Creating a Movement: Calling the Church to Commit to Education Equity

What is the church’s role in addressing education inequity?

by AOC Director, Lallie Lloyd

The resolution we helped to craft, Resolution B005 “Quality Public Education for All” (available here in English and Spanish), calls for a church-wide symposium to explore this question.

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So, who do we mean by “the church”?

We are the church when we gather together to pray, reflect, or act in community. We are the church when we connect with our neighbors across boundaries of class, race, religion, and geography. We are the church when we go into the community, like the school down the street, expecting to meet Jesus.

So, what is the church’s role in addressing education inequity?

We’re not sure yet, but there are some things we know.

  • We know our public education system is unfair, inefficient, and costly; its benefits are unevenly distributed. Vulnerable children are often the least well-served.
  • We know our public education system is a complex social system with many layers and connected pieces: tax policy, teacher training programs, fifty statewide boards of education, corporate boardrooms, teacher professional development, assessments, textbook publishers, to name just a few.
  • We know our public education system is the best opportunity for children raised in poverty to achieve the dignity of self-sufficiency, the ability to support a family, and the opportunity to give back to their communities.
  • I believe, because I have seen it happen, that the church can be the vector of radical personal and community transformation. So can our public schools. If we advocate for them.

    We hope we are at the beginning of a movement to build the best public education system in the world. And we want the church out in front — calling attention to the urgency and the opportunity, bearing witness to God’s love of the orphan, the immigrant, the child living in poverty; calling our nation to account for the social evil that perpetuates vast wealth gaps across the generations. That’s why we want a symposium.

    Today, we can imagine a two-day symposium during the summer of 2017 that brings together a wide-ranging group of people to reflect, to pray, and to hear and tell stories. Stories about lives changed through mentoring and tutoring relationships and stories about neighborhoods transformed because congregations stayed engaged over decades. We can imagine encouraging and supporting local leaders to research the distribution of their local public resources (taxes or tax-supported public services) and how they align, or don’t, with local need. We can picture groups writing, speaking and reflecting on the theological, scriptural and historic resources the Episcopal Church has available to support engagement in our communities through schools. We can imagine that people leave this symposium energized to challenge future candidates for local, state-wide, and national elected office to make quality public education part of their campaign.

    After the symposium, a report will be written and submitted to General Convention 2018. And, perhaps more importantly, the church — we the church — will be questioning the root causes and solutions to education inequity. The best and longest lasting impact of the symposium might be the active participation and engagement of the church in our local schools’ crisis, and that would be a church that really matters.

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