As students begin to return to the classroom, we are reminded of the ever growing needs of our public education system. Communities of faith do have a responsibility to be advocates for our students and the people who work in our schools. Our responsibility is grounded in our moral foundation that all people should be able to flourish and be who God created them to be. It is not, however, grounded in toxic evangelism and the whitewashing power of Christian nationalism that far too often uses the public school systems to funnel toxic theologies and ideologies. Churches and communities of faith are called to foster life giving education while being true to history, science, and facts.
Here are just 5 ways people of faith can advocate for public education:
- GET INVOLVED WITH SCHOOL BOARDS
School boards are where decisions about your local school districts happen. Attend school board meetings or if you feel called to do so, run to be a member of your local school board. As we continue to see the rise of right-wing ideologies within our school system, we need more and more advocates on our boards who fight for fact and truth within our education systems.
- ADVOCATE FOR MORE SCHOOL FUNDING
Every year, we see increased need for school repair, technology, lunches, and increased teacher’s salaries. Some teachers pay out of their own pockets to get the material and the resources they need for their classrooms. How can we let this happen? Call your representatives and demand more funding for our public schools and to close loopholes that funnel tax payer money to private schools.
- CURRICULUM REFORM
What our children learn matters. What is written within and left out of curriculums matter. It is vital for the work of justice for students to learn what actually happened in history and not a whitewashed version of “facts”. Investigate what your child is learning or, if time is an issue, ask for help. The more we educate ourselves on the curriculums our kids are learning, the better we can readjust those curriculums.
- LISTEN TO TEACHERS AND STUDENTS
The people who are often ignored in conversations about public education are teachers and students – the people who are directly impacted by decisions. Create ways to have conversations and listen to teachers and students within your communities. Listening is one of the more powerful things one can do in the work of justice and advocacy.
- SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
The rise in Christian nationalism and “Get God Back Into School” rhetoric is all around us. But, public means public. Our schools are composed of people of all backgrounds, religions, creeds, and belief systems. Our work of inclusion within our public discourse and within our schools must denounce Christian nationalism. This ideology not only radically oppresses others but also limits the Spirit and the work of God in our world.
For resources and further learning:
– Education a Child Initiative of the PCUSA
– Education Access Reform Action Alert from the Office of Public Witness
– Help Fight Book Banning
This JustList was produced by the Unbound Team.