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Forging a Fundamentalist “One Best System”: Struggles Over Curriculum and Educational Philosophy for Christian Day Schools, 1970–1989

  • Adam Laats

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No introductions were necessary. By the time of this meeting on May 2, 1972, all of the educators around the table had worked together in the tightly knit community of Protestant fundamentalist education for decades. Those close relationships, however, only made the meeting's confrontational agenda all the more awkward and tense. Beka Horton read the charges. Horton, with her husband Arlin, had founded a thriving fundamentalist school in Pensacola, Florida. The Hortons had invited Dayton Hobbs for support. Hobbs was, like the Hortons, a graduate of fundamentalist Bob Jones University (BJU) and founder of a fundamentalist school in Florida. The Hortons accused Walter Fremont and Phil Smith, leaders of the education faculty at BJU, of one of the most devastating charges in the world of fundamentalist education. They had called this meeting with Bob Jones III, current leader of BJU and grandson of the founder, in order to apprise him of their suspicions that Fremont and Smith had become progressive educators.

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References

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1 Smith, Phillip personal communication, 5 June 2008.

2 Fremont, WalterThe Christian School Movement Today,” recorded speech, 31 July 1989, Bob Jones University Archives; Horton, Ronald A. ed., Christian Education: Its Mandate and Mission (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 1992), 10, 19, 33–35; Phillip Smith, personal communication, 5 June 2008.

3 Fremont, Walter G.Straight Talk on Traditional Education,” Balance [the newsletter of the BJU School of Education] 2 (May 1982); George D. Youstra, “Balanced Christian Education,” Balance 1 (May 1981).

4 Pardoe, Elizabeth LewisPoor Children and Enlightened Citizens: Lutheran Education in America, 1748–1800,” Pennsylvania History 68 (2001): 162201; DeBoer, Peter P. “North American Calvinist Day Schools,” in Religious Schools in the United States K-12: A Source Book, ed. Hunt, Thomas C. and Carper, James C. (New York: Garland Publishing, 1993), 69–95; Jon Diefenthaler, “Lutheran Schools in Transition,” in Religious Schools in the United States K-12, ed. Hunt, Thomas C. and Carper, James C. (New York: Garland Publishing, 1993), 419–43.

5 Lockerbie, D. Bruce The Way They Should Go (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972), 2341; Turner, Daniel L. Standing Without Apology: The History of Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 1997), 37; Blanchard, John F. Jr., “Yes, You Can Have a Christian School!,” Moody Monthly 64 (May 1964): 34, 35; Fakkema, Mark A. “Christian Schools and How to Establish Them,” Christian Life (September 1947): 20–21; Basic Principles of the Christian Schools of America (Grand Rapids, MI: National Union of Christian Schools, n.d. [1925]); The Bible and the Christian Schools of America (1925; repr., Chicago: National Union of Christian Schools, 1926).

6 Parsons, Paul F. Inside America's Christian Schools (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1987), x.

7 Virginia Davis Nordin and William Lloyd Turner, “More than Segregation Academies: The Growing Protestant Fundamentalist Schools,” Phi Delta Kappan 61 (February 1980): 391.

8 “1991/1992 School Statistics,” (Bob Jones University Fundamentalism File; Christian Day School file, file #070264).

9 U.S. Department of Education, Characteristics of Private Schools in the United States: Results from the 2001–2002 Private School Universe Survey (NCES 2005–305) (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics), 27.

10 Carper, James C. and Hunt, Thomas C. The Dissenting Tradition in American Education (New York: Peter Lang, 2007), 203–4.

11 Jacobsen, Douglas and Vance Trollinger, William Jr., “Introduction,” in ReForming the Center: American Protestantism, 1900 to the Present, ed. Jacobsen, Douglas and Vance Trollinger, William Jr. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 9.

12 Carpenter, Joel A. Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); Grant Wacker, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001).

13 Chamberlin, RayPrayer and Bible in Public Schools,” Sword of the Lord 30 (January 1964: 1.

14 Diefenthaler, Lutheran Schools in Transition,” 423–24.

15 Culbertson, WilliamIs the Supreme Court Right?Moody Monthly 63 (July-August 1963: 16 [“sorry road”]; Samuel H. Sutherland Dr., “Tragic Effects of the Recent Supreme Court Decision,” Sword of the Lord XXIX (March 1963): 4 [“atheistic nation”].

16 Skoog, GeraldThe Coverage of Human Evolution in High School Biology Textbooks in the 20th Century and in Current State Science Standards,” Science and Education 14 (2005): 395422; Nelkin, Dorothy Science Textbook Controversies and the Politics of Equal Time (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1977), 30.

17 Nevin, David and Bills, Robert E. The Schools that Tear Built: Segregationist Academies in the South (Washington, DC: Acropolis Books, 1976); vol. 2, 21–22; Nordin and Turner, “More than Segregation Academies: The Growing Protestant Fundamentalist Schools,” 391–94; Crespino, Joseph “Civil Rights and the Religious Right,” in Rightward Bound: Making American Conservative in the 1970s, ed. Schulman, Bruce J. and Zelizer, Julian E. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008), 96; see also Laats, Adam “Inside Out: Christian Day Schools and the Transformation of Conservative Protestant Educational Activism, 1962–1990,” in Inequity in Education: A Historical Perspective, ed. Meyers, Debra and Miller, Burke (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, Rowman and Littlefield Press, 2009), 183209.

18 Sidney Cates [fundamentalist school founder and headmaster of Bob Jones Academy], personal communication, 9 June 2008.

19 See, for example, I. E. Howard, “Are Christian Schools the Answer?” Christian Economics 7 (February 1961); Tom Wallace, “Why Every Town in America Should Have a Christian School,” The Projector 5 (September 1976): 1–8; Hatten, Walter E.How to Start a Christian School,” Interest (September 1978): 11–12; Al Janney, “Five Steps to Begin a Christian School” (n.p., n.d., copy in Bob Jones University Fundamentalism File; Christian Day Schools file, file #14904).

20 Parsons, Inside America's Christian Schools, Nevin and Bills, The Schools that Fear Built: Segregationist Academies in the South; Alan Peshkin, God's Choice: The Total World of a Fundamentalist Christian School (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986); Rose, Susan D. Keeping Them Out of the Hands of Satan: Evangelical Schooling in America (New York: Routledge, 1988/).

21 Hobbs, DaytonChristian Schools–Blight or Blessing?,” The Projector 13 (March-April 1984): 1.

22 MacCullough, Martha E.Factors Which Led Christian School Parents to Leave Public School” (EdD dissertation, Temple University, 1984); Lewis, Peter StephenPrivate Education and the Subcultures of Dissent: Alternative/Free Schools (1965–1975) and Christian Fundamentalist Schools (1965–1990)” (PhD dissertation, Stanford University, 1991); Haycock, Ruth C. “Keeping the School Christian: Part 3,” Daybreak (February 1982): 5; Jordan, James B. “Are Christian Schools the Best Answer?,” The Biblical Educator 2 (April 1980): 1–2; Eidsmoe, John “Is Home Schooling Ever Advisable?,” Christian Crusade 36 (1989): 15; Gangel, Kenneth O. “Christian School Explosion,” Christian School Administrator and Teacher (Winter 1980): 10–11, 24; Cassidy, Calvin C. “Christian Schools: The Best Way?” Gospel Herald and the Sunday School Times (Fall, 1990): 8–9 [200–201]; Tom Mulder, “Home or Schooling for Covenant Kids?” Christian Educators Journal (October 1998): 10–11.

23 Fremont, Walter G.Straight Talk on Traditional Education,” Balance 2 (May 1982: 1.

24 Grauley, John E.Is the Christian School Movement on the Right Track?Biblical Bulletin X (Spring 1981).

25 Horton, ed., Christian Education, v [“state of confusion”]. See also Haston, Dr. WayneControlling Your School's Philosophy,” CIA Defender (April 1980): 1517; Dayton Hobbs, “The Christian Philosophy of Education,” The Projector 5 (March 1976): 1–2; Talbot, Gordon “Four Philosophies of Education,” Sunday School Times and Gospel Herald 1 (April 1981): 28–29 [220–221]; Parker, Monroe “My Philosophy of Christian Education,” (n.p., n.d., from Bob Jones University Fundamentalism File; Christian Education file, file #10624); Cates, Paul W. Christian Philosophy of Education (Hialeah, FL: American Association of Christian Schools, 1975).

26 Dalhouse, Mark Taylor An Island in a Lake of Fire: Bob Jones University, Fundamentalism, and the Separatist Movement (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1996), 2.

27 Marsden, George M. Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism, 1870–1925 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), 4.

28 Henry, Carl F. H. The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1947), xx.

29 Carpenter, Joel A. Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 217232 [Billy Graham]; Dalhouse, An Island in a Lake of Fire, 3 [“most dangerous man”].

30 Rushdoony, Rousas J. The Messianic Character of American Education: Studies in the History of the Philosophy of Education (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1963), 2 3. Emphasis in original.

31 Sr.Jones, BobWHY … Bob Jones University was founded; WHY … It has made so many world-wide contacts in so short a time; WHY … it does not hold membership in a regional educational association” (n.p., n.d., [1949?]), in Bob Jones University Archives, pamphlets folder; Bob Jones Sr., “Original Intentions of the Founder” (n.p., 1960), Bob Jones University Archives, pamphlets folder; Marsden, George M. The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).

32 Turner, Standing without Apology; Dalhouse, An Island in a Lake of Fire; Alan Peshkin, God's Choice, 135 [“imprimatur”], 63, 115.

33 Sr.Jones, BobOriginal Intentions of the Founder” (n.p., 1960), Bob Jones University Archives, pamphlets folder; Sr.Jones, Bob “Christian Education,” transcript of speech delivered at Dubose Bible Conference, February 1, 1939; transcript in Bob Jones University Archive, Educational Philosophy folder.

34 Hobbs, DaytonConcerning ACE,” The Projector 11 (February 1982): 1.

35 Fremont, WaiterProfile of a Superior Christian School,” audiotape of a speech delivered at New Beginnings conference, summer 1987, in Bob Jones University Archives.

36 “Alpha Omega Publications,” Family Resources 1 (Spring 1988): 1; “Home School Basic Resource Guide,” The Teaching Home (1987–1988): 3–4, 7–8; “Home Schooling Comparison Chart,” Family Resources 1 (Spring 1988): 36, 38, 40, 42, 44.

37 Rammel, Joseph A.The Authority of Scripture in Christian Education,” North Star Baptist 67 (November-December 1983): 4.

38 Cates, Sidney personal communication, 9 June 2008; B.C.S., “Letter to the Editor,” The Projector (June 1979): 2.

39 Coombs, GaryACE, An Individualized Approach to Christian Education,” Interest (September 1978): 910; “History and Development of ACE,” CLA Defender 1, no. 5 (1978): 6, 25–26; Accelerated Christian Education, Facts about Accelerated Christian Education (Lewisville, TX: Accelerated Christian Education, n.d. [1982]); Walter Fremont, “The Christian School Movement Today,” audiotape of lecture given 31 July 1989, in Bob Jones University Archive.

40 Coombs, GaryACE, An Individualized Approach to Christian Education,” 910.

41 Smith, Phillip personal communication, 5 June 2008; Walter Fremont, “The Christian School Movement Today,” speech delivered 31 July 1989, audiotape in Bob Jones University Archives; A. A. Baker, The Successful Christian School: Foundational Principles for Starting and Operating a Successful Christian School (Pensacola, FL: A Beka Book Publications, 1979).

42 Turner, Standing Without Apology, 265.

43 Baker, The Successful Christian School, 17.

44 Herbster, Carl D.Who Should Attend a Christian School?,” Balance 2 (January 1982): 1.

45 Fremont, WalterProfile of a Superior Christian School,” audiotape of a speech delivered at New Beginnings conference, summer 1987, in Bob Jones University Archives.

46 Horton, ed., Christian Education, 16 [“reciprocal”]; 7 [“personal knowledge”].

47 Wiggin, Eric E.Should Your Grade Schooler Receive ACE?Christian Life (August 1981): 41.

48 Coombs, GaryACE, an Individualized Approach to Christian Education,” 910; Dan B. Fleming and Thomas C. Hunt, “The World as Seen by Students in ACE Schools,” Phi Delta Kappan 68 (March 1987): 518.

49 Fremont, WalterThe Christian School Movement Today,” recorded speech, 31 July 1989, in Bob Jones University Archives.

50 Huber, George A.Christian Schools: Theory and Reality,” Evangelical Newsletter, Education Supplement, 3 September 1982, p. 1.

51 “1991/1992 School Statistics,” in Bob Jones University Fundamentalism File; Christian Day School file, file #070264.

52 “The Strengths and Weaknesses of the ACE program,” advertisement run in several fundamentalist publications, including The Searchlight (May 1986): 8–9; and The Fundamentalist Journal (May 1986): 38–39.

53 Donald Howard interviewed in “History and Development of ACE,” CLA Defender 1 (1978): 26 [“secular education professors”]; 6 [“where he is”].

54 Coombs, GaryACE, an Individualized Approach to Christian Education,” 910 [“clock and the calendar;” “motivation and control”]. See also Facts About Accelerated Christian Education, 8.

55 Grant, Charles D. and House, Kirk W.An Evaluation of ACE from a Reformed Perspective,” Journal of Christian Reconstruction 4 (Summer 1977: 66–67.

56 Facts About Accelerated Christian Education, 10 [scripture]; Linda Montgomery, “The 1978 Fall ACE Tour,” CLA Defender 1 (1978): 7 [scripture]; 8 [patriotic songs]; Mildred Morningstar, “What About that New Do-It-Yourself Approach for Christian Schools,” Moody Monthly (January 1975): 41 [student use of flags].

57 Facts About Accelerated Christian Education, 8; Howard, “History and Development of ACE,” 25.

58 Grant and House, “An Evaluation of ACE from a Reformed Perspective,” 67–68.

59 Howard, RonACE Responds” in Dan B. Fleming and Thomas C. Hunt, “The World as Seen by Students in ACE Schools,” Phi Delta Kappan 68 (March 1987): 520.

60 Fleming, Dan B. and Hunt, Thomas C.The World as Seen by Students in ACE Schools,” Phi Delta Kappan 68 (March 1987): 523.

61 Hobbs, DaytonChristian Schools—Blight or Blessing?The Projector (March-April 1984), 8.

62 Chadwick, RonaldACE: A Philosophical Analysis,” Christian Educators Journal (December 1981/January 1982): 18.

63 “In Perusal of Excellence,” Home School Helper II (Winter 1988) 1, 4 [“answer-checker”].

64 Chadwick, ACE: A Philosophical Analysis,” 1617.

65 Hobbs, DaytonAn Honest Look at ACE,” The Projector (February 1972), 6.

66 Thompson, David N.ACE: Another View,” Moody Monthly (October 1981): 78; Baker, The Successful Christian School, 19 [“instant school”]; “Widespread Dissatisfaction with ACE,” Blu-Print, 32 (February 1981) [theologically suspect].

67 Baker, The Successful Christian School, Appendix E “Some Books That Will Help You.” Books on the list included Max Rafferty, Classroom Countdown (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1970); Max Rafferty, Suffer Link Children (New York: New American Library, 1962); Rudolf Flesch, Why Johnny Can't Read (New York: Harper, 1955). See also Jonathan Zimmerman, “Storm over the Schoolhouse: Exploring Popular Influences upon the American Curriculum, 1890–1941,” Teachers College Record 100 (Spring 1999): 602–626.

68 Combee, Jerry H.Christian Education and Human Nature,” Pensacola Christian College Update (March 1980): 1; Combee, “Human Nature and Christian Education: The Connection between Discipline, Curriculum, and Methods,” in The Successful Christian School, ed. Baker, A. A. (Pensacola, FL: Beka Book, 2004), 176–77 [“jungles”].

69 Baker, The Successful Christian School, 29 131–34.

70 Combee, Human Nature and Christian Education: The Connection between Discipline, Curriculum, and Methods,” 185 188. Emphasis in original. See also “Philosophy of Pensacola Christian School,” in Baker, The Successful Christian School, 188.

71 Combee, Christian Education and Human Nature,” 1. Emphasis in original.

72 Combee, Human Nature and Christian Education: The Connection between Discipline, Curriculum, and Methods,” 175–76.

73 Baker, The Successful Christian School, 52 [kindergarten program].

74 Smith, Phillip personal communication, 5 June 2008.

75 Fremont, Walter G.Straight Talk on Traditional Education,” Balance 2 (May 1982: 1–2. Emphasis in original.

76 Ibid.; George D. Youstra, “Balanced Christian Education,” Balance 1 (May 1981): 1–2.

77 Horton, Ronald A. ed., Christian Education: Its Mandate and Mission (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 1992), 11 [“materials”]; 10 [“representing God”]. See also “How Do I Choose a Curriculum?” Home School Helper Starter Packet (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 1991), 4.

78 “And with All thy Getting …,” Home School Helper 1 (Autumn 1986): 3.

79 Ibid., [Exodus]; Horton, Christian Education, 20 [Deuteronomy], emphasis in original.

80 Combee, Human Nature and Christian Education: The Connection between Discipline, Curriculum, and Methods,” 176 [“nothing that might weaken …”]; 182. Emphasis in original.

81 Horton, Christian Education, 35 [“secular-humanistic educators”].

82 “Teaching Hints,” Home School Helper 1 (Summer 1986): 1; “Teaching Hints,” Home School Helper 1 (Autumn 1986): 1.

83 Horton, Christian Education, 20; “Comprehending Comprehension,” Home School Helper 3 (1989): 1–2.

84 Horton, Christian Education, 10 [“need not be tedious”]; 16 [“not passive but responsive”].

85 “Learning should be enjoyable,” Home School Helper 1 (Summer 1986): 1 [Jim Davis]; Home School Helper 1 (Autumn 1986).

86 Advertisement, Christian School Management Seminar,” Balance 2 (March 1983: 2; Program, New Beginnings and Christian School Management Seminar, June 29–August 2, 1991 (Bob Jones University archive); Phillip Smith, personal communication, 5 June 2008; Baker, The Successful Christian School, promotional material appendix; “A Beka Advertisement,” Sword of the Lord 29 (January 1982): 14; “A Beka Advertisement,” Christian Life (January 1985); Facts About Accelerated Christian Education 22; ACE Advertisement, “The Strengths and Weaknesses of the ACE program,” The Searchlight (May 1986): 9.

87 Peshkin, Alan God's Choice, 63 115, 135.

88 Cuban, Larry How Teachers Taught: Constancy and Change in American Classrooms, 1890–1980 (New York: Longman, 1984); Sidney Cates, personal communication, 9 June 2008; B.C.S., “Letter to the Editor,” The Projector (June 1979).

89 Characteristics of Private Schools in the United States: Results from the 2001–2002 Private School Universe Survey (NCES 2005–305), 27.

Forging a Fundamentalist “One Best System”: Struggles Over Curriculum and Educational Philosophy for Christian Day Schools, 1970–1989

  • Adam Laats

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