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Education Is in Our DNA

It is becoming an all too familiar story: America's public education system is failing. Among developed nations, American students rank 25th in math and 21st in science. And the trend is going south. In September, we learned that the high school class of 2011 posted the lowest SAT scores of all time.

But those statistics don't tell the whole story. In wealthier school districts, American public school students actually perform better on international tests than their counterparts in Finland, Japan, and Korea.

For our public school kids in truly poor school districts, however, their best and often only chance is in the kind of lifeline depicted in the climactic scene of the powerful documentary Waiting for Superman.

Hundreds of children and their families, gathered in a school gymnasium, are hoping and praying they will win the lottery. If theirs is one of the few numbers picked, they will escape their neighborhood school and attend a highly coveted charter school.

The drama is intense. The joy on the faces of those kids whose number is picked is palpable. The despair of those left behind is devastating.

No American child should have to win the lottery just to get a decent education. It is a scandal of the highest magnitude and a violation of the most basic precepts of justice.

For many reasons (educational quality, moral environments hostile to faith), many Christian families have fled public schools for Christian and other private schools or even homeschooling. While we must ensure our own children receive a proper education, we must also care deeply about those left behind.

After all, education is in our DNA as Christians.

At a recent conference at the Colson Center, professor Glenn Sunshine ...

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Contra Mundum
Chuck Colson & Timothy George

Charles Colson was the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, an outreach to convicts, victims of crime, and justice officers. Colson, who converted to Christianity before he was indicted on Watergate-related charges, became one of evangelicalism's most influential voices. His books included Born Again and How Now Shall We Live? A Christianity Today columnist since 1985, Colson died in 2012.

Timothy George is the dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University and a member of Christianity Today's Editorial Council. His books include Reading Scripture with the Reformers and Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? Like Colson, George has been heavily involved in the Evangelicals and Catholics Together discussions. George began cowriting "Contra Mundum" with Colson in 2011.

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Education Is in Our DNA
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December 2011

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