TCPS President Dr. Bill Balzano briefly described the history of the small school on North Lee Highway and its admittedly somewhat parochial view of the world, its new mission and its quest to become nationally recognized.
About 2 1/2 years ago, the name was changed from Tennessee Christian Academy to Tennessee Christian Preparatory School — a token change to reflect the change in vision to take it from a small school “with somewhat of a provincial view to serving a much larger section of our community.
“As a preparatory school, we are ratcheting up everything we do to make our school a real asset and a complement to this community. The new vision includes a very strong emphasis upon quality academics.”
He said a very important part of the new direction is that TCPS is first and foremost a school with the task of educating children.
“We believe it is Mom, Dad and their church and pastor’s responsibility to sew seeds of spiritual development and nurture the spiritual life of each child,” he said. “A school should not diminish, but serve to complement the spiritual teachings of the home.”
He said prayer will always be welcome before each TCPS football game, adding, “just pray that we have a football team so we can pray before each game.”
U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gary Farlow and two parents helped Dr. Balzano state his case.
Wamp said private Christian education is sacrosanct, must be protected and that is one of his hesitations about vouchers.
“I don’t ever want the government coming into the schoolhouse of a private Christian school,” because it receives direct or indirect funds, he said.
Wamp, who attended McCallie School in Chattanooga, said after he leaves office in January 2011, it will be the first time in 50 years a graduate of the private school has not been in the U.S. Congress.
Wamp is a supporter of public education and improving and bringing more accountability to it, “but my experience is, if you see the world as I do, if you have a biblical world view ... If you believe God is the center of the universe and that man is here for two reasons and two reasons only: to serve God and serve others; that everything stops and ends right there, then you know there is this great need in America today to bring up the next generation with the world view and the foundation for all truth, all knowledge and all education.”
Wamp repeated the words of John Adams, who said the U.S. Constitution was created for a moral and religious people and is wholly inadequate to govern any other.
“I’m not saying you have to be a Christian,” he said. “I’m saying if you don’t have that religious and moral code, this form of government we enjoy has too much freedom built into it. I would argue we can’t survive if everybody goes their own merry way.”
Farlow spoke of the positive economic outlook for Southeast Tennessee. The economies of Hamilton and Bradley counties are considered among the most vibrant in the United States.
Balzano said there are between 450 and 588 students attending private schools in Hamilton County. Approximately 21 percent of all of Chattanooga’s student population is enrolled in private schools as opposed to about 4.3 percent in Cleveland and Bradley County.
“Whatever that number, the amount of wealth transfer from Cleveland and Bradley County to Chattanooga and Hamilton County is an amazing amount of money in tuition and other dollars associated with school,” Dr. Balzano said. “There is no reason for a private school alternative not to be available in our community. We would like to make the case we are that choice.”