From the National Council of Churches (http://www.ncccusa.org):
New York, September 21, 2011 — Equal and quality education for all children is the focus of four brief web videos released today by the National Council of Churches.
The videos are embedded with a study guide on the Council’s website at http://www.ncccusa.org/elmc/publiceducationwebisodes.html.
The four films, each six or seven minutes long, feature Dr. Diane Ravitch, education historian at New York University and author of the best-selling book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System; and Dr. John Jackson, President and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education.
Jackson and Ravitch discuss foundational values that have historically defined society’s commitment to public education but which the Council believes have become controversial:
Educational Opportunity for All
Public Schools and the Common Good
Public Schools, Part of the Community or Marketplace?
Supporting Our Teachers
The films, created by the NCC’s Committee on Public Education and Literacy, were designed to stimulate conversation about issues raised by the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches in a May 18, 2010 Pastoral Letter (http://www.ncccusa.org/elmc/pastoralletter.pdf) that was sent to the President, Congress, and the Secretary of Education.
In the letter, the Governing Board declared, “At a moment when childhood poverty is shamefully widespread, when many families are under constant stress, and when schools are often limited by lack of funds or resources, we know that public schools cannot be improved by concentrating on public schools alone… In this context we must address with prayerful determination the issues of race and class, which threaten both public education and democracy in America.”
The Governing Board also questioned test-based accountability as the philosophy that dominates today’s media conversation around public education: “We worry that our society has come to view what is good as what can be measured and compared… As people of faith we do not view our children as products to be tested and managed but instead as unique human beings, created in the image of God, to be nurtured and educated.”
In the short clip that introduces each video, the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary, endorses public school justice reform as a priority for the churches.
“Each child has special, sacred gifts that need to be nurtured, and all children are special and precious in God’s eyes,” Kinnamon declares, “which means that a system in which some children have access to excellent instruction while others don’t is simply unacceptable.”
Jan Resseger of the United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries, chair of the Council’s Committee on Public Education and Literacy, said she “looks to the four short films as a comfortable context for church study groups to confront what have become heated issues and to read and reconsider last year’s NCC Pastoral Letter in the context of the values the videos explore.”