For God's Sake! Let's talk about arts education.

Two things I try to avoid in my blog posts:

1) Serious stuff.

2) God stuff.

Allow me to deviate briefly from this policy.

In the latest edition of her weekly e-mail message, the Executive Director of the Theatre Communications Group, Teresa Eyring, raised questions about President Obama’s educational reform programs, noting growing concern about the Administration’s narrow focus on math, science, testing and accountability.

Ms. Eyring’s post included a link to a letter that the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA sent to the President. (The group claims to represent 36 Christian communions with a combined membership of 45 million persons in more than 100,000 congregations across the nation; i.e., a lot of Christians).

The letter began by stating the group's common conviction “that the church is called to speak for justice in public education.” It went on to affirm “that our society’s provision of public education—publicly funded, universally available, and accountable to the public—while imperfect, is essential for ensuring that all children are served.”

Despite the prevailing theological tone, these folks make damned good sense. God bless 'em. You can read the entire letter if you want, or you can save time by letting me excerpt the important sections. The first statement is what caught my attention and had me saying, "Yeah! Right on!"

We reject the language of business for discussing public education.

Not only has the language of the marketplace entered discussions of school governance and management, but we also notice that the language of business accountability is used to talk about education, a human endeavor of caring...We worry that our society has come to view what is good as what can be measured and compared... The relentless focus on testing basic skills has diminished our attention to the humanities, the social studies, the arts, and child and adolescent development.

We value public school educators.

Our biblical heritage and our theology teach us that we live in community, not solely in the marketplace. As we strive to move our imperfect world closer to the realm of God, we recognize that we are all responsible for making sure that public schools, as primary civic institutions, embody our love for one another. We are called to create institutions that serve families and children with hospitality. We are called to work as citizens for the resources that will support a climate of trust and community within each public school. We are also called to value those whose vocation is teaching... Wholesale scapegoating of public school teachers is an ugly and unfortunate development in federal policy.

Full Disclosure: I am the product of the public education system. I am also the product of parents who were educators in public schools. Also, my grandmother was an educator. My sister too. Oh, friends as well.

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