Parents don’t have to be stuntman Evel Knievel to make the leap from traditional public education to something better. It just takes a little courage.
So says Christine Stigall, who teams up with her husband and long-time talk show host Chris Stigall in an education podcast launched this year called “Making the Leap.” The project is an initiative of the Herzog Foundation, which publishes The Lion.
The Stigalls don’t just talk the talk. They made the leap themselves, placing their daughter in a Christian school after the failures of her public school became too much.
“I think the key for me was having a realization that I needed to just step out in faith,” Christine told The Lion. “It wasn’t going to make everybody happy, it wasn’t going to be received well by all my friends, but I had to really decide that I was going to rely on my convictions that stem from my faith … I would be looking out for not just my kids but other kids – and also hopefully encourage other parents to do the same. ”
In the third episode, “The Final Straw,” the Stigalls talk about the nagging sense that their children’s public school education was lacking.
“It’s interesting, the things politically that we were willing to put up with,” Chris admitted in hindsight, “things that have nagged us and bothered us for a very long time, that we were kind of willing to swallow.”
But the final straw fell during the COVID-19 pandemic, when their children’s public school would not let students return to in-class instruction after months at home. Making matters worse were the concerns about radical curricula that were exposed by remote learning. They knew they had to do something.
First, Christine mustered the courage to address the board at their Pennsylvania public school during a meeting.
“We’ve sat and analyzed the tuition costs, the costs of moving, the benefits we’d have elsewhere,” Christine warned the school board, voicing the “no-other-choice” feeling she and other parents were experiencing. “And yet the most disturbing part was that, when we asked our kids what they wanted and what they thought, they weren’t even fazed.
“My 16-year-old, my 15-year-old and my 12-year-old – they’re totally uninvested, and they’re totally removed because of what this district has done.”
The “benefits elsewhere” brought the Stigalls to a Christian school in Kansas City, where their youngest now attends eighth grade.
The Stigalls aren’t alone, but are joined by parents around the country demanding accountability in public education, respect of parental rights, age-appropriate curriculum, and the offering of more educational choices.
“Public education as currently structured and funded is in real trouble, and for good reason,” Chris told The Lion, drawing on years of covering news and politics on talk radio. “Finally, elected leaders of both parties can no longer ignore what taxpayers are demanding. If we must pay taxes for education, we must also be allowed to direct the money toward an education we feel can best impact and influence our children – and most of all, in which we can actively participate.”
And arguably, it’s the mothers making the biggest impact.
“I think as mothers we are designed to be nurturers and encouragers,” Christine said. “And I don’t think that should be a passive endeavor. I value the time I was able to get into the classrooms when my kids were younger and help with a variety of events at school – and in doing so I was able to connect with teachers and staff and administrators throughout the building and help establish that partnership.”
When Chris considers what dads and husbands can do to help, he quips, “Stand back!”
“I’ve found personally my wife has the ability to influence and communicate with a constituency of moms in ways I, as a dad, just can’t,” Chris explained. “I’ve seen many dads speaking out and leading, but I have to give the edge to mothers because there’s a uniqueness to the way they talk about raising and teaching kids.”
For parents who know their children’s education is not what it could or should be, “Making the Leap” promises to reveal the plethora of excellent educational options, lay out a road map for making the switch, and offer hope and motivation along the way.
“This podcast has opened my eyes to the veritable buffet of really high-quality educational options that exist to parents if they’re just willing to think outside the confines of the traditional structure of public education,” Chris said. “Kingdom education, classical Christian education, homeschooling, Montessori education – there’s far more out there for parents who desire better for their kids’ educations than I ever understood.”
“The days of telling parents there’s only one option for your kids, you’ll like it and you’ll have nothing to say about it, are mercifully coming to a close,” Chris added.