Choosing the education they want

To many at Marshalltown Christian School, School Choice Week represents more than a national campaign to inform parents of their options as they decide where their children should receive a K-12 education.

School choice is more than political debates over the types of learning institutions that deserve tax dollars.

For the several dozen faculty, students and family members who attended MCS’ School Choice Week celebration Thursday, it was about something personal.

To them, school choice stands for the qualities that make MCS a place where students can receive a Christian education.

It is about students’ choice to attend an institution some described as being free from racism, bullying and evolution. Being able to integrate God’s Word into all subjects, not just Bible study.

“In the public schools when I was substitute teaching, if I was doing science like I was today, I couldn’t say ‘God created the Earth and He made it this way,'” said MCS fourth and fifth grade teacher Lindsey Lawrence. “Whereas here in our science lesson today, we started talking about geology and the Earth. We have Bible verses mixed in from Isaiah and we get to say ‘God created the Earth.’ We realize that God is more than just a Bible class. He’s in everything.”

MCS’ Thursday gathering was one of at least 75 events, statewide, recognizing Iowa School Choice Week, which officially began Sunday.

“We really believe that choice of where to send our children is important, for all parents, whether it be public, non-public, charter, homeschool, whatever it is,” said MCS Director Dr. Joan Gerbo.

To commemorate school choice, students prepared posters and essays, describing the reasons why MCS was the right choice for them.

Fourth grader Leila Shetler wrote about students’ right to switch schools.

“Parents want their children to be safe at the school that they put them in,” she said. “If some kids feel uncomfortable at school, then they can switch schools. Teachers can help the kids that need help.”

Shetler is in her second year at MCS. She said she was bullied at her previous elementary school.

Shetler’s father, Brandon, said Leila was also struggling academically, so the extra one-on-one time she receives in small classes at MCS has helped her “enormously.”

“They make her work a little harder,” he added.

That people in America can make such a decision is exactly what School Choice Week is celebrating, said Lawrence.

“Not that we want to take away from the public schools, but just to show we do have a choice,” she said. “Americans, that’s one of our privileges, and it’s an awesome privilege to have.”