Please Support PA School Vouchers

If you have not heard, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is considering a bill in Harrisburg which would, over a 3 year phase in period, provide vouchers for those families that are unable to afford to send their children to a private school.

OF COURSE, this would be a TREMENDOUS boost to The Lutheran Academy – and all other private schools. Certainly one of the biggest prohibiting factor that automatically keep folks from even considering The Lutheran Academy is the cost – especially here in Scranton (this is the case EVEN THOUGH we can tell folks that no one has ever been turned away simply because they cannot pay.) Private schools in more affluent communities are able to survive just because they can charge $5,000 (or more) and still retain a student body. Here in Scranton it is extremely difficult to ask very much for tuition. The working class poor that we have often just struggle to make basic ends meet. A bill like this, if passed, would certainly give a Christian family the LIBERTY to consider options for their children’s education.

I guess I really like this bill because it is limited to helping those who are unable to afford a private school tuition. Yes, the public schools (which we all DO need to support in every way we can) would take a hit, but it would be a more limited one because not ALL kids would receive a voucher – ONLY those who can’t afford it. I am not actually aware of the voucher’s amount. I see one suggestion that it is $9000, which is what it costs our Public schools to educate a child for a year. But I would be happy to see that actually lowered to say “whatever the tuition is for the school – up to $9000” – or something like that.

Here at the Academy we spend $3500-$4000 per student/year, and our tuition is half of that. Of course it operates on a lot of goodwill and cooperation – as well as just practicing that good old fashioned virtue of thriftiness. Because we are small and focused we are able to manage ourselves much more easily than a school with 500 kids! Our Teacher/Principal, Angela Scheller, makes a marginally fair salary. Of course she could be making quite a bit more in a public school, but as we know, money is not the key to a happy career! Thank God! But our administrative assistant Eileen Duffy this year is paid quite poorly, and of course Roger Borchin, our Directing Principal has always volunteered his time completely now for several years.

If a voucher program is passed, The Academy could at raise our tuition and not have to worry that we were pricing ourselves out of the consideration of 99% of the population. We could actually pay our staff better, invest in our equipment and curriculum, and just feel a whole lot better about our financial viability.

MORE importantly, Christian parents would have the option of a beautiful place for their children to learn and grow and be nurtured in the Christian faith as they learn how to serve man and God.


If you would like to see this bill passed, please let it be known to your senator and representative:

Here in Scranton you can send a letter to Rep. Murphy by clicking here:

Here is a sample letter:

Dear [recipient name was inserted here],

I am writing to ask you to pass Bill 1 in its current form and any other
legislation that would implement school voucher programs in Pennsylvania.

As much as I DO support our public schools, it is imperative that we
support families who are, for whatever reason, in need of another option
for their children’s education and unable to afford it.

Please pass Senate Bill 1.



[your name]



Letter to Maureen Dowd

The Ms. Maureen Dowd wrote an “Opinion” piece that appeared in the NYTimes today titled “Forgive me, Father, for I have Linked” which describes a new iPhone app that “guides Catholics through — and if they are lapsed, back to — confession.”

There are not many commentators that get me more upset than Ms. Dowd as she continually beats up on the church. The following is the letter I sent back to her. You can pray for an open heart if she actually reads it!

Being a Lutheran Christian I am certainly not party to much in Roman Catholicism, much less a silly confession app… But yet I can’t help ask “What is the purpose of such an “opinion” piece?” It has no obvious point. It has no stated “opinion”. It is more like a regular news article – except of course it isn’t! It is nothing but a thinly masked slander of your favorite punching bag, the church. Tongue and cheek you say? Maybe some could write this piece and get away with it. But not you!

Ms. Dowd, the church is not a perfect place. No matter what God’s plan for us is, the fact remains that the church is made up of human beings. It is filled with sinners who have missed God’s mark. The whole main point of being a Christian is not that we are without sin and perfect, but that we are sinners – sinners that are forgiven by Christ. It is the task of the church to name sin as sin, preach repentance, and cling to the cross of Christ. We do this (however imperfectly) even as the rest of the world rejects wholesale the concept of sin, judgment and ultimate truth.

My complaint is that you use your very public “pulpit” all too often to “pontificate” on issues that quite frequently you have no idea about. Are you theologically and exegetically trained? Do you know Greek and Hebrew to decipher the meaning of scripture you so often throw around? You seem to think that simply because you were raised a “Catholic” you have something substantial to say. The issues of the church are not issues of “opinion”. They are issues about what is true and what is false. We ought to be debating them that way, in great awe of the One who reveals truth and IS Truth. You state that not much is sacred today. This is correct. But I am not sure that anything I have read of yours concerning the sacred does anything to reinstate it.

Ms. Dowd, it is very possible to rail against the the faults of the church without being disrespectful. All we ask is that you treat us with a measure of respect. Don’t do it because of who we are, but simply because the church is the (however cracked) earthen vessel of God’s very person and presence here on earth. If you “preached” as you do against Islam or any other religion – you would most certainly lose your job. But for some reason it seems so easy and acceptable to delight in tearing down the church.Enough is quite enough!

And I say this with all sincerity:

God bless you.

Kristian Bjornstad