RESOLUTION REGARDING "CHOICE** IN EDUCATION
The United Church of Christ and the United Church Board for Home¬ land Ministries can be justifiably proud that they have consis¬ tently expressed and demonstrated their concern for public educa¬ tion and the children who attend our public schools. Recently this concern has also been evidenced in Washington, with new initiatives in education being presented by both the major political parties.
President Bush, in a major address on education (in which, significantly, he never used the words "public schools"), has put forward a bill which, among other things, calls for what he calls "choice" in education. His bill in fact presents his predecessor's "voucher" plan under the name "choice," and would permit parents to enroll their children in private and/or parochial schools, using public funds to cover all or part of the tuition.
Recent reports from Washington suggest that the Congress will rewrite parts of his bill. Significantly, Congress may duck this issue, which of course has strong support from Catholic and other parochial school providers, and leave it an open option to the individual states as to whether or not this diversion of funds from public to parochial and private schools will be permitted.
As persons who have consistently supported public education, and as persons deeply concerned about the fact that the public schools are increasingly filled with low income children and/or children of color, we must be concerned about the erosion of support for public schools which we find in our society. Obviously many politicians believe that we in the United States have pulled back from our traditional belief in democratically controlled public education as a means by which all children are given the skills and information with which to participate fully in our society.
Certainly we in the UCC are aware of the real shortcomings of our public schools, although many of us do not fully appreciate the enormous task they face, trying to educate children from a society as fragmented and unequal as our own. Unfortunately, in many cases voters pull away from the schools because they feel that the children who attend them are not "our" children, and our justifi¬ able distress over the shortcomings of our schools is being exploited by those who do not share our concern for democratic values and the welfare of the children of the poor. Fortunately, people of faith believe that all children are valuable, that all children deserve the best that family and society can offer, that ALL children are OUR children.