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May 12, 2000 GC-076

United Methodists urge support for public education

CLEVELAND (UMNS) — Continuing a 250-year tradition of supporting schools, delegates to the United Methodist Church’s top legislative meeting have adopted a resolution supporting public education in the United States.

The United Methodist Church has been an advocate of public education, "and now at a time when public education has become a political battleground, the church is called to remember ... the well-being of all God's children," the resolution stated. The church has a moral responsibility to strengthen, support and reform public schools, which are the entry point of most children into economic, political and community life, delegates said in the resolution, adopted May 12.

Education also has been a factor in the development of religious faith, but the resolution urged parents to resist the temptation to use public schools to advance any one religion or ethnic tradition.

In 1996, delegates adopted "Education: A Gift of Hope," as a United Methodist study document that calls for reclaiming the Methodist heritage and commitment both to public and private education. At that General Conference, delegates noted that education will remain at the center of the church's mission and is significant for preparing a new generation of Christian leaders.

By passing the new resolution, delegates to the 2000 General Conference said that local churches and all communities of faith must become better informed about the needs of public schools.

Delegates, through the legislation, called on local churches, annual conferences and the churchwide agencies to support public education with a 22-point plan that includes:

Establishing partnerships with local public schools, such as after-school programs or literacy and reading programs.

Monitoring reform efforts in public schools, including the creation of charter and magnet schools and classes sized to meet the needs of all children.

Encouraging school libraries to provide quality materials to expand students’ understanding of human life throughout the world.

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--Linda Green

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