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The Good Book Supports Public Education, Say Church Leaders

The North Carolina Council of Churches as part of its support of public education put this billboard up on I-40, quoting the Bible. (NC Council of Churches)
The North Carolina Council of Churches as part of its support of public education put this billboard up on I-40, quoting the Bible. (NC Council of Churches)
June 18, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. – Today, thousands of North Carolinians are contemplating the lessons heard from the pulpit at church on Sunday, but a new effort is encouraging the state's places of worship to protect the education children receive during the week.

The North Carolina Council of Churches is embarking on a new initiative this summer – North Carolina Faith Leaders for Public Education.

The group's mission is to address problems such as underfunded public schools and programs.

Allison Mahaley chairs the organization's public education committee and says the hope is the needs faith communities currently address can be dealt with at their root.

"What we want them to do is to keep doing that work, but to also realize that unless we advocate for changes in the public school at the policy level, there's no end to the charity that will be required,” she states.

The program is modeled after a similar program in Texas that has proven effective in impacting local and state policies with regard to public education.

The Faith Leaders group will be visiting with congregation leaders across the state this summer to provide tools for them to advocate.

The Council of Churches also has put up a billboard on I-40 near Faison quoting Hosea 4:6 – "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

Mary Elizabeth Hanchey is the program associate for legislative advocacy and interfaith outreach with the North Carolina Council of Churches. She says the mission of public schools falls in line with the core principles of religion.

"Faith communities are often the most verbal advocates for public education because we believe that we must serve all of God's children,” Hanchey stresses. “We believe that public schools are the place where everyone has the opportunity to get a quality education."

Mahaley says the nonprofit group represents 18 denominations advocating for public schools, which runs counter to the push by some in the religious right who are fighting for more charter schools and voucher-funded private education with no oversight.

"I really think that when people see that this very Christian organization is pushing back on that, this is a chance for people to see that not all Christians are pushing for that agenda,” Mahaley points out. “They are raising the voice of Christians who are united for equity and for justice and for building a better world."

Opponents of charter schools and school voucher programs say they are another way to further segregation in schools.

Supporters say it offers freedom for parents to choose the most appropriate education for their child.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC