|Since the inception of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), the organization’s Hispanic Evangelicals leaders from around the nation have stood for the “Lamb’s Agenda” not only from behind their pulpits but also in America’s public spheres, championing Life, Religious Liberty, and Biblical Justice.|
Where does education fit into these directives?
The Faith and Education Coalition (FE Coalition) was founded by the NHCLC with the goal of connecting evangelical pastors to issues of education equity facing our nation. In a nation where education is to be considered the great equalizer, study after study have shown that Blacks and Hispanics enrolled in k-12 public education continue to lag behind their White colleagues in academic achievement. For example, a recent study revealed that only 25% of Hispanics and 10% of Blacks met three or more ACT College Readiness Benchmarks compared to 50% of Whites. Hispanic leaders must find a way to address and close the achievement gap for Blacks, Hispanics, and the most marginalized communities in our nation.
The NHCLC believes it is a matter of biblical justice to engage our voice around school improvement. From the missional perspective of the NHCLC, the primary task is to remind our schools of the imago dei inherent in each student they serve. The NHCLC believes public education should:
1. Acknowledge and respect the God-given dignity and value of every child; “God created man in his own image, . . .” (Gen. 1:27) Whether a student has a unique physical or learning disability or comes from a family of a lower socioeconomic status, public schools should be willing to provide all students with a seat in the classroom and the opportunity and resources needed to learn and excel.
2. Protect the right of parents to lead and guide their child’s education; (Deut. 6:4-9) We support the right of parents and guardians to decide what’s right and best for their child’s education and the right to timely and understandable school and student report cards in order that they might properly evaluate their child’s education.
3. Demand high educational standards and equitable education opportunities for all children; “You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, . . .” (Lev. 19:15) Regardless of a student’s zip code, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or perceived learning capabilities, every student should be held to standards of education that will prepare him or her for college or a career upon high school graduation. Additionally, regardless of a child’s unique “starting point” or additional “obstacles” in the educational journey, we support the allocation of additional resources to provide support in helping all students reach those high standards.
4. Respect the local districts’ and states’ rights to determine educational standards, methods and curricular choices; “Where there is no vision, …” (Prov. 29:18) Each state and locality is responsible for electing and appointing educational leaders who have a compelling vision for public education in their region, one that honors the people they were chosen to represent and also considers the career demands of the time and those projected to come. Additionally, the people are responsible for being engaged community stakeholders and for holding their officials accountable to approved education policies.
5. Ensure fairness to taxpayers; “Render to all what is due them . . .” (Rom.13:5-7) We urge our nation’s leaders to work together with community stakeholders to honor our nation’s taxpayers and implement education policies that support the success of all students through high standards and educational equity. Likewise, we stand wary of policies which move public funds away from public schools, where many of our most vulnerable students attend for access to educational opportunities.
In essence, the NHCLC and FE Coalition are committed to seeing all students in America’s public education school system succeed as a matter of biblical justice.
Rev. Girien R. Salazar
Executive Director, NHCLC & FE Coalition