Published August 24, 2022

Choosing Private or Public School

Written by
Lydia Hoverson
| The Dakotan


MINOT – Discussions of parental rights as well as public school versus private seem to be growing in this present time.

Two Minot men expressed their opinions on why parents are increasingly switching the enrollment of their kids from public to private Christian schools.

Bishop Ryan High School’s Father Jadyn Nelson and a parent from the school, Perry Olson, appeared on Fox & Friends First early Wednesday morning to discuss why they think this switch exists.

Nelson, who has been with Bishop Ryan for 10 years, said he believes the increased enrollment in private schools has to do with increased attention on education from parents.

“One of the things that is drawing people to look again at Bishop Ryan in particular, and other Christian schools in the area, would be that they desire a learning environment that corresponds with their values in terms of faith and morality,” said Nelson.

Nelson said he thinks the reasoning behind people switching to private Christian schools translates across state lines.

“There’s nothing specific about it that would be a regional situation or circumstance,” said Nelson.

Olson, who has three kids enrolled at Bishop Ryan, said he and his wife believe Catholic education is important for his family.

“The values we try to instill in our kids, we appreciate that continues on when they go to school with Father Nelson and his staff,” said Olson. “The values and information that they teach is a plus and it’s exciting to see a trend toward more and more religious education and private education. I think there’s numerous factors to that.”

Olson said he believes the Minot Public Schools are great.

“But there’s something that Bishop Ryan offers that Minot Public can’t, and that’s important to us,” said Olson.

Mark Vollmer, superintendent at Minot Public Schools, said Minot Public Schools have also increased their enrollment, and he doesn’t doubt that Bishop Ryan is receiving an uptick in enrollment as well.

“I’ve always said that our public education system is here to provide educational opportunity for all students and some of our families choose private or parochial options and that’s certainly well within their rights,” said Vollmer.

Vollmer said Minot Public Schools has a great relationship with the parochial schools in town, as they are co-oped in several sports. 

“Whether home school or parochial or public, that all falls within a parents purview and they can make the decisions based on what’s best for their family,” said Vollmer.

Vollmer agreed with Olson that Bishop Ryan offers certain educational items that Minot Public Schools can’t, and vice versa.

“When you look at the economy of scale, and the number of students we have, the chances of a smaller school offering advanced course work and such isn’t always the case,” Vollmer explained. “But that being said, we do have parochial school students who come to Minot Public and do take advantage of those advanced courses.”

While Fox and Friends First presented the angle of parents switching to private schools “in effort to combat the left’s ‘woke’ agenda”, Vollmer said he believes Nelson and Olson seemed to focus more on parents’ desire to have their kids’ teachings in the church. 

“A lot of discussion about wokeness in our public education,” said Vollmer. “At the end of the day, our job is to do the best we can to educate kids at all levels. I think we live in a very consevative area where people hold our schools to high expectations, and we believe that we should honor that expectation from our community.”

Vollmer encourages Minot parents who have concerns to call the teachers and principals at Minot Public Schools. 

“You hear about things like litter boxes in bathrooms,” Vollmer laughed. “We do not have litter boxes in bathrooms.”

Vollmer also spoke of ideas such as critical race theory that parents are concerned about.

“Critical race theory is not a curriculum, it’s a construct,” said Vollmer. “The idea that you look at everything through the eyes of racism. While we may talk about different points of views, it’s not critical race theory. We want to create an environment of individuals that know how to research and find the correct answers, but never through the lens of critical race theory.”

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