Adam Smith is acclaimed by historians as being the “father of modern economics.” His 1776 treatise, The Wealth of Nations, is still published and widely read, and its influence seems hardly diminished over time. Its ponderings have bolstered generations of subsequent economic thought. Margaret Thatcher was reportedly such a devotee that she would regularly carry a copy of Nations in her ever-present handbag.
Among Smith’s lasting contributions to microeconomics is the concept of “economies of scale.” Theorizing about the characteristics of free-markets, he coined the enduring idiom “the invisible hand.” What can those who lead 21st century Christian schools possibly learn from an 18th century economist? My belief is “Plenty!”
Trinity Christian School sits at the crest of a gentle hill in a largely residential suburb. Founded in the mid-1960s, Trinity moved from the inner-city to its present location slightly more than a decade ago, after the members of its sponsoring church voted to rebuild on more acreage. Its current facility—a wing of the new church complex—is spacious and well-equipped. Nevertheless, the decentralized new location likely hastened declining enrollment. Students once numbered over 600; today there are about 200. The school’s budget is now stretched tight, with revenues scarcely meeting essential expenses. Raising tuition to increase revenue doesn’t seem feasible; the administration fears that doing so would force some current families to leave. Although there is no imminent crisis, church elders have privately discussed the possibility of closing the school should its financial situation worsen.
“the education of our children should be regulated at the state and local level, one- size-fits-all national standards are not the answer to improving public schools, and in many cases do not meet the higher standards states hold their school systems to”