What Does Your Kid Sing in the Bathroom?

In the pages of Christianity Today, Andrea Palpant Dilley makes the case for private Christian schooling.  Her best argument?  Thanks to her new Christian school, Dilley’s daughter now sings “Holy, Holy, Holy” while going to the bathroom.

Dilley’s being humorous, of course, but her main point is this: despite legitimate arguments among evangelical Christians over the proper type of schooling, a good Christian school can push young people in healthy Christian directions.  A good school can help turn their souls and minds to the beauties and challenges of living a faith-filled life.  Does a Christian school guarantee that each kid will grow up to be a good Christian?  No.  But it gives young people a different set of mental furniture with which to fill their young heads.  Instead of singing the Ninja Turtles theme song, Dilley’s daughter sings “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

As I’ve reviewed in some of my academic publications, the decision to send children to private Christian schools is not a simple one.  Many Christian schools have been accused of being nothing more than “segregation academies.”  In practice, though, the racial politics of private schooling includes complicated decisions about where to send our children.

We have a few academic studies of these sorts of schooling decisions.  One 1991 study from Stanford wondered why parents chose Christian schools.[1]  Not surprisingly, the question turns out to be remarkably complex.  School founders and parents offered a mélange of explanations for their choice of a private Christian school, from bad discipline at public schools to creationist belief.  Similarly, a 1984 study from Philadelphia found that parents had many reasons for choosing private Christian schools.[2]  Again, parents listed public-school factors ranging from “secular humanism” to drug use and poor discipline.

Moreover, as Dilley notes, some Christian parents insist their children should remain in public schools in order to provide needed moral backbone in struggling schools.  Fair enough, Dilley acknowledges.  But for her daughter, the “Christian-school bubble” was the right choice.  Though the family had to scrape together money for tuition, Dilley’s daughter is able to attend a school that includes authentic diversity.  More important to Dilley, a Christian school also lets Dilley’s daughter learn the rich heritage and faith of evangelical Christianity.


[1] Peter Stephen Lewis, “Private Education and the Subcultures of Dissent: Alternative/Free Schools (1965-1975) and Christian Fundamentalist Schools (1965-1990),” PhD dissertation, Stanford University, 1991.

[2] Martha E. MacCullough, “Factors Which Led Christian School Parents to LeavePublic   School,” Ed.D. dissertation, TempleUniversity, 1984.