Hope for Public Schools
I am an educator and a teacher. I am a Christian. I am a Child of God. I am a Prayer Warrior.
I am tired. I am frustrated. I am confused. I am not alone.
And there is a burden placed upon our nation’s public school systems too heavy to bear alone.
I feel the burden, along with so many others, within this occupation. We know, and studies show that an education is the single most potent distinguishing factor between living a life of poverty and rising above and out of it. And yet, this burden is too heavy for any single community, any single state, or any single nation to carry alone.
When I pray, I see waves upon waves of courageous men and women entering our schools with a desire to teach, encourage, love, and empower our next generations. Christian or not, these dedicated, extraordinary people answer the call to teach and love our children to the best of their ability. His Children. God’s Children. Every last child within every school system is His.
And the children attending our public schools? When I pray, I see their faces, their hearts, their longing for belonging, for safety, for hope, for something to pique their curiosity and show them who they can be.
When I pray, I see the parents’ faces dropping their children off at school or the bus—faces of new parents trying to do their best. Faces of adults trying to survive, to work to support their families, trying to overcome addictions, traumas, insecurities, generational curses, and grief in their own lives. Trying to feed, clothe, and raise children forgotten by the global church.
We ask public schools to meet unmeasurable goals.
And as a nation, we expect schools to respond with a resounding YES every time.
Transport my child safely? YES
Feed my child? YES
Provide a safe environment? YES
Offer age-appropriate curriculum? YES
Offer student-specific curriculum and instruction? YES
Provide access to 21st-century technology and instruction? YES
Provide social/emotional support for trauma-informed students? YES
Provide support for students with special needs of all kinds? YES
Provide parents with current data and information regarding their student? YES
Provide before-school and after-school care? YES
Provide access to printed materials and the ability to take them home? YES
Provide counseling for students and families? YES
Provide necessary school supplies like pencils, expo markers, and backpacks? YES
Provide students food on days when there is no school? YES
Provide students individualized support with 25-40 students in a classroom? YES
Provide students speech support? YES
Provide students with English Language support? YES
Provide the state with standardized testing data? YES
Provide students instruction to handle person-to-person conflicts? YES
Provide students resources to overcome emotional hurdles brought from home? YES
...and the list goes on.
But when I pray and ask God for wisdom, I see the Church. When these children, these families, walk through our church building doors, we embrace them. We love them, greet them, find ways to heal hearts, meet needs, and point them to freedom.
But what if they don’t cross through our church building doors?
On the outside, I see my church, people I love, people I know to love Christ, follow Christ. I see their desire to make the world better, to lead others to Christ. I see them apply for passports. I see them gather together and head across national borders. I see them get Malaria shots and head to Nicaragua, Africa, Guatemala, and Mexico. I have done the same, traveling to small, impoverished villages to support these people, provide aid to the communities, and minister to the children by providing access to schooling and education.
And I ask myself, Why are we stepping over children in need here to serve children in need there?
Are we missing something? Are we missing a God-given opportunity to change our world where we live? Have we as Christians chosen to evacuate our public schools simply because the human-built organism of politics has deemed public schools untouchable?
And yet, inside these neighborhood schools, up the street, and across town from our homes, silent dedicated Christians answer the call and serve as teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, nurses, bus drivers, custodians, counselors, social workers...and the list goes on.
Can we, for a moment, step outside our current political system and rise above it to view our public schools from a kingdom perspective? Can we lean into God, asking the Holy Spirit to lift the veil, remove our blinders, and ask God for His perspective? I see a system with an underlying agenda, setting public school systems and those working within its confines as the enemy, as the ones at fault for many social and educational issues.
If we zoom out to gather a perspective beyond our own personal, familial, and community needs - where is God?
Consider the children in public schools.
Over 50.8 million American students attend public primary and secondary schools across our nation. And with each student comes a very individualized set of needs and expectations placed upon those teaching. Foster Children. Orphans. Socially marginalized children. Traumatized children. Children without the monetary, emotional, and physical resources to reach beyond their “now” into their God-given purposes and abilities. Each one was created and loved by the God of the Universe. They are entering public schools with unknown hopes for their future.
What if we, as the Church rise up, and enter the public schools in whatever manner possible to support public schools instead of evacuating them? What if we prayed for our schools? What if we volunteered in our schools (when they open for volunteers again)? What if we sought out the schools in our neighborhoods, whether we have children in them or not, and partnered with them instead of adding to the burdens placed by bureaucracy, politics, red tape, and unrealistic expectations?
When I pray, I see a wave of love pouring out upon these children, these students: life-changing, heart-healing, everlasting love. I see churches partnering with public schools, offering assistance, resources, time, and encouragement. We can do so much, even while honoring the current separation of church and state laws. If we can go across the sea, submerge ourselves in another culture, attempting not to change things but to meet people where they are, why can’t we do that within the public school across the street or the city? Imagine the beauty to behold. Imagine what God could do if the Church dared to breach the gap created by political greed, tradition, and isolation and stepped into this large community. Just imagine the glory. Imagine the love. Imagine the HOPE. Just imagine.