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Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) webinar to explore ways to protect public education

A Sept. 27 discussion featuring the Educate a Child roundtable will encourage engagement and advocacy

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — As communities in various parts of the country grapple with equity issues related to public education, a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) webinar is being held Sept. 27 to discuss Presbyterian policy and how to get involved in advocating for youngsters.

The event, “Loving Your Neighbor: How You Can Protect Public Education and Speak Up for Our Children,” will be offered from 1-2:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Sept. 27 via Zoom and will feature members of the PC(USA)’s Educate a Child roundtable with its convener, the Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson.

The Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson (Photo by Rich Copley)

“People need to know that Presbyterians have something to say about public education and that we actually really care about it and that it’s a really integral part of our DNA,” said Johnson, coordinator of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People.

Register here to participate in the live webinar or to receive a recording.

The roundtable is part of the Educate a Child, Transform the World initiative, which was created in response to the 221st General Assembly of the PC(USA), which desired a churchwide initiative to improve the quality of public education for children throughout the United States and the world.

Webinar speakers will talk about the importance of community members —and not just parents — being engaged in school issues and becoming knowledgeable about local school board candidates.

As individuals, “we need to know who those people are, and the importance of how they think,” said roundtable member Dr. Wanda Beauman, a former school principal and the former moderator of Denver Presbytery. For example, “what’s their philosophy? What’s their track record.”

The roundtable also will strive to raise awareness of PC(USA) resources, such as the Educate a Child toolkit and the Educate a Child Congregational Covenant for churches that are committed to ensuring that all children have access to quality public education.

The Educate a Child initiative and the upcoming workshop align with the church’s Matthew 25 invitation. Among other things, Matthew 25 seeks to dismantle structural racism and eradicate systemic poverty, topics that both intersect with education, both historically and in recent years.

Laura Zhang Choi (Contributed photo)

One of the webinar speakers will be Laura Zhang Choi, a school board member in New Jersey who’s worried about movements targeting the LGBTQIA+ community and challenging things like diverse books and inclusive curriculum.

“As an educator trained in public education and Christian education, I believe that loving and caring for all the kids in our communities is an extension of the congregational promises to raise each child in faith and in the ways of Jesus Christ at each child’s baptism and a response to the call to love our neighbors,” said Zhang Choi, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary who’s pursuing a divinity degree from New Brunswick Theological Seminary. “In this case, they are literally the young neighbors in the communities where we reside.”

She added, “If we truly believe that Jesus would not prevent any child from seeking him, that each child is beloved by God and created in God’s image, it is the responsibility of those who profess that to make sure that ALL children in our communities are safe, and that we’d speak up and take a stand when any groups of children and/or their families are targeted and done so in the name of God.”

For more information about the Sept. 27 webinar, go here.

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