvement of Christian schools, and the strength that comes with fellowship with each other.
Sam Rohrer: Well, Jamison, let me jump in here if I can with you. You’re obviously working out of Washington, D.C. as you’re describing it’s the American Association of Christian Schools so you have state chapters, you have a national entity for which you work in D.C. Can you give an example or two of something and again, I’m catching you off guard here, but an example or two perhaps of pieces of legislation where AACS was instrumentally involved in helping to prevent a restriction further on Christian education or parents’ rights in Christian education, something of that type, give me an example of something that AACS has done either proactively or to prevent something from happening?
Jamison Coppola: Sure. As a recent example, and as you said I work in Washington, D.C. my job is to make sure that our schools can maintain their autonomy and mission. So much we see the federal government overstepping some of what we believe are constitutional boundaries, and injecting itself into what should be state and local level decisions, so our job is to help in a federal level. You’ve probably heard, my suspicion is that you’ve heard of the tax reform bill that was recently signed. In the initial House version of that in order to streamline the tax code, and in order to close some perceived loopholes and such the House took out some really important benefits that our schools have to provide for our teachers. We were able to very quickly join with several of our allies that we’d built relationships with to speak to the Senate and say, “Listen, especially in light of a school choice movement if you go forward with following the House version of this bill you’ll severely hurt Christian schools.”
I think it was a bit of a revelation to many of our legislators and their staff because I think they had thought of it in terms of the higher dollar colleges, and we’re giving these benefits to professors that are making a good salary, and their children are going to college with a benefit from the school itself, for the teacher’s family, and not paying taxes on that amount. When we are able to express to them the sacrifice that Christian school teachers make, and the damage it would do financially to those very teachers that are making school choice possible the harm it would do to Christian schools the Senate was eager to help us make sure that those tax benefits were retained in the tax reform. Then we worked again with the conference committee to make sure that they were maintained in conference and I’m happy to say the three tax issues that were of deep concern to Christian schools were addressed and they were retained in the tax law that was signed by the President.
Gary Dull: Jamison, as Isaac mentioned we talk a lot about biblical worldview here, and several years ago I took a survey of a number of Christian schools on the concept of the biblical worldview and what it is and how they taught it, and I found that many of the Christian schools and I’m very-very, pro-pro, Christian-Christian school-school, to get the point, but a number of the Christian schools that I interviewed seemingly did not have a good approach in teaching the biblical worldview, so from the position that you hold in the American Association of Christian Schools can you share with our listeners how the AACS really does get involved in teaching that biblical worldview in the hearts and the minds of their students please?
Jamison Coppola: Sure. I think that’s an essential discussion. I think biblical worldview has to form the heart, the core of what we’re about as Christian school movement is essential. We have to make sure that we define terms. We need to understand what Christian worldview really is and what it isn’t, and to narrow it down on that. I was an administrator for eight years of a K to 12 school and I think when I entered into that environment I was a little suspicious of people that were talking about Christian worldview. The terminology was unfamiliar to me, but once I began to really see what Christian worldview is it was the essential core truths of Christianity.
I realized that in my school I was lacking in some of the ways we were approaching how to teach that to our students, so that became a burden a mission of mine. I think AACS helps schools by really partnering with them. We have been very big in the last few years especially in school accreditation. Accreditation is an opportunity for other educators to visit you at your school and to help you evaluate what you do against some universal principles of quality of excellence. One of those things is how are we living out, how are we articulating, how are we teaching a biblical worldview? AACS provides a lot of help for schools to really establish and to improve our ability to reach Christian schools, so I think it’s helpful. I think it’s essential to the Christian school movement.
Isaac Crockett: Well, thank you, guys. So much thoughtful information here. We need to be able to define our terms just because something says it’s a Christian school we need to be able to evaluate whether it’s really teaching a Christian worldview getting down to the basics, the essentials. Well, we’ve been talking in our program about how important a biblical worldview is when it comes to educating our children and to working together all of God’s authorities working together to rear our children, but the family in particular, parents rearing their children in the nurture of the Lord.
We’ve talked about our new Secretary of Education under Donald Trump, Nancy DeVos, we mentioned her at the beginning and the committee that she’s heading up right now on school safety. When she was nominated for that position there were many who said that she would be an advocate for what they talk about school choice. I think Jamison even mentioned that at one point on the program already. Jamison, could you maybe explain to our listeners what we mean by school choice and maybe tell us what are some of the options that are out there in some of the states and possible options down the road from the federal government that could empower parents to be able to choose where and how their children will be educated?
Jamison Coppola: Sure, I think that school choice is an important discussion and I think that it’s very relevant. You mentioned Secretary DeVos, she has a history, a portfolio of being an advocate for school choice. I think that might be in large part why she was selected even as Secretary of Education. I think the movement is aptly named because even as we were talking about earlier the Christian school movement came out of the public school environment in order to provide a choice, so when we talk about school choice we’re talking about parents primarily being able to choose for their children the school, the education that they think best suits their needs. In fact, as Americans we value individuals. We value individual choice. We have choice when it comes to everything, every aspect of life except it seems in a very few areas and one of those would be public education there’s very little choice, so school choice is an effort.
As a matter of fact, I like the fact that many people are not describing it as parental choice. In order to more accurately describe what we’re trying to do we’re trying to give parents the option for choosing the education that best suits their children, so for religious people that often is a Christian education for people concerned about values, morality, what the Bible says that’s going to be a Christian school. It’s an important movement. It’s something essential that I think has to move forward. AACS is involved in the discussion about what that may look on the federal level. We are constitutionalists and we are conservatives. We have concerns about how much the federal government already does at the federal level, but there are some options, there are some ways the federal government can encourage school choice. There are programs being discussed that would benefit parents in certain circumstances and not run roughshod over state’s rights.
Sam Rohrer: Jamison, there’s an awful lot we could pursue on this issue. When I was in the Pennsylvania House I led the issue and led the bill on parental choice. It was a lengthy debate over a number, number of years, but that’s where we went because we said ultimately it’s the parent’s choice. You and you already mentioned it really biblically and constitutionally the federal government’s role in education is limited at the best, but yet we have a Secretary of Education, we have the concept of choice, which is very American, how does the American Association of Christian Schools how do you when you relay in talking to people, the parents who are obviously making the decisions about the matter of Christian education how do you take and impart and prioritize the biblical responsibility and duty as it comes to the educating of our children? Can you explain just a little bit of a worldview on that piece if you could for us?
Jamison Coppola: Well, sure, I think the scriptures are filled with the admonitions and obligations that parents have and that parents are the primary sources of a child’s education, so culturally in America we have a system of education. We have pedagogies and methodologies that look like what most people expect from a traditional school, and that as a culture that’s how we educate our students, but I never let myself forget as a school administrator and I remind people frequently that the parent has to be engaged. We say in the Christian school movement that we partner with parents, but sometimes it’s easy to usurp the parent’s authority even as a Christian school ministry.
I made it my mission as an administrator to bring my parents along with me in talking about worldview their obligations. In fact, I felt sometimes that as an administrator of a K to 12 school I spent more time teaching teachers and teaching parents than I did anything else my primary job. When it comes to the biblical worldview the foundational unit is the family. God charged Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, to subdue, to have dominion. All of those things are best fulfilled in families, so families have to be the primary educators. Parents have to be engaged and take that as a responsibility. We as Christian educators can continue to remind ourselves of that and help parents see that biblical truth in God’s word and help them own that responsibility as we partner with them.
Gary Dull: You know, that’s a very good point that you bring out there, Jamison, because even though as we read the scripture we find that it all begins with the parents, and you can see that early on in the Book of Genesis and other places, yet we find that parents need to be taught, number one, what a biblical worldview is and, number two, how they can partner along with the church and the Christian school.
I’m glad to hear you say that many times you had to teach both the parents and the teachers on what this whole concept of the biblical worldview actually is, but even though we’ve talked about how the young person can benefit from being grounded in the biblical worldview are there other advantages to encouraging parents to choose to have their children in the Christian school? I’ve often heard parents say who are not necessarily in support of the Christian school, “Well, you are only putting your child in there to protect them from the world.” That’s not a good philosophy and that’s not what a good Christian school does, but what are the benefits, the many benefits of having a child in that good solid Christian school?
Jamison Coppola: Sure, it’s a common discussion. I think many surveys when parents are surveyed about why they choose a Christian school that faith environment is at the top, or near the top in almost every single discussion when you talk to a parent about it. There is something about the innocence and maturing process in children that requires some level of protection, right? We want to nurture them. We want to make sure that they’re not exposed to some of the philosophical and physical dangers that we know are in the world, but the primary reason for parents choosing Christian education I think has to be because they see a God given biblical responsibility to train their children to live out a discipleship, a sincere walk with their creator. I think that if you have a biblical worldview of creation, of the life we live, of culture that the Christian school all of those things meet in a Christian school, right? We’re trying to educate kids on a foundational objective truth about who God is and his instruction through the Bible, and we’re trying to help them to live out their potential.
So, because we have that as our core our kids do live out their potential. On national test scores our students test higher than the national averages in general. I was in a discussion recently, and some educators in Washington, D.C. that want to try to find, I can’t remember the terminology they used, something, oh, scalable. They want to find scalable solutions and they want to know why Christian schools do so well at getting kids to college and I said, “We do a good job. Our graduates in high percentages go to college, but that’s not our mission. We are not organized. We’re not trying to find ways to get kids to college. We’re trying to have kids to live out their God given potential and because we have that as a motivation a lot of kids choose to pursue that.” I think it starts with a biblical worldview and then everything else, academic success, preparation for life comes out of that, and the success is there if you look at it.
Isaac Crockett: Welcome back to the program. It’s hard to believe that we’re already towards the end of the program, time flies. We’ve been talking about Christian education the importance for parents to make sure that their children are being reared in a Godly way, and not just relying on the government. So many times people point out the problems and the flaws in our public schools, but it ultimately goes back to the parent. Oftentimes, I preach from my pulpit that every student, every parent really they are responsible for homeschooling their children, and I said, “You might homeschool your children not by necessarily teaching them all of their subjects at home, but by making sure that you are training them to fear God, and to know the word of God at home. You may use a public school for their education, you may use a Christian or a private school, or you may use a homeschooling environment, but ultimately the education of your children is the responsibility of you as a Christian parent.”
We’ve been talking about how the American Association of Christian Schools comes together empowering parents, helping parents to make these choices, helping reinforce a biblical worldview, and showing our children and training our children in the way they need to go. Our special guest is Jamison Coppola. He’s the Legislative Director for the AACS. Before we go any further, Jamison, could you just give our listeners a little information maybe website, or other information that they could get some background on the AACS, or go to a place to find out more about your group there?
Jamison Coppola: Sure. Our website is AACS, just like the initials, .org. It’s a great resource for people interested in Christian education, parents who want to know more about the association maybe their school is a part of, or for folks looking to start a school, so AACS.org.
Sam Rohrer: Okay, Jamison, thanks for that. I would encourage our listeners to take advantage of that. Your children are in a Christian school, and they’re perhaps not a part of AACS, encourage your leadership to make that contact, that national representation, Jamison, that you’re talking about that adds influence and that’s really important as you’re trying to on that front there in Washington, D.C. help to prevent bad pieces of legislation and to encourage better ones.
Let me go here with you right now. We don’t have enough time here to cover the movement of education within our country because at one point there was no public education it was all at home. Then public education was put in place to help those who could not feasibly, or in any way homeschool their children effectively or with a mentor. Then it has grown to now, the dominant is public education it gets most of the money, and then you have homeschools, and you have Christian schools, but if you were to look at right now as you look at this new generation that’s coming up what would you say is the greatest threat to Christian education as you are witnessing and seeing, is it government? Is it just a secular attitude? Is it parents who don’t see the need that they haven’t had the teaching, the primary educators of their children, or something else, what would it be?
Jamison Coppola: Well, in terms of the public education system I would say I think it’s how you framed it. I might describe it as the death of truth. Now, Of course, truth can never die, but people’s beliefs in truth can die. I just don’t see a lot of areas in education in our country where objective truth that there is a reality and that reality is both physical, in this physical world there are certain truths that play out, but it’s also in the spiritual world. When you lose truth like that, or even if you lose the ability to logically work the process of critical thinking to get to the point of some absolute fixed principle, some truth, it’s dangerous.
Our culture right now values interpretation over everything else. Every person is left to himself, or to the pressures that surround him from a group, or an interest to define reality, and that’s just not real. It’s not a truth, so I think in public education we’ve mistaken what pluralism is, and instead sent the message that there’s no objective through absolute truth, everybody’s opinion is just as valid as anybody else, and that’s opposite, in Christian education we’re still teaching there’s a fixed point of reference for truth, that’s God himself and he’s communicated through his word, so let’s figure that out, let’s study that together, let’s grow in our ability to understand that and follow after it.
Gary Dull: That’s a very, very excellent answer, Jamison. Of course, you took some of the thoughts right out of my lips, so I’m not going to ask you the questions that I was going to ask because you’ve already answered them, but there could be some parents listening to us right now who are sort in their mind determining whether or not they should send their children to a Christian school. What would you say to them to encourage them to do so, and maybe just again recap some of the general benefits that there would be for having their children in the Christian school?
Jamison Coppola: Yeah, what better place to learn about Christ, to learn about our Savior then at a Christian school. We’re followers of Jesus [inaudible 00:33:17] I mean, you just have that in spades at a Christian school. You have a constant infiltration of the thinking of the mind of Christ, so because that is primary there’s all sorts of side benefits, right? I love C.S. Lewis in his talks about seeking first things, seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.
Christian schools are great places. They’re joyful places. They’re active places. They’re forward-looking places. They’re just great places to be involved, to get involved. Go visit a Christian school. Many of them want you to come and visit. I yearned for parents to come learn about. I wanted them to sit in my classroom and hear my teachers, see my teachers, meet my students. I wanted their children to come and spend time in my school to see what it was like. I can’t encourage parents enough to just find out what Christian education is about. It’s an exciting, joyful, purposeful place where your children will be taught the truth of God’s word, how to have a relationship with him, and how to follow our Savior.
Isaac Crockett: Wow, what a great idea to try that out to go visit a Christian school if you’re thinking about that. Sam, you have a lot of experience both with Christian school, homeschool, and with our Pennsylvania State Education system. Could you maybe give us your final thoughts and then close our program in prayer today?
Sam Rohrer: I’d be glad to, Isaac. Really, Jamison, I want to thank you for your commentary today. You’ve done, I think, a very, very expert job of putting pieces together, but this, Isaac, is a very complex issue. I’d say at the heart, at the foundation, parents must understand that they are their children’s first teachers always and will be, and it’s God who has given the responsibility to parents to teach their children, the fathers particularly, and then their grandchildren. The church, though, must teach the biblical principles so that parents are encouraged to do what the Bible says, and to connect the dots of how to do it. Then government needs to recognize that it’s primarily the parent’s job augmented by the church. Then it’s theirs just to make sure that the freedom is there not to do it, not to arrange it and to tell the church or families what it’s all about. If those pieces are in place then I think, Isaac, it works out.