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Chapter Six

How to Start A Christian Daycare

Rev. Ellsworth E. McIntyre

Founder of Grace Community Schools & Early Childhood Education Pioneer

Chapter Six

Why My Plan Works

Customer is Sovereign

Why does my plan produce a profit while others cannot? Very simply put, the business that succeeds best serves the customer best. The customer is the sovereign of the marketplace. Serve that king and good things happen. Cross the customer/king and bad things happen. Public schools serve the politician first, not the customer first. Church schools serve the church first, not the customer. Both public and Christian schools refuse to live and die for profit. Instead, they speak in great swelling, lofty tones of service to God in the case of the church, or service to mankind in the case of the government. As a consequence, they serve poorly all concerned. It will be my sad duty one day to accuse them before the throne of God.

However, there are limits to the customer’s sovereignty. If we were to provide just what the customer wants in a strict bowing to the sovereignty of the customer, we should throw out all Bible instruction. Instead, we assure the parent that we will not push a particular church or a controversial Bible doctrine. You see, we believe the customer should get what she wants up to a point, but ultimately, we serve another master. Does that seem strange? Well, doesn’t the public school serve a purpose other than the parent? Also, doesn’t the church school? Also doesn’t the humanistic school? A careful examination will reveal that, of all schools, ours serve the customer best, because we do not receive tax money, church money, United Fund money, or any funding other than the customer’s. As a result, our product must please the customer or we die. We have no alternate money source to corrupt our system. We do, however, teach the Bible. We ultimately serve the Lord.

In my system, the customer pays a competitive tuition for a product he is willing to buy. The public system has a product that more and more will not accept, even when it seems free! The church has a product too often, at least in the customer’s view, only slightly better than the public school.

In my system, the teacher is the owner. The teacher lies down to sleep and awakes with one thought in mind—how to serve the parent better than his competitors. Why? Because he wants a profit for his family. Is that bad? Well, listen to the Apostle Paul, “I press toward the mark the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus; henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown [reward]” (Phil. 3:4). If reward was good enough to make Paul run, it is good enough for me. Or consider Matt. 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God... and all of these things shall be added unto you.” What things? Matt. 6:33 in context is referring to Solomon’s wealth. In other words, obey as did Solomon and enjoy earthly treasure as did Solomon. The verses are far too numerous to list here but suffice to point out that labor for a reward is not unholy when pursued to the glory of God. Those who deny incentive for reward are the ungodly among us. As a matter of fact, chief among the ungodly who scoff at reward are communists and their brother socialists. We all know, since Russia and her satellites have collapsed, how poorly systems work without the profit motive. Schools and churches can hope for no better fate as long as they refuse to kneel before the law-word of God.

Advertising Pays Off

In the public system, advertising is usually not used except as a public relations gimmick. For example, in my county, it is popular to have a bumper sticker saying, “I have an honor student at name of public school.” Considering the depressed levels of scholarship at public schools, I am not sure what the sticker signifies.

Private schools typically regard advertising as a stigma of being second-rate. Reverse snobbery then prevents extensive and open use of advertising by private schools.

My system, on the other hand, will inspire the owner/ teacher to overcome his anti-advertising mentality. Profit motive will, most likely, even impel the teacher/owner to find many noble reasons to advertise, such as public service, or improving the climate of education through healthy competition, or best of all, to win children to Christ. Marvelous thing about my system—it brings out the noble, selfless spirit in parents.

Parental Sovereignty

Our society has produced situations which require both parents to absent themselves from the home in order to earn a decent living. Religious zealots will argue that mother should stay home under all circumstances. For example, I have had my advertisement for those interested in working in or owning a private daycare/school rejected by “churchy” publications on the basis that “daycare just does not fit our philosophy.”

On another occasion, a woman telephoned me long distance from Texas to complain about my school. It seemed some women in her Presbyterian church were going to meet and discuss starting a church school using a daycare as a building platform. She called to ask how I could justify enticing women to leave their children to work outside the home. I tried to explain that my parents are single for various reasons, in addition to economic reasons. There is divorce and similar situations. As Christians, we should be ready to evangelize children from such homes. Repeatedly, she kept saying, “Yes, but how can you provide your service without tempting mothers to work?” The phone connection was very poor. I offered to call back. She said, “It won’t do any good; the mobile phone in this limousine is always full of static.” Amazingly, I thought how can this woman ever really feel and understand the plight of a mother who must work?

Let us admit that the McIntyre educational system is very successful. As a result, we draw children into our school from homes where the mother does not really have to work. Yes, we do draw such children! But is that a reason to turn our back on mother’s who must work? Should we withhold the gospel from children of poor or broken homes? We choose to serve and obey the Lord by meeting the needs of the working mother and her needy children.

Customer Pays a Competitive Tuition

The tender conscience of the Christian should consider that the working mother can get child care from many, many non-Christian sources. The rate is set by the marketplace. Several large national chains are traded on public stock exchanges. We are not providing services that cannot be purchased at a price, but we may be providing the only Christian alternative at a fair competitive tuition. The question best framed then is, “Shouldn’t we meet the anti-Christian product and rate? Shouldn’t we compete for the heart and soul of that child?”

Let us also recognize that the customer sometimes does not want a Christian daycare/school. The Bible component is looked on as a negative by many parents.

Who Has the Need for Our Service?

All of our customers, both Christian and non-Christian alike, believe they need to buy our service. We do not force our service on anyone. The customer enters voluntarily into our system, choosing our service from among all competing services.

What the Market Really Wants

Let us consider what the school customer really wants. My system offers safe care from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on a year-round basis with only the normal ten paid holidays. That is what the working mother wants. She does not want only 180 school days per year and supervision for only 5 to 6 hours per day.

We offer genuine academic subjects even to children age two. Our average K-5 graduates score on national standardized tests at the second-grade level. Bright children often read at the fifth-grade level. That is a product a mother wants, not the child who watches television all day. Do not misunderstand; we provide plenty of play time, but unlimited play can be boring. We are experts at making school “fun.” A proper mixture of work and play makes a life worthwhile and “fun” for both adult and child. Too much of either one goes against the grain. Just allow a tractor, an electric lineman, a plumber, or any kind of work activity come in view of a playground. What happens? All of the toys suddenly lose their charm. The children press against the fence yelling endless questions, “What are you doing? Why?” etc. When you work at home, are not your children forever under foot? Meaningful work is fun! The child wants meaningful activity, and the mother wants education with activity for her child.

Teacher Is the Owner of the School

The teacher is in control of his capital. Ownership is central to forecast the direction that any organization will follow. When the government owns the school, very predictable results follow. The student will be taught that government is the proper place to go to solve his problems. Ask any American product of the public system his solution to nearly any problem, and his answer will nearly always contain this premise, “The government should do something about that.” The knee-jerk reaction to pollution, energy shortage, homeless people, population control, low-cost housing, gay rights, civil rights, etc. (the problem varies, but the solution seldom does), “There ought to be a law or a government program” is the sure and certain response of the brainwashed public school product. Those who wish to manipulate America into more socialism need only dream up or drum up or point out real or imaginary problems. Child abuse, spouse abuse, you name it—and the inveterate response of the semi-educated American will be less private property, more public property or control, or both.

More growth, faster growth, and runaway growth of big government is the inevitable trend of a society when schools are owned and controlled by government. The one to whom you turn for the ultimate answer to your problems is your god. Our children have been taught to turn to government as the ultimate answer to all their problems. In other words, they have been taught to worship the government.

The Perverted Church vs. the Word of God

If the church controls the school, the direction of society is equally predictable. The child will be taught that the church is the ultimate good and perfect answer for most problems. A society that educates its young in church schools will surely bend the knee to the church by and by. Napoleon unwittingly ensured that result when the young of France were allowed to be taught in church schools. A new generation arises more quickly than old men realize. The maxim “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,” is true beyond dispute.

Under my system, the teacher controls his own property. The teacher controls his own curriculum. The teacher controls his relationship with the children and parents. That is an advantage in every way! My system is the ultimate decentralization except perhaps for a total home school system (not a bad system either). The parent replaces the state, church, and the all-powerful central educational agency for directing the education of the child. The teacher cannot resist the desires of the parent when the parent has many competing schools, all dependent upon his tuition money. Do most parents want reading, math, and science more than social engineering? We all know the answer to that question. Under which system would most parents get what they want? Do not most parents want the values of the Ten Commandments taught?

The More Central the Control, the More Unlimited the Evil

The genius of capitalism is decentralization vs. communistic centralized totalitarian government. An important lesson of history is that, given the evil in man, the more central the control, the more unlimited the evil. Limited power has always been the best solution to most problems. Good schools check and balance bad schools, just as bad men are checked and balanced by good men, provided that good men are free to own and control private property. Where did that idea come from? “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20)—two of the Decalogue of God’s law demand private property. An evil government teaches that public land for “all the people” is always best. An evil church teaches that the church should sanctify the land by its ownership. “Give it to God,” they say. God’s word, on the other hand, teaches, “A good man layeth up for his children’s children.”

Private property owned by families is the Bible’s model of control. Is it any wonder that, as a general rule, the larger and more powerful the government or church, the lower esteem in which the law of God is held? This educator prays for the day when most education will be controlled by families or small decentralized churches, or individual Christian educators subject to the law of God. We can never have a perfect school system, because we do not have perfect men. We at least should have a decentralized system. In an imperfect world of imperfect men, a decentralized economy, decentralized government, and a decentralized school system are the best of all possible worlds.

How to Keep Schools Decentralized

It does not take much faith to believe that if a teacher’s salary is directly dependent on pleasing his client, the school will serve the client. Likewise, it is easy to believe that if a teacher’s pension is independently based on private investment, the sticky, incompetent hands of the government will not rob or influence the teacher. Most of all, I am sure that if the school building is to be an inheritance for the teacher’s children, the building will be lovingly maintained, free from graffiti, and a credit to the aesthetics of the community. I am also certain that advertising should be part of the teacher’s sales tools. A free market produces a surplus of quality goods and services, which makes advertising a must for those who serve a free market. Only a closed market can long survive without salesmanship. It is the Christian way and should also be the American way.

Cost-Cutting is Rewarded

My system produces a profit. Because we are all students of teachers who deprecate profit, did not know how to make a profit, and are apt to regard profit as a crime, we need to justify earning money. Surprisingly, schools not operated for a profit are the most expensive. America’s public schools spend more per pupil than any other advanced country for the worst results of any advanced country. New Hampshire, for example, spends less than most states per pupil, but still has the highest average test scores in the entire nation. The taxpayer is victimized under the government nonprofit system. Remember that the secret goal of all government is to get more people on the payroll, not to improve the service. Bungling inefficiencies are welcome, because such failure stimulates hiring more people to correct the problem. The problem is this: those trained by the government have been educated in the wrong direction. They cannot believe government itself to be a bad idea; they envy and despise the profit-making, enterprising schools. Someone has substituted black for white and white for black!

When a private school makes a profit, the parent is not victimized but served. The school’s profit cannot long be kept a secret. Competitors will enter the market and keep on entering until the margin of profit is down to the place where new competitors see the profit as too small for competitive risk. A high profit then ensures that the supply of schools will increase. A high profit also cushions the school against the risk of recession and unexpected rise in costs. A high profit means that the best teachers will seek the private sector for its higher salaries. In short, for the same reasons that capitalism is superior to all other systems, profit, if not gained by fraud, rewards all concerned.

Growth of the School is More Rapid

Luke 14:29-30 reads, “Lest haply after he hath laid the foundation and is not able to finish it. All that behold it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” These verses describe the wisdom of advance planning. Our school plan must be one that has the most promise for victory. Why follow the plan of the public school? Has that system produced what we want? Likewise, is the Christian church school likely to grow as rapidly and prosper as well as a school run for profit? Now is the time to sit down and count the cost. We will well deserve the mocking derision of our enemies if we fail to learn from the defeat of others. The problems of other schools, referred to in this book, are advantages to anyone who builds by my plan. If public, private, and Christian schools refuse or cannot grow as intelligent, self-interested enterprises, that is so much the better for us. The next chapter will outline a few of the secrets of my success, which can make your enterprise intelligent and rewarding.