Let’s talk about a couple of concrete ways that people of faith can make a real difference when it comes to addressing education inequality in our public schools.
First, let’s talk about one way many congregations are already engaged in amazing work in our schools: Compassionate Service. Here are some great examples:
- Back-to-School backpack and school supply drives.
- After-school mentoring programs.
- Healthy meals for students when school isn’t in session.
- High-quality preschool options for low-income kids.
These are just some of the incredible ways that congregations are showing God’s love and making a real difference for students and schools in their communities.
Putting hands and feet to our faith is a central part of what it means to take the Gospel seriously. After all, Jesus said, “What you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.”
That’s Compassionate Service in action.
But here’s the kicker. While it’s true that we’ll never close the achievement gap without compassionate service, compassionate service alone will only get us part of the way there.
This leads to the second way people of faith can make a huge difference on this issue: Faithful Advocacy. What do we mean by this, and how is it different from Compassionate Service?
Many of the biggest transformations needed to close the achievement gap will only come with concrete changes to public policy. There are some things that need to change locally, statewide, and even nationally. And these changes don’t often happen on their own.
We believe that our nation has the resources, talent, and know-how to solve education inequality. But we often lack the public will to hold our leaders accountable for making the necessary changes for our kids. That’s where you can step in and make a real difference.
This is what we mean by Faithful Advocacy.
It’s about three things: 1) Educating yourself about the issues at stake; 2) Learning more about concrete policy changes are proven to make a difference; 3) Joining with other voices in letting policymakers and education leaders know that these issues matter to us and need to change.
According to Nicole Baker Fulgham, here’s what it looks like when Faithful Advocacy and Compassionate Service come together: “No school should be under-resourced, no student should be without quality teachers or caring mentors, and no public policy that affects their life should go unexamined in places where there are thriving communities of faith.”
We need to make this our prayer.
Compassionate Service and Faithful Advocacy, working together. When people of faith get both of these right, we can be a powerful force to end education inequality.
Is your congregation is already involved in some form of Compassionate Service or Faithful Advocacy? If so, let us know! If not, what do you think are some of the biggest obstacles to getting people involved? We would love to hear your perspective in the comments below.
“What do you think are some of the biggest obstacles to getting people involved?”
I think some people think that advocacy always has to take you to the steps of the government to push for change and that you have to go to your state capitol or Washington DC to advocate. But faithful advocacy can happen right around the corner from where you live by connecting with local schools and advocating for change there as well. From preschools to high school, faith communities can be advocates for change to challenge and empower all the institutions supporting children in our communities to provide the best education possible for our kids.