Commentary

Leading NC faith group is planning teach-in to support education rally on May 16 – Here’s why

As part of their effort to support next Wednesday’s mass education march on Raleigh and the broader effort to support public schools, the good people at the NC Council of Churches are planning a teach-in next Wednesday. See the brief explainer from staffer Mary Elizabeth Hanchey below for details:

Faith communities have work to do on May 16th , and in the days to come. May 16th is a significant opportunity for advocacy on behalf of our public schools, the students whom they serve, and the teachers who serve in them.

Some have suggested that teachers should not be absent from the classroom to advocate for themselves and the students in their care. This is not reasonable. Teachers must advocate for fair pay and excellent schools. We all deserve a statewide system of public schools that are safe, clean, sufficiently supplied, and well-staffed by adequately paid professionals. Those who work in them daily are well-poised to teach about what is needed and what is lacking.

Without question, students all over the state rely on public schools to provide food, structure, safety, and social services which are not always available when school is not in session. But this is precisely why advocacy for public schools is absolutely necessary. This is why faith communities must join teachers in advocating for fair pay and excellent schools.

Many of us know first-hand the all too familiar story: caring for others engenders self-sacrificial decisions that cause one’s own needs to become secondary. This expectation has caused much brokenness and emotional abuse in the lives of caregivers. Telling our teachers that they can’t speak up for their needs and the needs of the children they teach is part of this malignancy. And when 80% of our teachers are female, telling our teachers they can’t speak up continues the legacy of telling women to be quiet and work without regard for worth or well-being.

Faith communities have a tremendous opportunity to step into this chaos. They can start by learning about all the wrap-around caregiving schools are providing for students and their families – the services that help them mitigate the realities of poverty and hunger and inequity and injustice so that our children and their families can be supported and strengthened. Faith communities have an opportunity to ask: how can we support this work for the children in our district? Our region? Our county? Our state?

And faith communities have the opportunity to advocate in the public square on behalf of teachers and students. To say to those whose life’s work is the protection and education of our children: you are not alone. We see you, we value your work, we will stand with you, and we will advocate for funding and policies that allow your work to flourish. And to the students: we will not fail you. We will provide what you need to thrive.

The North Carolina Council of Churches encourages faith communities to champion this opportunity for advocacy and this opportunity for partnership.  This resource packet offers a place to start as you approach May 16. It is our prayer that it will lead to questions and partnerships that will strengthen our schools and our communities in the days, months, and years ahead.

With that prayer at the fore, we also invite you to join us on May 16 in Raleigh. In the midst of the full day of advocacy, please join us at 1:00 in the Sanctuary of First Baptist Church, Raleigh, as we gather:

1:00 p.m. TEACH-IN:  Advocating for and Supporting our Public Schools
A lesson for faith communities about what’s at stake
Sponsored by the NC Council of Churches
First Baptist Church,  99 N Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC
After our time together, you may choose to join the rally at the Legislative Building.

You may email info@ncchurches.org with questions.

 

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