Public Education: The Next Moral Issue for Today's Evangelicals
Just like teaching in a low-income school is a heavy lift, for a lot of Christians, moving to an urban community or a rural, poor community is a heavy ask. And we're not going to get there, I think, if we expect every Christian to do it. But regardless of where you live and where your kids go to school—public, private, Christian, homeschool—we have responsibility for the 15 million kids who are living in poverty in schools that are failing them every day. Just like we have a responsibility for the millions of children worldwide who are starving or getting sick from diseases we can cure. We may not move to that community to help them directly, but we're still accountable.
It's trendy among evangelicals to have advocacy campaigns or church ministries about sex trafficking. Yet there are only a handful of Christians who have the training and dedication and passion to actually stop more children or adults from being trafficked. It helps, of course, for those people to have the support of their churches and to have fellow Christians aware of the issue. But when you start talking about moving from awareness to advocacy, how will you engage the right people on education reform?
I look at our work as a funnel. If I'm speaking at a conference of 1,000 people, I expect a small number of them will actually become tutors. Even fewer are going to advocate for policy. I look at it [as finding] the people who are going to go the long haul. How do we get them engaged, knowing that it might be a smaller but ultimately more powerful group?
International Justice Mission offers a perfect example. I don't do any direct work on sex trafficking, but I do get IJM's e-mail blasts. And if they're like, "Send this e-mail to your member of Congress," I'm like, click. In two minutes I've done it. Sometimes we think advocacy is a massive undertaking. And it is for some people. But for the rest of us, it's making our voices heard, and sometimes that's as easy as sending an e-mail. And that really does matter; they keep track of that in members' offices, much to my surprise. If you get 10,000 people sending an e-mail to their Congressperson saying, "I'm a Christian and this particular policy is going to be harmful for kids who are already disenfranchised in public schools," it can really turn the tide.