In order for public education to survive the ever-increasing push for “choice,” it needs widespread support. This includes active support from the Christian community.
On February 07, 2017, Andrea Reyes Ramirez, executive director of the Faith and Education Coalition – NHCLC, published an article in Christianity Today in which she calls upon Christians to support America’s public schools.
Her article is entitled, “Under DeVos, the Real School Choice Christians Face.”
I am a Christian. I believe that I need a Messiah, and I believe that Christ is that Messiah. I am also an unequivocal supporter of traditional public education.
School choice funnels money away from the traditional public school, and US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has an established history in actively undoing the community school even as she uses her billionaire buying power to advance free-market ed reforms.
I do not view DeVos’ buying legislators in order to impose her will upon Michigan public education as Christlike behavior. Her actions hurt people, and she has demonstrated her willingness to ignore such evidence and proceed with her agenda.
I wondered what other Christians thought, if indeed any had written in Christian publications in support of public education.
Thus, I was pleased to find Ramirez’s article.
There is some language (e.g., about “high standards” and “low-achieving schools”) that could have taken me down some rabbit trails, but I chose not to go there. The overall tone of Ramirez’s piece is one of support for public education.
A new administration’s nominee for Secretary of Education doesn’t usually steal the show. Betsy DeVos made headlines during her prolonged and contentious nomination process which ended in approval today. While some evangelical supporters of homeschooling, private school, and charter school options are celebrating a school choice advocate’s appointment to this all-important role (and a graduate of the evangelical liberal arts school, Calvin College, at that), other conservative Christian public school parents and advocates are disheartened by DeVos’s limited personal history with our nation’s public schools (she has mentored in public schools but not attended, taught, or sent children to public schools).
In light of varying perspectives about this appointment, Christian leaders will need to think afresh about their relationship to local public schools, where more than 90 percent of America’s children are educated. What comes next for these students will dramatically influence the future of our nation and our nation’s global impact. …
…Our role as Christian leaders within the community can be to actively engage in conversations around education equity issues like accountability, state vision, and transparency and accessibility in reporting so parents and community leaders alike have the needed information to know how to best support strengthening local schools. …
Regardless of the educational options available or schooling choices made for their own children, Christians can serve and strengthen public schools through volunteering as tutors or reading partners. By staying abreast of issues impacting access to high-quality education like accessible and timely school reports for parents, we can discover specific ways our churches can help to support their local schools. We can also advocate for students whose parents may not speak the language at local public forums in their communities.