My children, now grown, attended public schools before heading off to college. However, my son did attend private school for four years as we sought to provide him the accelerated education he needed at the time. We were fortunate to have the resources to give him that experience for his fourth thru seventh grade years. Not all children have those choices. As parents, we volunteered in and outside the classroom (in our local public schools) knowing how our help supported the teachers and enhanced our own understanding of the issues facing children in our community.
Did you know …
- There are over 30 million children growing up in poverty in the United States today.
- Children living in poverty have a higher number of absenteeism or leave school all together because they are more likely to have to work or care for family members.
- Dropout rates of 16 to 24-years-old students who come from low income families are seven times more likely to drop out than those from families with higher incomes.
- A higher percentage of young adults (31%) without a high school diploma live in poverty, compared to the 24% of young people who finished high school.
- 40% of children living in poverty aren’t prepared for primary schooling.
- Children that live below the poverty line are 1.3 times more likely to have developmental delays or learning disabilities than those who don’t live in poverty.
- By the end of the 4th grade, African-American, Hispanic and low-income students are already 2 years behind grade level. By the time they reach the 12th grade they are 4 years behind.
- In 2013, the dropout rate for students in the nation was at 8% for African American youth, 7% for Hispanic youth, and 4% for Asian youth, which are all higher than the dropout rate for Caucasian youth (4%).
- Less than 30% of students in the bottom quarter of incomes enroll in a 4 year school. Among that group – less than 50% graduate.
Our Baptismal Covenant calls us to act.
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of all human beings? These two questions from our Baptismal Covenant can serve as a foundation for why congregations can be a witness and advocate for seeing that all children receive quality education, no matter where they live or their socio-economic circumstances.
The 2015 General Convention passed Resolution B005: Quality Public Education for All that urges church-school partnerships as a path for following Jesus into the neighborhood, addressing educational inequity, and rejuvenating congregations.
Many of our church buildings are empty during the week, with classrooms quiet between Church School sessions. Many churches have adults who are capable of mentoring or tutoring to children who need additional help or role models. Our churches often supply backpacks full of school supplies to those rarely receive a new box of crayons or a backpack that isn’t a hand-me-down. How is your congregation advocating for children in your community, outside of your church building? I recently learned of an organization that can assist in the building up of these types of partnerships.
All Our Children is a network of individuals, groups, and congregations from many faiths who believe they are called to champion every child’s right to quality public education. All Our Children promotes, nurtures, and supports faith-rooted community partnerships with public schools.
What is a faith-rooted community partnership with a public school?
All Our Children (AOC) encourages partnerships between congregations and public schools that are linked relationships recognized by leaders of both institutions. Relationships are the heart of these partnerships — personal relationships with children, teachers, school staff, parents, and within the congregation. Each partnership is unique — they emerge from the sacred space where the school’s needs meets the congregation’s gifts and desire to serve. AOC partnerships are diverse — they focus on everything from running in-school and after-school programs, to classroom and teacher support, to leading advocacy coalitions for school budgets and facilities renovations.
Director Lallie Lloyd shares,
“The achievement gap burdening children in poverty is the most urgent moral crisis of our day, and we call the Episcopal Church to renew its commitment to building a just society by ensuring every child gets an excellent public education.”
If you believe your faith calls you to support each child’s right to quality public education, please join All Our Children, the cost free. This Network will convene an intergenerational symposium on “Children, Poverty, and Public Education: The Role of the Church in Addressing Educational Inequity” in 2017, and urges church-school partnerships to join their network, and their local public education support initiatives, to hasten the day when quality public education is available to all children. Regional events sponsored by AOC will be held throughout the United States in 2016.
To learn more about starting a faith-rooted community partnership with a school, check out AOC’s “10 Steps to a Successful School Partnership” and the other tools and materials on their website. Contact Lallie Llyod at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 857.574.0804 to let them know about your church-school partnership!
*Statistics above are from DoSomething.org