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As a grade-schooler in Miami, the only other Hispanic in my class had the jealousy-inducing, grandiose name of Evaristo Monteiro (yes, it’s a cognate for Mount Everest). But this year, for the first time ever, white students are not the majority in U.S. public schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, minority students, when added together, make up a new majority in K-12 schools. The shift is largely fueled by growth in the number of Hispanic children. Since 93 percent of America’s students—including students with a tradition of faith—are enrolled in public schools, the educational success or failure of these schools directly impacts America’s churches. As our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers, we should care deeply that all this year’s kindergarteners, the future class of 2027, will graduate with a solid educational foundation. If we expect the next generation of church leaders to be literate, and biblically literate, then we should unwaveringly support student success in our public schools.

And yet, as this new school year begins, I hear some American evangelicals calling for parents to pull their children out of public schools. I understand our valid, visceral emotions regarding secularism and education in America. And while I honor the right of every parent to prayerfully consider how their children will be educated—we homeschooled all our kids at one point or another—I wonder how many of these fellow believers realize that homeschooling and private schools are simply not an option for many families, including most poor and minority families. Instead of leaving our local public schools, now is the time for Christians to invest more ...

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August 2014

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