A place for longer education reflections and position pieces, generally titled Thoughts of Hope.

A Snapshot of Urban Education

Russ Gregg, Head of School

The below remarks were given by Russ Gregg at The Minneapolis Club on Thursday, May 16 for an event entitled “Faith-Based Schools and the Achievement & Opportunity Gap” highlighting the work of Hope Academy, Risen Christ School, Ascension Catholic School, and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.

Welcome everyone to a very special evening. My name is Russ Gregg, and I’m one of the founders and the Head of School at Hope Academy, a K-12 academy serving nearly 400 inner-city students at 23rd and Chicago Ave. Twenty-two years ago, my wife and I bought our first home and moved our family into the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis. While we were well aware of the pervasive poverty and the rampant crime and violence we were moving into, we soon came to understand there was an even greater crisis hiding beneath the surface.

The Urban Education Crisis

Right in the heart of the “education state,” our state—the state with the highest ACT scores in the country, there is a dark under-belly. Students of color in Minneapolis are the lowest academic performers of any major city in the entire country. They are dead last! Today only 33% of African-Americans and Latinos, and 22% of Native Americans in our city’s public school system will graduate high school in four years.

Do you know of any business that would tolerate a 70% failure rate? And of the 30% of students of color who do graduate from our public high schools, their average reading level at graduation is only eighth grade.

Minnesota has now been singled out nationally as the state with the largest achievement gap between white students and students of color. We are number one. What this means, is that for students of color in our city, most will achieve less academically than students in states like Mississippi or South Carolina. In the midst of all our prosperity, this enormous gap in achievement is a kind of benign racism, and it is scandalous.

And just when you thought this sad story couldn’t get any worse, we must understand that this crisis is increasing at an increasing rate. City planners estimate that Minneapolis’ population will grow by 65,000 people between now and 2025, and that growth will be almost exclusively among people of color—those currently suffering from the greatest disparities in academic achievement. So, if we don’t take dramatic action, the achievement gap we find totally unacceptable today, will be dramatically bigger in 2025.

 The Cost of Failed Education

The public cost of failed education in our city is just staggering. The Minneapolis Foundation estimates that the failure to graduate students of color at the same rate as white students will cost Minnesota’s economy $1.3 billion a year by 2020. Today, 1 out of every 9 African-American men in our country, between the ages of 20-24, is in prison tonight. And several states have figured out the link. They are building prison capacities based on 3rd grade reading scores. They’ve learned that if you aren’t reading by 3rd grade it greatly increases the likelihood of being incarcerated.

Waiting for Superman. Really?

Two years ago, when filmmakers made a major documentary exposing the crisis of urban education in our country, do you know what title they gave it? They called it, “Waiting for Superman.” Now, except for the spiraling growth of the federal deficit, I’m not aware of any other problem facing our country that’s so urgent and where leaders have felt so hopeless that they’ve started calling upon superheroes for help. When people are “waiting for Superman,” then you know you’ve got a crisis on your hands.

The Heart of the Problem

Many of you must be asking yourselves, why is this particular problem so different to solve? All of us in this room solve problems like this every day. Surely this one can’t be that difficult to fix. Can it? Actually, it is impossible to fix if you don’t understand the true nature of the problem.

In the beginning, I thought I had some ideas about how to solve the crisis of urban education, and some of those ideas were valid. But what I didn’t understand until later was what’s really happening in the urban family today.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate what happens to most inner-city kids. JaShawn was one of the 86.6% of African-American children born in Hennepin County to a single mom. His mother had high hopes for him and brought him to Kindergarten at their neighborhood school. JaShawn had a vocabulary of 500 words compared to a typical suburban Kindergartener who has a vocabulary of over 5000 words.

JaShawn is already way behind his suburban counterparts. In first grade, JaShawn began to learn to read. However there weren’t any books in his home, and his mom never read with him.

In second grade JaShawn began to get home work but there was no one at home to help him. The TV was always on and lots of strange men kept coming in and out of his apartment. Several times these strange men beat up JaShawn’s mom.

JaShawn often had to hide because he was afraid, and he really had a hard time concentrating in class the next day.

By third grade, JaShawn was already a grade and a half behind where he should be. And his teacher didn’t know what to do. Mom’s cell number was always disconnected. And she didn’t ever attend her son’s Parent-Teacher conferences.

By sixth grade, JaShawn found a new family to belong to—the Gangsta Disciples, and he started dressing in the colors of his new family. School was no longer interesting to him. Mom moved three times that year, and JaShawn attended four different schools.

Meanwhile JaShawn’s school spent $12 million to research and implement a new reading curriculum that they hoped would improve reading scores in the district.

What does JaShawn know in sixth grade? While driving in the car with his mentor, he heard a story on the radio about the London Philharmonic. His mentor asked him, “JaShawn, do you know where London is?”

“Don’t know.”

“England?”

“Never heard of it.”

“Well, what’s the largest city in the United States?”

“Las Vegas? O wait, I think that’s a state.”

By 10th grade JaShawn has dropped out of school. He has been in juvenile detention and fathered a child. He smokes weed most every day and is getting into more serious drug activity. JaShawn’s likely on his way to jail.

Why Widows and Orphans?

Have you ever wondered why God commanded his people to look out for and help the widows and the orphans among us? It must be because God designed every child to need both a mother and a father.

A child without a parent needs to be the special focus of our charity and our efforts to restore the urban family. Any effort to solve the problem of urban education that ignores the family is doomed to failure. Parents are the problem, and parents must become part of the solution.

Conclusion

Tonight you will be hearing from four non-public, faith-based schools, all located in the inner-city of Minneapolis, who are not “waiting for Superman” to solve the crisis of urban education. Instead, our schools have attacked the problem head on, and day after day, we are seeing the same high-poverty, “at-risk” group of students beat all the odds and become successful beyond our wildest dreams.

We believe that community leaders like those of you in this room, people who care deeply about giving equality of opportunity to all our citizens, would want to understand what makes our school’s approach so unique and so successful.

(12.23.13) George Müller, Christian Schools, & "Giving at Interest"

A man whose life inspires our Gospel work here at Hope Academy is George Müller (Sept. 27, 1805-March 10, 1898). Müller asked the Lord to provide, and God provided in miraculous ways. Müller’s Ashley Down orphanage cared for more than 10,000 orphans during his lifetime, and Müller also helped establish 117 Christian schools that educated more than 120,000 children, many of them orphans.

 On August 30, 1849, Müller received a fifty pound note from a donor (~$7,000 today), who had been a long-time supporter of his work. The gift was accompanied by these words: “This will be the last large sum I shall be able to transmit to you. Almost all the rest is already out at interest.”

 Müller knew that by ‘out at interest,‘ the giver meant that he had given nearly everything away to the Lord’s work — and was storing up for himself — at interest — treasures in Heaven (see Matt. 6:19-21).

 But in fact, it was not the donor’s last gift. Müller writes:

Since that time I have received other donations from the same donor, and much larger still. He used for God the means with which He was pleased to intrust him, and contrary to this brother’s expectation, the above fifty pounds was not the last large donation; for it pleased God soon after to intrust him with another considerable sum, which he again used for the Lord.

This did not at all surprise me; for it is the Lord’s order, that, in whatever way He is pleased to make us His stewards, whether as to temporal or spiritual things, if we are indeed acting as stewards and not as ownershe will make us stewards over more.

I am personally so grateful for all of our supporters, and your faithful stewardship in helping urban youth receive a remarkable, Christ-centered education since our founding in 2000. The past fourteen years and our nearly 400 students are just one evidence of the Lord’s honoring your generosity.

Our prayer, though, is that you would know that you are storing up treasures in Heaven — and you are doing so at interest. May the Lord make you stewards over more — to supply more of His work for eternity.

The Root & The Fruit of Education

Russ Gregg, Head of School

The phrase “The Peaceful Fruit of Righteousness” comes from the book of Hebrews, and it describes the design of God’s discipline in our lives. Though his discipline seems unpleasant at the time, the Lord is always seeking our good, and for those who are trained by the pain, God’s discipline produces this amazingly important fruit of righteous character.

Paul Tough’s new book, How Children Succeed, persuasively makes the case that the qualities that matter most in determining why some children succeed while others fail have more to do with the hidden power of character than high IQ—they have more to do with virtues like perseverance, optimism, grit, conscientiousness, and self-control. Character—not cognition—is central to success.

However, these same researchers seem clueless about just how to develop these all important virtues in the lives of children today. The problem as I see it, is that these educators are expecting to harvest the fruit of virtuous character apart from the root of the knowledge of God.

We all know what you get when you cut a tree from its roots.

The Book of Galatians tells us that you get “the desires of the flesh,” which are contrary to the Spirit.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

Sound familiar?

On the contrary, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

These are the very virtues researchers see as necessary for success.

Decades ago, C.S. Lewis foresaw the destructiveness of severing the fruit from the root, of separating the virtues we demand from the knowledge of God. In his treatise on education called The Abolition of Man, he wrote:

We continue to clamor for those very character qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a newspaper without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity, we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.

This fundamental disordering of our schools has indeed had disastrous effects on education, especially on the education of inner-city children.

Fourteen years ago, God led a small group of us to start a radically different kind of school for the children of our city. By God’s grace, and the help of people like you, we started a remarkable, Christ-centered school for inner-city children. And today, nearly 400 youth, from kindergarten through the 12th grade are receiving an amazing education that will prepare them to become the future servant leaders of our city.

Hope Academy has attacked the problem of urban education quite literally at its root — and day after day, we are seeing the same group of high-poverty, “at-risk” students beat all the odds and become successful beyond our wildest dreams.

 

The Loss of Truth in Schools

Russ Gregg, Head of School


Our campaign to grow Hope Academy will enable us to serve more than 500 students with a God-centered education by 2017. As we have learned these last thirteen years, we are dependent on God working through you, our Partners.

So I want to convince you and encourage you today. First, I want to convince you that growing Hope Academy for inner city youth is more important than ever. And second, I want to encourage you that your compassion is making a difference in lives here.

First, why is growing Hope Academy more necessary now?

Child Poverty is on the Rise

According to the U.S. Cen- sus Bureau, child poverty rose 56% in Minnesota during the last decade. In 2010, one out of every ten Minnesotans lived below the federal poverty line —annual incomes of less than $22,050 a year for a family of four or $10,830 for a single adult.

More recent figures suggest that poverty rates have increased even more, especially within Minnesota’s communities of color: 24.4 percent for Latinos, 37.2 percent for African-Americans and 39.5 percent for American Indians (footnote: link).

And we know that economic forecasts are predicting that this rise in child poverty is not going to change soon.

Despair & Death Among Teens

Also, teenagers are dropping out of school in record num- bers, joining gangs, and killing one another. In the last thirty days, four teenagers have been murdered in this area.

Despairing over one of the murders, a local parent said, “This is a group of kids that isn’t even old enough to drink, drive, or pay rent. I just want all the violence to stop.”

The Phillips neighborhood saw a 41% spike in theft, and a 25% spike in homicide rates from last year to this year. (footnote: link)

The most compelling reason to grow Hope Academy, however, is the loss of truth in our schools.

“Harvard is a case study of how the greatest univer- sities have lost their educational souls at the same time as they have achieved dazzling excellence.”

In 2006, the former dean of Harvard, Dr. Harry Lewis, wrote an important book called, Excellence Without a Soul: How a Great University Forgot Education. Lewis argues that true education is not the same thing as classroom teaching. He writes:

Over the years I have been at Harvard—nearly forty, if my student years are included—the quality of everything at the University has improved, except the most important thing. The students are smarter, the faculty more distinguished, even the pedagogy is better—but students are less challenged than ever to grow in wisdom and to become the responsible leaders on whom the fate of the nation will de- pend. Harvard is a case study of how the greatest universities have lost their educational souls at the same time as they have achieved dazzling excellence.

The great civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wrote similarly in his essay, “The Purpose Of Education”:

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think in- tensively and to think critically. But educa- tion which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gift- ed with reason, but with no morals.We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education. A complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.

Students at Hope Academy learn not only how to read and write with excellence, but also that they are created in the image of God, and therefore subject to God. They discover not only who they are, but also that God has a great purpose for their lives and how to live their lives in order to bless others.

Growing in Compassion

Second, I want to encourage you in your compassion for inner city children these last thirteen years.

Compassion is a beautiful thing in a person’s life. As a matter of fact, it’s God-like. When God declared his name to Moses, He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm 145:8). Compassion is God- like.

But how does God grow compassion? I think two things are required for compassion to flourish in a person’s life.

The first is a sense of God’s blessing and his call on every one of us to be a blessing to others. Four thousand years ago, God chose a pagan man, Abram, and his wife, Sara, to become his covenant people. In calling Abram, God told him how he would both bless him and also make him a blessing to others. In Genesis 12:1-3 we read,

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you…I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

The second thing necessary for compassion to flourish in a person’s life is a sense of shared suffering.

Compassion is developed in our lives when suffering becomes personal. Many times it’s suffering in my own life or the life of someone close to me that helps me to empathize with the suffering of others.

But I can also be touched by the needs and challenges of a complete stranger.

The key, I think, is making it personal.

For those of you who are Partners, you are compassionate because of your sense of God’s blessing in your life, and because you have made the hardship of a student here intensely personal.

Hope Academy is only possible because of our “compassionate and gracious God” working through you.

In addition to thanking God for his work through you, would you join me in asking the Lord if he might grow

his compassion for inner city youth in the hearts of hun- dreds more?

By 2017, our Long-Range plan is to serve 160 more inner-city students—a total of 550—with a God-centered education. May God’s compassion spill over from our lives into others.

Should it be His will to achieve it, may God get all the glory.

Minding the Achievement Gap

by Russ Gregg, Head of School

If you’ve ever ridden on the London Underground, you’ve heard the recorded message warning travelers getting on the train to “mind the gap”.

Here at Hope we are minding a very different gap-the achievement gap. But not all educators seem to mind.

Earlier this month I participated in a roundtable discussion coordinated by the Junior League of Minneapolis. The topic was how to close the achievement gap between white students and students of color, and I was one of four panelists-two of whom were public school educators.

After I defined the achievement gap, sharing that the size of the gap is larger in Minnesota than in any other state-I expected a substantive discussion on methods our respective schools are using to close the gap.

To my utter dismay, however, the other three panelists proceeded to deny that the achievement gap was a significant problem.  I sat stunned as they explained away the poor test scores in a whole variety of ways, saying things like:

“Standardized tests only measure a very narrow kind of intelligence…”

“There are plenty of people who don’t test well, but who still end up being successful in life…”

 “So many students are English Language learners, and so results on standardized tests are going to be low…”

This is my favorite-

“My students have so many issues outside of school, that they aren’t motivated to take the tests-they are really much smarter than how they test…”

I couldn’t help but feel pity for the students attending these schools, and I was convinced again of how vitally important our work is here at Hope Academy.

Here at Hope, standardized testing is important for holding teachers accountable, for demonstrating student mastery of academic content, and for targeting our interventions on students who are not making the grade.

By God’s grace, we are seeing amazing results in closing the achievement gap, with 97% of our high school students with 2+ years at Hope reading at or above grade level; and 88% of these same students performing at or above grade level in math.

The greatest evidence of closing the gap, however, are the post-graduation plans of our first class of seniors, who are graduating this spring. For many, they will be the first in their family to attend college. Here are just a few examples of their plans:

Merhawi Temnewo, for example, has received the $20,000 Horatio Alger Scholarship, and is receiving additional scholarship help to attend North Central University.

Giovanni Herrera has been offered a $40,000 scholarship to attend Concordia University (St. Paul), and hopes to receive a similar offer at Northwestern College, where he is accepted.

Leah Ferguson, a National Merit Finalist, has already been offered a full tuition scholarship to Cornell College (IA); and hopes to receive a full-ride offer from either Princeton or Dartmouth.

Alyssa Zink has been sworn in to the most selective military branch, the United States Air Force.

And all of our other seniors have been accepted at places like the College of St. Catherine’s (St. Paul), the University of Minnesota, Bethel University, Crown College, or Minneapolis Comm. & Technical College.

I am so grateful for your partnership in this important work of growing oaks of righteousness here in the inner city of Minneapolis.

One of you recently thanked me for being here in the front lines of the social justice movement in our country. All I could think to say was “right back at you.”

 

(2.17.11) A Very Different Sort of Urban Gang

In our neighborhood, if you see a mob of youth walking down the street at night, your first inclination is to run for safety. You know that the kids could be part of a neighborhood gang.

Two Saturdays ago, one of our neighbors saw more than one hundred students walking down Chicago Avenue, headed toward downtown. But these inner city youth seemed different–they looked mature, not frightening. She didn’t know any of the kids, but her first thought was: “those kids must go to Hope.”

Sure enough, they do. And Hope is indeed a very different sort of “gang”.

What she saw was 104 of our middle and high school students walking back to Hope from the Minneapolis Convention Center, where they attended a Christian youth conference called “Acquire the Fire.”

While other gangs were getting into trouble, our Hope group spent the entire weekend listening to teaching, singing and worshipping together, praying for one another, and asking for forgiveness.

 At assembly this past week, I had the privilege of hearing our students share their experiences from the weekend. One by one, students stood before their classmates and shared what God had begun to do in their lives. Over the course of two hours, nearly every single student shared–including 25 of our high school boys.

 Here is just a sampling of the things they shared:

  • “It felt like God did surgery inside my heart…”  
  • “I had an experience with God…”  
  • “God showed me that I am a sinner, and I gave my life to Christ…”   
  • “All the anger I had at people just melted away…”  
  • “I struggle with sexual sin, and God is showing me that he can help me focus on what is good and pure…”  
  • “I broke down in tears on Saturday night. Everyone I saw that I have hurt, I felt disgusted and started breaking down and crying and asking for forgiveness…”   
  • “God finally got my attention-I was heading down the wrong path for so long, but now I know I can turn around and head down the right path…”

Near the end of the time, an 11th grade boy–one of the school’s spiritual leaders–shared some words to encourage everyone. He concluded with this:

“God has touched our hearts-but we need to keep on like this. We can’t be fooled and go back to living by the pattern of the world. We can fight by the power of the Spirit. We have learned that we have the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead. If we have the Spirit of Christ, we will always win over the power of sin and the devil. I just encourage each and every one of you to be real with each other, and to encourage one another in the Lord.”

Thank the Lord with me for what he is doing in the hearts of our students. Know that because of your faithful prayers and generous giving, you are helping raise up a “gang” of a very different sort–a band of brothers and sisters, united by love and forgiveness, ready to serve one another and their neighbors.

Waiting for the Real Superman

Russ Gregg, Head of School

Often I get asked the question, “You are so successful at teaching inner city kids at Hope, couldn’t you remove the spiritual component of what you do and multiply Hope as a movement of government-funded charter schools?”

I asked myself the same question with the release of Waiting for Superman, a film that documents the heart-wrenching failure of our public school system to serve our nation’s most vulnerable: inner city youth.

The question the film invites viewers to ask is, where will change come from?

The film points to education reformers and privately-run, publicly funded, non-union charter schools as the central answer.

Moviegoers may be persuaded, but I’m still unconvinced.

While there is certainly a place for successful charter schools, inner city children need something more.

In fact, recent research in Minneapolis indicates that charter schools perform the same or slightly worse than their larger, public school counterparts. (For example, see the report “Failed Promises: Assessing Charter Schools in the Twin Cities” by the U of M’s Institute on Race and Poverty. Available at http://www.irpumn.org).

Kingdom School Culture
While Hope has certain surface-level similarities to charter schools (school uniforms, small classes, non-union, etc.), there are extraordinary differences.

Kristin Johnson has taught first grade at Hope for five years. She used to teach in a Minneapolis charter school.

“There’s so much more depth to teaching at Hope,” she says.

“Teaching at a charter school felt shallow. I wasn’t allowed to point kids to an ultimate reality, purpose, and reason for their learning.”

Other educators notice too. Recently, I was leading five experienced teachers on a tour. Functioning like a special operations task force, these teachers have worked in scores of public and non-public schools throughout the Twin Cities. Take my word for it; these teachers know schools.

After about twenty minutes of walking the hallways and visiting classrooms, one of the teachers turned to the others and said, “This place has such a great vibe!”

The others all nodded their heads in agreement, and another of the teachers said, “The school culture here is amazing! I love the spirit in this place.”

Of course, you and I know what they were sensing. Don’t we?

What they meant was, “I love the Holy Spirit in this  place. The Kingdom culture here is amazing.”

Holy Spirit Education
The simple answer to the charter school question is that Hope Academy couldn’t do all the good that we’re doing apart from the Holy Spirit.

Let me give you four examples of what I mean:

First, it’s only with the Holy Spirit that we can empower students to “turn the other cheek” when they are sinned against (Matthew 5:38-40).

One of our new high school boys is struggling to learn how to overlook an offense.

He’s learned elsewhere to threaten violence when sinned against, but at Hope we can teach him how to look to God for the power to forgive others and become a peacemaker.

Second, it’s only with the Holy Spirit that we can teach our students to make the vital connection that their teachers are appointed by God to serve them.

So when Hope students “listen and obey the first time” they are not only respecting their teachers, they are also honoring and obeying God. And God promises great blessing to all who honor Him.

Third, it’s only with the Holy Spirit that we can remind our students that our God is a God of justice who will defend the weak against the strong.

Therefore, we are empowered to teach students not to use their strength to bully the weak but to come to their aid to defend and protect them.

Fourth, it’s only with the Holy Spirit that we can teach students that their intellect, gifts, and talents are gifts from God. Students come to see themselves as stewards of His gifts, called to develop them and use them with excellence to the glory of God.

Of course, this kind of school culture produces academic excellence, but it does much, much more than that.

Most importantly, our prayer is that it will produce oaks of righteousness (Isaiah 61:3b), students who grow in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52).

Affordable for All
This kind of education is costly, which is why it is usually only found in wealthier suburban communities.

Despite the cost, I believe more than ever that public funding would effectively quench the Holy Spirit education that God has called us to provide for inner city families. As it is often said, with government shekels come government shackles.

Our financial partners, though, are doing the unthinkable. They are making Holy Spirit education affordable to all the youth of the inner city—an education that would otherwise be unaffordable for nearly all of our families.

I encourage you to go see Waiting for Superman and to weep with me at the state of our nation’s educational system. It is certainly a powerful film.

While you watch, however, remember that true change in the inner city requires much more than just charter schools and publicly-funded education reform.

True change begins in the hearts of students and parents. I only know one real Superman who can change the human heart: God. In a Christ-centered school like Hope, we have the great privilege to educate students to live for Him.

Each day, we as a community of staff and parents pray that God would send his Holy Spirit to help our students forgive others, honor authority, defend the defenseless, and see their gifts as God’s gifts.

Would you join with me in waiting on God to give true hope to more youth and families here in the inner city?

He is the only Superman truly worth waiting for.

 

Why We are Not a Charter School

by Russ Gregg, Head of School

Often I hear people mistake Hope Academy for a charter school. Hope is not a charter school for good reason.

Charter schools are merely another variety of public school. They receive all their funding from the government and are subject to most of the same rules and restrictions of government schools.

Not surprisingly, research has shown that charter schools, in general, perform the same or slightly worse than their larger, public school counterparts.

For inner-city students, that means more catastrophic failure. It’s like reshuffling the same hand of cards—different order, similar results.

Inner-city children cannot afford more educational failure dressed up in a new disguise. They need a radically different approach that only an independent school can provide: one that is free to teach the whole person—body, mind, and spirit.

Our laws currently prohibit devoting public funds to supporting faith-based schools. MN Statute 124D.10 Sub. 8 (c) says, “A charter school must be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations.”

It’s only fair that he who takes the king’s coin is the king’s man. Today, secular humanism is king in our society and our public schools. This has contributed to a downward spiral of disrespect and defiance of authority in schools that has made many students virtually unteachable.

In contrast, the Bible teaches us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Respect and honor of God is the foundation for all learning. That’s why I never grow tired of declaring, “The hope of Hope Academy is God.”

Our country’s greatness does not spring from our government’s benevolence, but from a citizenry that values liberty, initiative and enterprise. One liberty many desire, even those considered ‘poor’, is to educate their kids in the ways of God.

The Trustees of Hope Academy believe this liberty is more necessary than ever today in light of the growth of a contrary philosophy based on government paternalism.

Affirming our independence and resisting subsidization of our affairs by the Federal government, we acknowledge that failure is a possibility.

However, the Trustees place their trust in God and in the dedication and generosity of friends who share their vision.

With God’s help and your continuing efforts, we are confident that we can continue to provide inner-city young men and women with “a remarkable, God-centered education.”