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1999 NCC News Archives

Support Public Education, Christian and Jewish Leaders Urge
In Statement Timed to the Start of the New School Term

September 2, 1999, NEW YORK CITY – As the new school term begins, top officials of the National Council of Churches and Central Conference of American Rabbis are joining their voices in a strong statement in support of public education.

Both long-time advocates for public education, the NCC and CCAR already are collaborating with the Pennsylvania Council of Churches to "pilot" a new interfaith campaign to increase the quality – and equality – of U.S. public education for all children. The William Penn Foundation this summer awarded the campaign an eight-month planning grant.

The NCC has spoken out in support of public education since at least 1963 when it called for "efforts to strengthen and improve the American system of public education," and has re-activated that call in the current context of attack on public education. Last November, the NCC's General Assembly approved on first reading a new policy statement on public education, and is expected to give its final approval when it meets this November in Cleveland, Ohio.

The NCC's President and General Secretary, along with the CCAR's President and Executive Vice-President, co-signed today's joint declaration of "Christians and Jews in Support of Public Education."

Reported Jay Rock, the NCC's Co-Director for Interfaith Relations who provided staff support, the statement is one way of "making public our interest in working together on the issue of public education. Issues of equal access, equal opportunity and civil rights – historic concerns of our two organizations – all are being played out in the public education arena."

The full text of the statement follows.

Christians and Jews in Support of Public Education

On this Labor Day 1999, at the beginning of a new school term, we call upon all people to stand up for justice and equality when it counts most - in the formative years of our children's lives. We join together today in support of public education in this nation. Though we are rooted in significantly different traditions, we are united in our conviction that how well children are treated in this nation is a faith issue. Our scriptures remind us that we are all created equally, and teach us that each generation is responsible for the generations to come.

Public education is under attack:

The values of public education far outweigh the challenges that it is facing today:

We have learned from the Talmud that the one who teaches a child should be considered like one who raises a child. Teachers, and other school workers, must be afforded the respect that we, as parents, need. This nation's teachers deserve our thanks and recognition for the critical role they play in the lives of our children.

Public education is our best hope for the fulfillment of the dream glimpsed by the founders of our society, and intended by our Creator: the realization of freedom of thought and expression, in a community of diversity, justice and harmony among all people. Strong public education must stand, and be supported as the cornerstone of such a society.

We call upon our leaders of government at all levels, and people of all faiths and backgrounds to commit themselves to the protection, financial security and continued reform of our public school system. Our society will be judged by our treatment of each other, and in particular by the opportunities we afford our children.

Rabbi Charles Kroloff, President, and Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice-President
The Central Conference of American Rabbis

Bishop Craig Anderson, President, and The Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, General Secretary
The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA

September 2, 1999

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