With the continuing incidence of school shootings and this spring’s teachers’ strikes, school children are never far from our minds. As a new school year approaches, we pause to consider the justice issues related to education in our nation and in Arizona. According to a study published in late 2014, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families. The shift to a majority-poor student population means that in public schools, a growing number of children start kindergarten already trailing their more privileged peers and rarely, if ever, catch up. They are less likely to have support at home, are less frequently exposed to enriching activities outside of school, and are more likely to drop out and never attend college. It also means that education policy, funding decisions and classroom instruction must adapt to the needy children who arrive at school each day.
Opportunities for Action
There are purposeful things we can do and learn:
- Read about the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools program, which provides summer and after-school reading enrichment for children who might otherwise not have access to books during the summer. In partnership with local congregations, schools, colleges and universities, community organizations, and secure juvenile justice facilities the CDF Freedom Schools program boosts student motivation to read, generates more positive attitudes toward learning, increases self-esteem and connects the needs of children and families to the resources of their communities. Since 1995, more than 137,000 preK-12 children have had a CDF Freedom Schools experience and more than 16,000 college students and young adult staff have been trained by CDF to deliver this empowering model. childrensdefense.org
- Explore opportunities to assist with tutoring in your community.
- Learn about education issues in Arizona
- School funding is a top priority for many in Arizona, but there is little agreement on how money should be distributed. To learn more about the funding for Arizona’s public schools, private schools, and charter schools, read a recent article called “Arizona School Funding: How It Works” at: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2017/11/13/arizona-school-funding/782457001/
- Of particular interest in 2018, Proposition 305 will be on the ballot for voters in November. This ballot initiative asks if citizens want to keep or do away with an expansion of the state’s school voucher-style program. You can learn more about this issue at: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/03/21/voters-can-decide-keep-school-voucher-program-proposition-305-ballot/446088002
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