Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Duane M. Covrig

Second Advisor

Sylvia Gonzalez

Third Advisor

Gary Gifford


Problem. The Seventh-day Adventist elementary and secondary schools in the USA show a continuous enrollment decline. This study’s goal is to explore the reasons SDA parents give for why they do not send their children to SDA schools.


The participants were limited to the church members of the Lake Union Conference. Qualitative methodology was used in this study. Three groups of participants were selected using criterion sampling—non-home-schooling parents, home- schooling parents, and administrators. Data collection occurred through in-depth interviews, focus groups, and a one-question survey. The interviews were audiotaped. The tapes were transcribed verbatim, coded, and grouped into themes. Analysis and interpretation were verified by some participants, peer reviews, and triangulation.

Results. Financial issues were the most cited reason for non-attendance. Home-schooling was the next great competitor. Home-schooling parents had noticed the lowering of school values and standards, and the strong influential power that some peers had on others. The students’ styles of dress, conversations, and demeanor no longer impressed them. Other non-home-schooling parents sent their children to public schools because these institutions have more resources, more qualified teachers, and better facilities. Public schools offered a wider range of subjects, competitive sports and scholarships, extracurricular activities, music, after-school programs, and other free services.

Many SDA teachers work at public schools, and parents claimed that they took better care of their children. SDA academies were located too far away from home, and transportation caused parents to worry about their children’s safety. A few parents withdrew their children from SDA schools due to perceived unresolved conflicts.

Changes in student population are affecting SDA schools, and some pastors were not supporting Christian education.

Conclusion. Many SDA children are deprived of a Christian education due to lack of finance. Home-schooling parents are diligently controlling their children’s educational, spiritual, and moral training. Some non-home-schooling parents see public schools as better than SDA schools. Other non-home-schooling parents want schools to be located in close proximity to their homes. Parents, teachers, pastors, administrators, superintendents, and their staff must work together to educate all SDA children.

Subject Area

Seventh-day Adventist children, Seventh-day Adventist youth, Seventh-day Adventists--Education (Secondary), Seventh-day Adventists--Education (Elementary)

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