No one had to remind me that neither of my parents graduated from high school. I carried that reality with me into every classroom. But my parents sacrificed to raise me with a higher standard, a higher expectation than many of my peers. A recent survey revealed that Hispanic parents place a great value on education, and we are proud that Hispanic high school graduation rates are trending upward. But too many of these students still enter college to discover they must pay for not-for-credit remedial classes to fill gaps in their education. For years, I taught English to many underprepared students—including Hispanic students—and despaired that many of them were destined to fail. As I watched them work on assignments, I sensed the Lord saying, “Ellos son sus hijos.” (They are your children). I have never shaken that call, and join “every tribe and every tongue” to say that public education in not Caesar’s, and we can have an impact today. We believe deeply that every high school and diploma should have meaning, so at the NHCLC we are focused on raising academic expectations, providing families with clear goals and support, and staying connected with public school teachers and administrators to help them overcome learning barriers in the community. On dozens of occasions I sat in evangelical churches and heard well-meaning preachers revile public education as “ungodly” and “a place where our children are stripped of their faith.” I wanted to call out and share that I, like legions of Christians, have given their lives to public education, and have seen God’s power—as Daniel knew as he studied in Babylon.
If we expect the next generation of our church leaders to be literate, and biblically literate, then we are wise to invest in their educational success. The partnership of faith and education is not just a natural one, it can be supernatural. Our investment in public school success is more than a good idea; it’s biblical justice in action. Those minority students are not just the new majority in the school down the street, they’re the leaders of tomorrow’s congregations, communities and our country.
Carlos Campo leads education initiatives for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and is chair of the Alliance for Hispanic Education.