Controversy swirls around public schools these days. Few, if any, institutions more directly affect the lives of children from low-income families than do our public schools.
Recently, Janet Morrison, Director of Children's Education here at Central Dallas Ministries, sent me the following provocative statement from Reg Weaver, President of the National Education Association, of the "10 Commandments for Public Education." Some of the "commandments" have been adapted by the National Association of Multicultural Educators.
Whatever your opinions as you read, I think you'll find Weaver's ideas stimulating. Our schools here in the city are incredibly important to the future of our children.
Commandment #1: Thou shalt not pretend to reform schools by passing some spurious law where the intent is only to perpetuate the continued marginalization of this nation's children of color, the poor, and the different.
Commandment #2: Thou shalt not say that children are America's top priority when 20 percent of America's children live in poverty, 15 percent have no health insurance, and 13 children are killed by gunfire every single day.
Commandment #3: Thou shalt recognize that only public education has the potential to provide every child in America with a quality education. Therefore, thou shalt not abandon public schools, but redeem and strengthen them.
Commandment #4: Thou shalt not spend more money on prisons than on schools. The more quality schools you have the fewer prisons you'll need.
Commandment #5: Thou shalt not kid thyself that paying starting teachers $20,000 a year is any way to attract and retain the best and the brightest educators for our children. Thou shalt support future teachers--not insult them.
Commandment #6: Thou shalt respect every child as precious and capable of learning--inclusive of all areas of diversity including, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, socioeconomic status, language, disability, or immigration status.
Commandment #7: Thou shalt not attack teachers, especially when thou has not been in a classroom thyself for the last 35 years.
Commandment #8: Thou shalt honor not only teachers, but the people who drive the buses, clean the hallways, serve the lunches, counsel the students, take the attendance, nurse the injured, assist in the classrooms, teach the teachers and run our nation's schools with dignity and dedication and grace.
Commandment #9: Thou shalt recognize that quality education requires everybody in the multicultural education community to struggle against all forms of oppression, including racism, sexism, classism, linguicism, ablism, ageism, heterosexism, religious intolerance, and xenophobia.
Commandment #10: Thou shalt remember that public education must always be an immediate priority and a long-term investment. Schools must not be subjected to quick fixes or get-rich-quick schemes.
The same people who can deny others everything are famous for refusing themselves nothing."