United Methodist Women Head to Capitol Hill
by YVETTE MOORE*
Connecting children’s health and education will be the focus when United Methodist Women members gather for the organization’s 2007 public-policy legislative event in Washington, D.C., March 8 and 9.
In a separate event, also sponsored by United Methodist Women, the National Council of Churches will strategize ways to improve public-education policy at its March 9 “Fixing No Child Left Behind Conference,” in Arlington, Va., just outside Washington, D.C. No Child Left Behind, a federal law adopted in 2002 that mandates annual testing of public-school student achievement and penalties on schools not reaching set goals, is set for reauthorization this year.
Both efforts will precede Ecumenical Advocacy Days – www.advocacydays.org – March 9-12 in Washington, D.C. This year’s theme for Advocacy Days examines ways to improve the status of children worldwide.
This year’s legislative public-policy event will bring newly elected United Methodist Women conference mission coordinators for social action and members of the organization’s Green Team, which champions environmental justice, to Capitol Hill to study “Healthy Schools, Healthy Children.”
“United Methodist Women leaders will explore in-depth current issues in the context of their faith and their service as actors in God’s world,” said Susie Johnson, an executive with the Women’s Division’s of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Women’s policy-making arm.
“Our focus on education will look at public-education issues and the intersection between health, learning and sustainable agriculture,” Ms. Johnson said.
Speakers for the legislative event will include United Methodist Women Green Team member Gretchen Smith of Buford, Ga., who has worked on nutrition programs in her state’s schools.
The event will also include panel discussions on same-sex education, traditional public schools, home schooling and charter schools. Speakers on those subjects will include:
- Rebecca Cass, director of national activities, National Association of Charter School Authorizers, Wakefield, Mass.
- Kimberly Barns O’Conner, deputy executive director, Parent Teachers Association, Washington, D.C.
- Christine Webb, National Home Education Network, and a member of United Methodist Women.
United Methodist Women members can learn more about the “Fixing No Child Left Behind Conference” and register for it at www.ucctakeaction.org. Click on Issues, Civil/Human Rights, Public Education. Julie Taylor, Women’s Division executive for children, youth and family advocacy, urged United Methodist Women members to continue to advocate for improvements in the No Child left Behind law and for public education in general.
“The intent of No Child Left Behind was good, but the requirement for every-year testing is too much,” Ms. Taylor said. “Labeling failing schools is not helpful and suggesting children move from one school to another does not fundamentally or sustainably solve the problems schools face.
“I continue to urge United Methodist Women members to visit their local schools and volunteer, talk to teachers in their congregations, and attend school-board meetings. These may seem like the same old suggestions, but they represent the necessary keys to community involvement. We must do whatever we can to push the public conscience toward making education for our children a priority.”
United Methodist Women is among more than 47 sponsors of Ecumenical Advocacy Days. United Methodist Women participants will join ecumenical partners to study the status of children and will head to Capitol Hill March 12 to visit congressional representatives to advocate on behalf of children.
*Yvette Moore is an executive secretary for communications for the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.