Take Action for Public Education
by BARBARA WHEELER*
As public education in the United States faces challenges, churches and faith-based community organizations have a major role to play. Members of United Methodist Women have a history of advocacy for public education. In addition to volunteering in public schools and tutoring programs, members are speaking out in their communities and contacting elected officials to share their views.
With the federal No Child Left Behind Act up for reauthorization this year, United Methodist Women members are encouraged to address the impact of the act, which focuses on standardized testing as a measure of schools’ success, on public schools in their communities.
The Women’s Division has signed on to a Joint Organizational Statement that recommends changes to the No Child Left Behind Act. The statement addresses key components of the act, including progress measurement, capacity building, assessments, sanctions and funding. This statement includes talking points advocates can use when speaking with their U.S. Congressional representatives.
The National Council of Churches Committee on Public Education and Literacy has issued a statement entitled “Ten Moral Concerns in the Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act”. This statement includes talking points advocates can use when speaking with their U.S. lawmakers.
Contact your U.S. senators and representative to urge them to reform the No Child Left Behind Act so it addresses systemic issues related to public education, including poverty, nutrition, health care and safety. Ask them not to simply reauthorize the law.
Talk with local public-school officials and parents to gather comments on the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act in your community. Compile the information you gather into a fact sheet to mail to your U.S. lawmakers along with a personal letter and a copy of the “Ten Moral Concerns in the Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act”.
In addition, take these steps to advocate for public education from the “Campaign for Children, Phase III: Public School Education” booklet, #3233, available from the Mission Resource Center, 1-800-305-9857:
Visit your local public schools.
Become aware of the state of public schools in your community by visiting and volunteering at them. Attend school-board meetings and report on the meetings to your local United Methodist Women unit.
Make personal contact with your elected U.S. representative.
Arrange a meeting with your representative when she or he is in town. Talk with her or him about reforming the No Child Left Behind Act. Contact your representative’s office and speak with staff who work with legislative issues related to public education. They will make recommendations to the representative and share your concerns with her or him.
*Barbara Wheeler is an executive secretary for communications with the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.
- Public Education: My History
- Take Action for Public Education
- Fixing No Child Left Behind
- Related resource: “Campaign for Children, Phase III: Public School Education” booklet. #3223, available from the Mission Resource Center, 1-800-305-9857.
- URL for Joint Organizational Statement near the end of the story:
- Website: www.edaccountablilty.org
- URL for Contact your U.S. senator or representative:
- URL for “Ten Moral Concerns in the Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act”