Any church leader looking to be convinced that the state of public education in America is a Christian concern need look no further than Nicole Baker Fulgham’s Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can — and Should — Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Children (Brazos Press, 2013). The book makes a compelling case that the academic achievement gap in public schools is a moral issue that demands the attention of faith communities. The author’s particular focus is the endemic disparities and systemic failures that prevent low-income students from realizing the promise of a quality education.
The book makes a compelling case that the academic achievement gap in public schools is a moral issue that demands the attention of faith communities.
The book’s narrative is deeply personal, drawing on the author’s experiences as a student in the Detroit Public School system, as part of the Teach for America movement, and as a Christian. Yet it paints a compelling portrait of the bigger picture as well, giving readers a sense of the policies, politics, and economics of school reform. Where others see intractable problems, the author sees hope and possibility grounded in her unshakable conviction that every child is capable of academic success if given the right opportunities.
Educating All God’s Children is most helpful in addressing the question of why American churchgoers should care about underperforming schools and students. Chapter Five explores three interwoven themes to construct a biblical framework for focusing on the needs of schools — the inherent potential of each and every child created in God’s image, the scriptural mandate to care for the poor, and God’s heart for justice. The book does not prescribe solutions, advocate a specific change agenda, or provide many how-to details for churches getting started in work with local schools. Its goal is to motivate and mobilize people of faith to be advocates and change agents in the quest for quality education for all children. Its task is a prophetic one, calling God’s people — individually and collectively — to faithfulness in the face of apathy and injustice.