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Ecumenical organizations gather
to support reform for 'No Child Left Behind'

Washington, March 20, 2009 -- Nearly100 faith leaders gathered here March 12 to discuss the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.  

The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, called participants to turn from a focus on standardization and insist that the reauthorization value each whole child of God. 

The event was convened by H.E. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, NCC President. 

Kinnamon urged leaders to endorse the “Broader, Bolder Approach to Education” initiative that calls for raising achievement by improving public schools, guaranteeing health care for all children and their families, guaranteeing quality early education for pre-schoolers, and enriching the lives of poor children outside the school day. 

Participating in the meeting were representatives from African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, American Baptist Churches, Armenian Orthodox Church of America, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church, USA, Progressive National Baptist Convention, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church and United Methodist Women.  

The religious organizations were in Washington preparing for the Ecumenical Advocacy Days. 

The keynote speaker was Dr. John Jackson, CEO and President of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. Jackson called participants to move the conversation away from test score outcomes and to insist that the reauthorization finally address disparities in the resources that determine each child’s opportunity to learn as the central strategy for closing achievement gaps. 

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) called upon the NCC and its communions support a recommendation that President Obama create a National Commission on Educational Opportunity to document disparities in opportunity across the states and to provide federal incentives for states to fund public schools equitably. 

Members of the NCC’s Justice and Advocacy composed an expert policy panel that featured Joel Packer, policy director of the National Education Association; Judith Browne, co-director of Advancement Project, a civil rights organization doing ground-breaking work on school-prison issues; Molly Hunter, director of Education Justice at the Education Law Center, a school funding and civil rights litigator agency; and Monty Neill, deputy director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) ,

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