Episode #340 – Dr. Ellsworth McIntyre & Grace Community Schools
(Originally Aired) May 25, 1995
R.J. Rushdoony interviews Dr. Ellsworth McIntyre, founder of Grace Community School in SW Florida. The discussion involves Christian Reconstruction in the field of education.
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Speaker 1: Your Reconstruction Radio Podcast Network presents The Easy Chair with R.J Rushdoony.
Speaker 2: T Easy chair with R.J Rushdoony is brought to you by the Chalcedon Foundation and the GCS Apprenticeship program. For more information visit Chalcedon.edu and gcspprenticeship.com.
R.J. Rushdoony: This is Easy Chair number 340, May 25th 1995, R.J Rushdoony. Tonight Douglas Murray, Andrew Sandlin, Mark Rushdoony and myself, have the pleasure of having with us Dr. Ellsworth McIntyre, and his son and co-worker Daniel McIntyre. Dr. McIntyre is very, very important in the current educational scene, because of the work he’s done in pioneering in educating children normally regarded as pre-school, and taking them through the third or fourth grade level. He has six schools five of which are pre-school. The sixth takes in the fourth through the sixth grade so it’s the school, which the other children go and he’s planning on going through the high school level, and has several locations and other communities, in which to build in the near future other schools.
He is located in what is a very interesting and unusual community Naples, Florida and has really made his mark there. Mark it’s a pleasure to have you with us. You’ve been a very important part of our work, and we have followed everything you do with a great deal of delight and pride, that you have linked yourself to us as a Christian Reconstructionist. Would you tell us now what you have done there in Naples and what your goals are? Take your time please.
Pastor McIntyre: Thank you Rush. We are closely linked to Chalcedon since we designed our schools to teach the Christian reconstructionist point of view, from the very beginning. We’ve designed our work to be free-standing, that is supported only by tuition coming from the parents to benefit from our schools, so that we would be free to teach doctrine, that we thought was necessary for the children’s futures. The children have come to us primarily from working parents, and most of the parents would probably not be church members in any particular church, certainly not a robust reform church, which supports Christian reconstructionist theology.
We designed the school to provide initially a daycare environment for working parents, who more and more have to work and there teach the children an intensive phonics program, so it’s not unusual we’ll have three year olds that will read fluently. A bright graduate from our kindergarten level is not unusual to read into fifth grade level. The teaching of the 10 Commandments, the 23rd Psalm, the Lord’s prayer, the basics of the Christian faith, the parents initially understand that we’re going to teach soon, but don’t understand the impact that that will have on their children’s behavior, and so we find that by the time we get to the kindergarten level-wise, the youngster is fluent, the youngster is testing …
We test them on the reading achievement test and it’s not unusual to have them go clear up to the fifth grade level on these tests. Then the parents have a decision to make about keeping the youngsters, in a good Christian school rather than going to the public schools, and happily more and more of them are deciding to stay with us, since our tuition cost is very reasonable. We’re only $7 a week in Naples right now, $65 a week in Cape Coral and only $55 a week in Port Charlotte, because of the economic level of the communities.
The parents find that they would not be able to hire after school care usually for much less than that, and so for just a few dollars more they can give the child an intensive private school education, an education that allows the child to learn how to say, “Yes, sir,” and “No, ma’am” and be obedient and be productive and be all the things that parents want their children to be, for no more cost that many times less cost than it would cost just for daycare. We’ve had a need that the working parents have and we have thrown in Christianity, so to speak, as a bonus and it becomes more and more appreciated and then the parents, in turn, keep the children with us.
R.J. Rushdoony: You spoke about the impact on parents. Could you tell us how that has led to marriage?
Pastor McIntyre: Increasingly many of the young people nowadays, many times not out of sheer rebellion, it is just they live together. They don’t bother to get married. They are afraid of more influenced by the popular culture, than they are by Christian culture as my generation might, but whenever the youngsters come home asking hard questions about adultery and this commandment that they learned in school and many times the children will say, “Should we pray at home? We do before we have our meals and our snack times at school.” The parents are led many times to ask us to marry them, or they go back to their churches to get married.
Many of them have made a rededication to Christ. Many of them have come to a conversion experience by the means of the children, because it is very hard to look a little child in the eye and say, “No, that is not what we are doing is ok,” because Hollywood may say so or because the majority of people say so. When the child comes home saying, “God’s words says …” That’s a powerful sermon. The sermon that is delivered in a very kind way. The child doesn’t come home with a chip on his shoulder, so to speak, but he comes home asking some questions. Daniel, here, for example, had a wedding just recently and we have some folks that just don’t have a church connection, and they promise us that after we have the ceremony that they will be, they will show their face up at their childhood church or whatever it is. We do the best we can to serve the families in this area and the children become good preachers for us in this area.
R.J. Rushdoony: You have a thoroughly educational program in that it is not entertaining the children and you don’t even have a free play recess. You’re teaching them continually or it is organized play. That to me is one of the amazing things. These children are so very happy and they are self disciplined, because they’ve learned that in the school. Could you comment something about your goals in those areas?
Pastor McIntyre: We have found that children, the more secure they are, the more happy they are. What basically produces unhappiness in children is not being aware of what’s going to happen next. Children are born into the world in which everything seems out of control, and especially if they are born into a home that’s not happy, a home that is no divorce, or a home that is not a lot of arguing and so the home is unpredictable. It is a terrifying place, but if suddenly they show up at a school like ours where everything happens on schedule at the same time, the teacher suddenly becomes predictable. The teacher is predictable. The teacher has rules that are predictable.
The teacher has activities and they know if they perform these activities well, that they are going to receive praise and if they perform them badly they are not going to receive praise. The same is true when they go out on the playground. If they go out on the playground and it is chaos, this produces unhappiness, but if they go out on the playground and we have organized games, for example, I think we sold out ever hula hoop in Naples twice whenever we get going on that. We’ll have days in which they can bring in water guns and we will have organized little shooting at each other and so forth, but the idea is that it has to be organized play with rules, so that the child learns to discipline himself and learns how to conduct himself in relationship to others, rather than the chaotic free for all in which children are injured on the playground.
The teachers, men like Daniel, have been very innovative on new games to invent for the youngsters. For example, Dan, tell them about going to the library and getting games and so forth.
Daniel McIntyre: That was interesting because I when to find games that the children would enjoy playing, games that I remembered from my youth that I could not remember all the rules to, and there wasn’t that many I could remember other than football and soccer and some of those ones. I went to look for simple games like hop scotch where you’d build hop scotch and what the exact sizes would be, and different rules that play it. I found the copyright of the book was 1950. There was no updates, no nothing.
I mean, there was nobody looking into these, but it’s because they believe in non competitive play now, and so anything that would be competitive or any kind of game where you would be out or discluded from the group, for a while until the hope you’ll be invited back into it, would be a game that would be unacceptable, because there is a winner and a loser and they can’t have that.
R.J. Rushdoony: Douglas, do you have any question you would like to ask
Douglas Murray: I am interested in the impact on the parents. Was this anticipated?
Pastor McIntyre: Yes. We anticipated the impact upon the parents. For example, in an ordinary school using an invitational system of doctrine, the child would be persuaded to make a profession of faith and would be assured that his salvation, because he made a profession of faith. Then he goes home and asks mommy and daddy if they are going to heaven also, and this can be rather disconcerting to the parents, to say the least, particularly if they are not of evangelical persuasion.
Now we decided, instead, to teach the child that a profession of faith is something that causes them, to be able to keep the Commandments better and better and that they could not be certain of their salvation, as long as they were not growing in the power to obey God and obey God’s word better and better. As a result the child is led to examine himself in relationship to God’s law which, of course, is the exact gospel that according to scripture, to inspect the log that’s in your own eye, rather than the mite that’s in thy neighbor’s.
This makes for a much more polite child and whenever the child comes home and he is chaste and he is examining himself, and he is worried about readying up his room, he is worried about obeying his parents, because if he doesn’t learn to obey his parents he can’t claim really to be a very good Christian. If he isn’t polite, if he isn’t learning the rules, if he isn’t praying before a meal and these things, why he has, doesn’t have confidence in his own salvation.
It’s something very attractive about a child who examines himself rather than his parents and is more anxious to inspect himself than others. That’s a very irresistible testimony, and so we set up to teach the child to do this and the effect upon the parents we did not … It was not unanticipated, but it was very, very beautiful to watch but if the parents came to us … I remember from my prior experience when I was with invitational schools, that many times the parents would come in great anger, because now they had this insolent youngster who was claiming to be a Christian and on his way to heaven, and he was no better or perhaps worse than he was before. They would give us lectures about our theology and so forth.
I can’t really think of any parents that come back to us bitter about what we taught to their children. Every parent, regardless of their state wants to have the child taught the 10 Commandments, who doesn’t? The 23rd Psalm is very beautiful and beautiful thoughts and the Lord’s Prayer. We teach this and the religious meanings of the holidays and basic Bible study, so that the child is directed to inspect himself and the state of his own soul. We have found that the very, very good testimony to the parents. The parents are anxious to recommend other children to come to our school, and it’s very often that parents will come in and say, “We’ve noticed a change in our neighbor’s child or our relative’s child and we would like very much to bring that child into your school.”
R.J. Rushdoony: Andrew?
Andrew: Why did you choose, Mac, and how important is intensive phonics as a method of teaching reading?
Pastor McIntyre: I took phonics at Johns Hopkins University, two very good courses under a Dr. Harding, who was one of the world’s leading experts on it. One of the things that Dr. Harding impressed upon me is that a child born blind is not impaired as critically as a child born deaf. We learn language primarily through hearing rather than sight. Therefore, the easiest and quickest way to teach a child is primarily through hearing and that is why the phonics method is so successful. We’ve turned it on its head of course; with the approach that we use with the look say system where we’re teaching children, to recognize letters by their nomenclature rather than by the sound.
R.J. Rushdoony: Yes.
Pastor McIntyre: They cannot learn to read as easily as they can. The phonic system just plain works. It works very, very well. We use a modified version of the Pensacola Christian College’s curriculum, which is used in thousands of Christian schools around the world and it works out very, very nicely, indeed. I highly recommend them.
R.J. Rushdoony: Mark?
Mark Rushdoony: Would you explain a little bit about your background in Christian schools before you started your own, and what you saw as some of the problems in Christian schools and in administration, that you decided to change when you started your own school from scratch?
Pastor McIntyre: I graduated from Bob Jones University and then went to a Christian school in Georgia that was your typical Baptist day school. They did wonderful job at recruiting youngsters from out of the community, and recruiting them from the public school system, which was certainly inferior to the Christian education that they were offering. They were heavily in debt constantly. They did not make money. There was constant fund raising. There was constant under payment of the faculty, and there was a constant pushing of the parents for more and more income to support the school, which was financially dependent upon them.
As a consequence the school was always in a position of being more and more dependent upon the church and the church families. As it became more dependent upon the church families, and then the church families were able to exert more and more influence over what the school taught and what the school did not teach. A lot of the political pressures, and the conflicts inevitably come up between church and school, and the pastor’s put in the position and the teachers are put in a position, where they have to choose between what‘s good for the church and what’s good for the school.
As a consequence, the schools have grown in this country, more and more of them, to where they’ll only admit children from churched families or from the church that sponsors the school, so that the school increasingly has to exist and it is more and more problems becomes less and less evangelistic. It’s not winning souls. It’s not reaching out to the community as it once did, and it’s becoming more and more closed in upon itself. I felt that a school should evangelize, particularly these children, who are coming more and more from families that don’t have any association with any school, whose parents are constantly absent from the home working all they can just to keep body and soul together, and children coming from homes to which know one divorce after another, or have never even known a marriage.
Christian schools, increasingly by excluding those who cannot claim to belong to a church, cannot claim to have made a profession of faith, are letting these people down. I wanted to design a school that would be financially stable and able to support itself strictly from tuition, and would be able to evangelize to everyone in the community, and do the kind of work that I feel a church school should do in reaching other people.
Male: Mac, in your estimation, what are some of the principle weaknesses of Christian day schools in this country? You know, the movement is about, oh, roughly, 25, 30 years old, maybe a little less. What do you perceive from your experience to be the principle weaknesses of it the Christian day school movement?
Pastor McIntyre: The principle weakness of the Christian day school movement is that it has become castrated so to speak, by taking God’s law away from the curriculum and away from the application to the curriculum. Whenever they go to chapel, the children are taught again and again that. Christianity is simply making a profession of faith. They are not taught that Christianity is applying God’s law to themselves, to their work, to everything round about them, bringing their life more and more in conformity to God’s law, and measuring the genuineness of their profession of faith, by how well they grow and mature into becoming more Christ like, that is, more obedient to God’s law.
The faculty, many of the faculty, I found, are Calvinistic, but they are Calvinists who emphasize almost exclusively the sovereignty of God, but do not emphasize the function of God’s law in the curriculum. As a result, why, we have a curriculum, which becomes more and more humanistic. You have, for example in one of the schools, one of the speech classes that I went into, the speech teacher was actually having youngsters conduct debate, on whether the death penalty should be enforced in the United States or not. Afterwards I said to her as politely as I could, “That’s hardly a debatable point, do you think?
The Bible authorizes the death penalty and here you are in a Christian school acting, as though that’s something that can be debated.” That’s just a small example of many things that I have seen in the Christian schools, because they are not using God’s law. The idea that God’s law says something, therefore I can’t debate that on my speech class was a brand new thought to her. It was not that she was an evil person necessarily, but this is what was done in her college, and she had a little synopsis on it and so forth and that made a nice little workshop and so she went ahead and did it. There are other examples that I could give you from the Christian school, because the Christian schools do not apply God’s law.
For example in every school that I administered, I ask the teachers at the beginning of the assembly to pledge allegiance first to the Bible and then pledge allegiance, secondly to the Christian flag and last to the American flag. At first there was a great deal of excitement and questions why. I said, “At Christian schools God’s law should come first. God’s, the Bible comes first. A good nation is a nation whose laws agree with God’s laws, and a bad nation is a bad nation to the extent that its laws disagree with the Bible. God’s law should be supreme.”
The notion then carries that the good Christian school is the school that agrees most often with the Bible, with God’s law, with God’s word and a bad Christian school is the one who disagrees with it the most often, and so likewise with the church. In other words, we must teach the child to judge all things in relationship to God’s word, to God’s law, what is good and what is bad agrees with it. Likewise, he must learn to judge himself. He is a good boy to the extent or a genuine Christian to the extent, that he is able more and more by God’s help to keep the law better and better, and he is not progressing or he is not a genuine Christian if he cannot.
Just knowing the good guys and the bad guys, so to speak and using the Bible a standard to do so. In every Christian school I went into and just reversed the order of the pledges because, as you know the normal order of the pledges is flag first and everything religious afterwards. For example, at my local Kiwanis club I suggested to the chaplain, that he really should call of prayer first and the Christian flag afterwards, and there was a lot of excitement with the Episcopalian chaplain about just why that is. He is still wrestling with it. I’m still having a good time debating with him, but he is resisting it.
He really thinks it’s quite strange that you would offer up something religious, before the political and the United States.
Male: You fly the Christian flag over your school, don’t you? You’ve had some comments about that.
Pastor McIntyre: Yes, we fly the Christian flag in front of all of our schools. We have 35 foot flagpole with a big Christian flag flying on it. Now we fly the American flag on weekends and we fly the American flag on military holidays, and at half-mast when horrible things happen like the Oklahoma bombing and this type of thing, but ordinarily when the school is in session, the Christian flag is flying and we explain to the children that this is because God’s work is being done here, and God’s law applies here, more strictly than it would apply in some place that doesn’t seek to teach God’s word.
The children after a while, get to take a great deal of pride in this. They say, “Our school flies the Christian flag as theirs flies another flag.” We want them to be patriotic and we want them to love their country of course, but country should be loved to the extent that country upholds God’s law. There is limits, for example with good marriage, so marriage in which the husband applies God’s law, and we can’t go beyond God’s law and call ourselves good Christians. We teach the children about the flag and the flag that principle.
Male: What motivates parents who are either non Christian or the ones that are living together without benefit of marriage, what motivates them to bring their kids to a Christian school?
Pastor McIntyre: Most of the parents that come to see me are motivated by the fact that our cost is lower than it would be the competitor. They feel like they buy a hamburger, most of them. The school is convenient. The school is clean. The school produces healthy children. The school produces happy children, as Rush says, they’re very, very happy, because of the security of the environment that we produce makes them so. Then later when they discover the benefits of the Christianity that we have, but initially they choose the school just on the basis of convenience and price. Of course its reputation being that it does good things for children, but mostly it’s the school environment, and consider the educational aspect of it either, because who expects in America a three year old to read?
We have found at first that we would go to great lengths to tell them about how the child is going to be able to read and we would bring in a child, one of our readers who would be only three years old, and have him put on a demonstration for them, and we found that we scared some of them away. They said, “My child will never be able to that. My goodness, they read like that,” and so we found that we would only then put on a demonstration, for the parents who indicated an interest in education. The same thing is true about a lot of our curriculum. If the parent is interested in that we’ll particularly show them, but if they are just interested in a safe environment, why we will talk about that.
R.J. Rushdoony: One of the things I have noticed across country in community after community including here. The parents who have children are your best salesmen, because they will brag to other parents of their preschool child or their kindergarten child can read thus, and so and they like nothing better than to call the child into the room and have the child show, by picking up a newspaper or the Bible how they can read. The parents who are there are very upset by that. They say, “My little Mary or my little Johnny is just as smart as that kid.” They feel that the public school is cheating them, so they’ll put them in the Christian school.
I know here the father of a kindergarten girl told me, he said, “Our girl was playing with two other girls, third and fourth graders and she’s in the kindergarten.” The kids ran to their mother saying that this little girl in kindergarten could read better than they could, and could read the parts of their book that they weren’t up to reading yet. You can imagine the effect on the parents. I have found that this is one of the best selling points for a good Christian school. The child who is in day care as with Mac or in our school in kindergarten, who is so far ahead of other children that the parents are really upset, why isn’t the public school doing as well as this school?
You’d be amazed at how that gets around and what a selling point that is.
Daniel McIntyre: Yeah, I want to add that almost all of our parents are brought to us by word of mouth. Over 75 percent I would say come in due to word of mouth alone. Dad doled a point that was before that, was that we are not up front with the parents about religion right off the start. I mean, we’re not … Most Christian schools when the parents come in their first question is, what religion are you? That’s not a question that you will get when you come into our school. We’ll say we’re religious and we teach the 23rd Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer and the 10 Commandments and we will go on like that, but we’re not going to say, “You have to believe it.” This is something we are going to teach and it’s not going to be forced upon you.
R.J. Rushdoony: Yes. this is an important fact and I feel that as Mac said, Christians school that try to exclude non Christians are missing a bit, because it’s the greatest means of evangelism in recent years. A very high percentage of the best Christians have been reached through their children, and to pass that up, I think, is a very serious error on the part of schools.
Male: There have been numerous programs on television and articles written about the difficulty that large corporations have finding people with basic skills, reading, writing, language skills, communication skills as well as being able to do a simple computation and there is a controversy going on now, just within the recent two, three weeks that major companies, have been laying off domestic workers, American citizens and hiring foreign nationals or people recently, who have recently immigrated to this country, because their basic skills and computational skills exceed the product that comes from the public school. The wave has hit the beach in the commercial sector, and I would think that the … They’re reaching a point of desperation, obviously.
R.J. Rushdoony: Yes.
Pastor McIntyre: There is something else going on also. We have found that foreign nationals are very good to hire as teacher’s aides in our schools, because they will clean and they will say yes, sir and no sir and they will show up on time, and they’re respectful. In other words, they have work habits that come closer to the Christian ethic, than our students who have been trained in the humanistic system in which there is no value placed upon these things. If anything it’s a value placed on being flippant, or questioning of all authority and not subservient to authority. This is one of the big things that Christian schools do which is just as important, perhaps more important many times in literacy that the child is able to relate to authority and is able to take responsibility and able to carry out orders. We have found for example, Dan has four Mexican, people of Mexican heritage working in his school, and they show up for work and they do a very good job. It pays us to hire them and it pains us that we can’t find Americans that can do as well, many times.
Male: It’s so bad that I can’t even speak to some of them. I have to translate to other ones, but they know basic English enough to take care of the children at potty breaks and do cleaning and stuff like that, but I’d rather hire them to do it because the Americans it is a job they won’t do.
R.J. Rushdoony: Yes. One of the things that I have been told by public school teachers, even on the kindergarten level is how insolent the children are. They learn very early. They bring it into the school, so the teachers who have been many years in the public school system, and have been used to clean well behaved kindergarten children are now appalled, at what they are getting and how unruly they are and defiant of all authority.
Male: I think a lot of that conditioning comes from watching TV. I forget years ago there was a statistic, I don’t know some secretary of education or something threw it out that kids have something like 3000 or 4000 hours, of what he termed unrelated input data from television. They’re actually trained. Their attitudes are forming by the time they hit the public school system. That insolence comes from, you know, programs like The Kids and Rosanne and some of these other TV programs where that’s considered humorous.
Pastor McIntyre: I think it is a mistake to blame it on the television, however. It’s the atmosphere of the home and the church, that doesn’t set forth the standard of what is right and wrong. For example, one of the most interesting things I learned about phonetics is for example, a southerner born and raised in the south listening to a perfect Midwestern accent, all of his life on television and radio will not develop a Midwestern accent. He will have a southern accent like his neighbors, because there is something about personal contact, which overrides anything that we get from media, so that a New England accent, a Boston accent, a Bronx accent will not be changed by listening to television.
I think it’s also true that the impact upon our behavior is formed more by personal relationships, that we have with our personal circle of people, in the home, in the school and in the church if they have a church experience, which increasingly they have less and less of. These have a greater impact, and it’s a mistake to blame it on the television. Television is fantasy and the child very soon, by the age of five is able to differentiate between the two. I think also another interesting thing that I have learned is that values are tied to the language that the child develops. In other words, his values are picked up simultaneously with his language.
If he is learning language in the home that’s laden with values as he will in a Christian home, or if he is learning language in a Christian school that’s laden with values as he would in a Christian school, those values come almost like osmosis. They’re part of the environment, but if he is learning language from people who are valueless or humanistic, or without value or even take a great perverted pride, in not upholding standards of what we would call the 10 Commandments, then the child will not learn these things, and by the time he is five or six, he is pretty well set in an anti-Christian mode of thinking. The TV may have an influence upon this, but the primary thing is the personal contact, because that is where the values are learned.
Male: I think Mark said one time that if you didn’t get a kid by the, by the time kindergarten age. If he came to you by the time he was in the first or second grade in the public school, it was almost impossible to turn him around.
Daniel McIntyre: Not impossible, but they get bad habits in a lot of ways as far as their school work. By the time they get up around seventh grade it’s … If they have habits that are set that are bad behavior habits, there is not a lot we can do with them unless they want to change, unless they want to change.
Pastor McIntyre: That’s why the daycare or the pre-school is more important many times than what we do in the upper grades, because these values are going to be learned between the ages of two and five, and they are, simultaneously with their language, and they are, then this is the most critical time for the Christian educator to reach the child, but you asked s question earlier, what is one of the great problems with Christian education in America, and one of the great problems is they do not try deliberately to recruit the pre-school child. They’re trying to build their schools from K-5 and up. I had a long career as a Christian school administrator, before I founded my first Christian school which was in 1985, and at every Christian school that I came into they were suffering bankruptcy which is not unusual for the Christian schools, and I was able to turn them around. One of the ways I was able to turn them around was by simply adding a preschool, because here this is where the evangelization takes place. Here is where the child is the most plastic and can be reached most easily and we could do the most good. There was resistance at every level, however to this. The reason the Lord says, “Forbid not the little children to come,” is because that is exactly what rebellious Christians do. They do forbid little children to come-
R.J. Rushdoony: That’s right
Pastor McIntyre: They do neglect the preschool and they do regard the elementary as somehow more prestigious than preschool, and if you teach high school it’s somehow more prestigious than elementary, and the most glorified of all is to be a college professor. I think many that be first shall be last and many that be last shall be first, whenever educators are judged on the basis of how much good they’ve done and how well they have followed God’s word. The preschool is a critical thing for evangelization of people, and if a school has a heart for evangelism, the preschool should be the biggest part of the school.
R.J. Rushdoony: I will have to tell you a story. It was told to me by a schoolteacher once in my travels. Told as a true story, but it’s so perfect a story, I have trouble accepting it as actually having happened, but according to her this little boy came in to the kindergarten from out in the ranching area, getting the bus in every day and he was a very fine little boy, except every time he was frustrated he’d cut loose with such a stream of four letter words, he’d picked up from the cowhands.
She tried unsuccessfully to do something about it and finally one day when it was really a shocking outburst, she waited until it was time for him to get on the bus and pinned a note to his parents saying, that little Joe is a very fine boy who has a good attitude, but his use of bad language, especially some shocking four letter words is really terrible, and they should do something about it, because it was very disruptive of the class. He went home with it and then next day his behavior was just exemplary and his language was beautiful. She was so pleased that when it was time for him to go home, she decided that a note telling the parents how wonderfully he behaved should go home with him.
She got the note and went out there to pin it on him and he shirked back and he said, “Oh, no, you don’t. You did that yesterday and they beat the S out of me.”
Male: Mac, are we entering an era in which the state is losing a monopoly in primary and secondary education and if so, do you think the schools like yours are going to be the norm in the future? Have you thought that far ahead? That is probably superfluous. I am sure you have.
Pastor McIntyre: I have trained people that have started schools in Virginia, Mississippi, Texas, several places around the country and one of our ambitions is to train people to start schools like our own, because we need Christian schools that are financially independent, that is dependent for their income upon tuition and can pay the teachers decent wages. For example, our management couples earn at least $50,000 a year, plus a lot of benefits that are on top of that. The idea being that a school should be able to be free standing, based upon tuition only and not dependent upon tithes and offerings.
We have a sponsoring church for our Grace Community Schools, Nicene Covenant Church, but 100% of our tithes and offerings go to support other Christian work. There is no salary paid to me as preacher as that school. My money comes from the school. We don’t even have a church building. We meet in one of the school buildings, because we feel that that church, church’s outreach is through the schools to the families that we serve and that the tithe money should be used for other purposes, because I have found that if you being to live on the tithe money as a ministry, you have got to get dependent upon it.
Now I would like to have that principle all across America, because if we had three Christian schools like ours in every county in the United States, that would only be about the same number of outlets as McDonalds has, but the influence upon our country would be tremendous and the amount of income that could come, from tithing couples that run these institutions, why there could be Chalcedons that would be able to do things that we would only dream about now.
Male: Much more godly than big Mac’s
Pastor McIntyre: Much more godly than big Mac’s, absolutely.
R.J. Rushdoony: It was the church that financed the publication of Systematic Theology, which in turn brought in income enough to reprint By What Standard and Messianic Character of American Education, and may provide it for the republication of the shorter works. That’s what Mark’s set up is doing now just insofar as it affects us.
Pastor McIntyre: Our church feels that by reaching these families that we’re going to clip a lot of heavenly coupons, and we’re going to clip a lot of heavenly coupons by helping to publish Systematic Theology and other things that we have done as well. This is more important than building brick and mortar and a steeple, because of what we’re building in the lives of these people. Now this vision I would like to transfer to a lot of other reformed Christian Reconstructionist men and women that go across our country, because now using the system that I have developed, these schools could be started from scratch.
They can provide financial independence for Christian men and women, reformed ministers and their wives and could provide a tremendous amount of income to help support scholars like R. J. Rushdoony. This is a plan which I’m very excited about and I hope that the listeners to this tape will pray about, and consider for themselves or for their children or for their day school graduates, to get this kind of training. We try very hard to train young people. We have a summer program where we bring it in just for the summer to get, introduce them to our ministry to see if they would like it as a life work.
We even pay them 1000 dollars a month to do so and provide housing for them. We’re serious about recruiting young people, because frankly, right now the thing that is holding back my ministry is not money. It’s not the availability of real estate. It’s the availability of people that are capable of running these schools in the manner that we have set up.
R.J. Rushdoony: Do you have a business plan that people can follow in setting up a school from scratch?
Pastor McIntyre: Yes. However, they key to running one of the schools is not a plan like, for example, the franchising approach is that you write everything down and we’ve done that in a manual and we’ve done that, but you have to be able to bring children into the school, nowadays and teach them to obey without corporal punishment. You just cannot touch them. You cannot do anything in a negative fashion to discipline them. The only kind of discipline you can use is time out. Young ministers like Daniel here, my son, have developed a system of rewards and punishments that we use, by offering rewards and recognition and time out and these things to modify the behavior of the child in a biblical fashion, because that’s what the covenant is, rewards and punishment, but you can’t use the corporal.
You can and you would be surprised if you visit our schools to see how well behaved they are. You can do these things, but it takes a lot longer and a lot more patience and a lot more skill, on the part of the teacher and this is the skill that they need to learn. This is why they have to come to our school and watch how we do this, because if we barge in, in the fashion of some Christians and attempt to use the discipline like dear old dad and mom used on you, or as Rush’s little joke about the beat the S out of someone, that can’t happen. You cannot do that in the society which we have, but we can still get that child to behave, but it takes a lot of skill and a lot of training.
That is the key thing in this ministry, not the business plan, although we have a very good one and we have a very good manual, but I could hand out the business plan all day long and people would fail all day long. After all, how many Christian schools do you know are making a profit? I don’t think you probably know any. They are very, very few Christian schools make any money at all. Now that is not all their business plan. There is a lot of other reasons why that’s true.
R.J. Rushdoony: I think one of the reasons today why there are failures of people who would try to imitate you, or try to imitate some other group that has successfully embarked on a particular kind of Christian school approach, whether it’s preschool, grade or high. What you find is that people will go in and learn something or teach in this school or that or work with Mac for a while, and then go out and try to improve on what they’ve learned, when they’ve had not more than a year or two of experience. They think they know better. They think they’re better than those they’ve learned from, and as a result they’ll start a new work which will begin to go well and then they kill it, because they tried to improve on something which has worked, and they don’t have enough experience to improve on something.
The only time you can say, “I can change or alter something,” is if you’ve been at it, say 10 years and you know the whole thing inside and out. If you try earlier, you kill it and I have seen Christian education on all levels commit suicide, because they go out to transplant a program into their community and they think they know better. Would you agree with that, Mac from your experience?
Pastor McIntyre: Yes, from my experience I’ve almost got to the point if a fellow thinks he can run a school, most likely he is not a very good candidate because I am going to have to convince him that he cannot. This is why I find that recent high school graduates from a home schooling environment, recent college graduates sometimes who have just come in without any experience, that we can move them along faster to where they can get what they need to know. For example, I had one fellow who was a good friend of mine, so I was a little more flip with him and sarcastic than I might be with a stranger but he said to me, he said, “, I know how to run a school.”
I said, “Well …” I named the school that he was from. I said, “Did that school operate at a profit?” He said, “No.” I said, “What kind of a school do you know how to run then?” Then he laughed. He says, “I know how to run a school that doesn’t make a profit.” I said, “Now you have got it.”
R.J. Rushdoony: Another of the problems I encounter, I have people come up to me and ask for my counsel. They’re starting a school this coming fall and they’re going to take in K through 12. I tell them you’re a loser to begin with. Why don’t you start with preschool or kindergarten then add one grade a year. “Oh, no. I have a child who is going into the seventh grade. I’ve got to have all those years, and then somebody else who is working with me has a child that will be in the 10th grade.” I say, “Home school them, but don’t kill your school off at the beginning by attempting more than you can do,” and usually those schools fail because they’re trying to do more than they can, if they begin a grade at a time at most two grades, the first year.
They will learn in the process of doing and even then it will be a killing kind of thing for neophytes, but they all think it is a simple trick to educate little children.
Male: I am interested in the … Have you assessed the impact on children who graduate from your school, and since there is no high school they go to a public high school somewhere, or do they go to home schooling to finish their education?
Pastor McIntyre: We have had some go through the high school, but it’s more or less of a home school type of environment, because we don’t have a classroom situation above the sixth grade. However, we do know that children have left our school in such numbers, because we get about 20% of the preschool children at one time or another in our schools in the county that we’re in, the county in which we’re most in and so children are arriving at the public school system, so far in advance that we get reports back, that they go to take reading lessons with older students, first graders taking reading circles with third graders and this sort of thing.
They used to turn them away saying they could not go in the first grade because they weren’t old enough, even though the children were reading at the second, third, fourth level and so forth. They modified their rules on that. We found that the public schools are clawing very hard, fighting very hard to keep those students, because when they were turning them away they were coming back to us, more readily than they are now. We have had an impact on the public school system because they’ve had to change their techniques. We paint it kind of a joke, we found that over, I would say, 60%, 70% of them are in the gifted program and they weren’t gifted children at all.
They were average children that were just doing gifted work, and they would be in the gifted program for a while and then drift back with the main stream, meaning that they lost a lot of their advantage. Some of the parents have come back to us sad, because Rush mentioned the junior high level. Many of them don’t find out what’s happening, until about the junior high level and then they come back with very sad tales which I’ve tried to help them out, but a lot of the moral problems, which are more awful than the literary problems and the problems of just not being able to count and so forth, don’t show up until the sixth, seventh and eighth grade.
Then we have this child who is a moral cripple and it is very, very difficult, as Mark mentioned to turn this child around which they can be converted at any age, right up to our death bed. I believe in conversion, but the conversion produces a person after the conversion who is not as strong and is not as able and not as useful to himself, to his family, to his community as he would have been, if he had been converted and lived a righteous life from the preschool up. If we want our children to live long and not die early as the commandment promises, “Honor thy father and mother that thy days may be long.”
If we want children that are going to be wealthy and not poor, because that commandment also says, “Upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” If we want our children to be healthy instead of sick, because the apostle Paul says, “For this reason many of ye are sick, many of you sleep.” If we want to have mercy and compassion upon children and want them to be healthy, wealthy and live a long time, all of this has to come from that moral education which has really grounded on God’s word, God’s law word and getting to them just as early as possible.
Male: Any state hostility or interference?
Pastor McIntyre: Any state interference? Yes. The state would like very much to have us licensed, and they have come around offering to license us at far less money than would cost for us to belong to the Christian school organization that we belong to, but the difficulty of course, is that the direction of the government is more and more interference with the curriculum that we have. For example, I’ve already mentioned that it is impossible to discipline the child in a private school setting, particularly a preschool setting as you would have 10, 15, 20 years ago, for example. This is indicative of all of the approaches that the government has.
For example, when the Clinton administration came in, immediately we had formerly been receiving children through the jobs training act. That was the act put through forth by Vice President Quayle. Immediately we were notified that we could no longer have children in our schools, because of the fact that we taught them the 10 Commandments and so forth under that program. Formerly under the Republican administration this was acceptable. The direction of the government, particularly as the government is a liberal government as we have now, more liberal than before. Like black as the other one was grey, then the direction that the government has is more and more against what we’re doing.
For example, just the notion that I mentioned earlier to judge a good politician is a politician that proposes legislation that would support God’s law, and a bad politician is a politician that will support legislation, which is opposed to it. That concept is not too welcome by politicians and by government people. They call that intolerant to place any kind of a standard on themselves, and they would resist that. Yes, there is government resistance, so far the state of Florida allows us to belong to a Christian school, and we have to meet all of the same rules and regulations, but happily we can have some resistance to this encroachment of government interference.
R.J. Rushdoony: If someone, because our time is drawing to a close, would like to come and train at one of your schools in your system, what should they do?
Pastor McIntyre: Just pick up the phone and call area code 813 793 3928. That’s in the evening at home. I will be happy to talk to you then, or call one of our schools, same area code 813 793 4022, and someone will be delighted to send them a packet of information. If there’s students who would like to come during the summer and sample our program, we hire some interns every summer, because our schools go year round. That’s something I haven’t mentioned.
R.J. Rushdoony: Yes.
Pastor McIntyre: ] Our students come from seven in the morning until six at night, five days a week and our schools are only closed out for eight holidays during the year, so that the school is open constantly to further the education of the children. For that reason we have to hire a lot of summer replacements, so our regular teachers can take a vacation. That’s an opportunity to sample the education of our schools. If there are parents who would like to have their children train with us and go to college locally, that’s a good thing to do, because many times the practical training as a teacher is a good thing to get before you get a teaching degree. Sadly, we have to hire teachers every year who have a teaching degree, but do not have the capacity to be a good teacher. It would be nice to find that out before you’ve invest four years of education and have a degree to do so.
R.J. Rushdoony: Thank you very much, Mac. This has been an intensely interesting session. What you’re doing is truly remarkable. You have a hand in molding the future, because you do have those who are trying to imitate you or have learned from you and the net result is that, we are seeing in education a specifically Christian impact, which not only stresses quality education but is economically so well grounded that it is creating a profitable type of schooling. Thank you all for listening and good night.
Male: Thank you for listening to the Easy Chair with R.J Rushdoony. Please visit Chalcedon.edu for more materials by R.J Rushdoony and the Chalcedon Foundation.
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