Educating All God's Children

What Christians Can—and Should—Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids

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America strives to be a land of equal opportunity, but our nation's public schools are not leveling the playing field for the fifteen million children growing up in poverty. By the time kids in low-income communities are in fourth grade, they're already three grade levels behind their peers in wealthier communities. More than half won't graduate from high school--and many that do graduate only perform at an eighth-grade level. Only one in ten will go on to graduate from college. These students have severely diminished opportunities for personal prosperity and professional success.

Education expert Nicole Baker Fulgham explores what Christians can--and should--do to champion urgently needed reform and help improve our public schools. The book provides concrete action steps for working to ensure that all of God's children get the quality public education they deserve. It also features personal narratives from the author and other Christian public school teachers that demonstrate how the achievement gap in public education can be solved.
 
Contents
Introduction
1. A School System Deeply Divided: Notes from Detroit and Compton
2. Root Causes, Systemic Factors, and Myths
3. The Good News: Hard Work Yields Success for All Children
4. A Biblical Framework: Children, Justice, and Human Potential
5. A Rich History, An Absent Voice
6. Motivating and Sustaining Faith
7. Closing the Awareness Gap
8. Laborers in the Movement
9. Faith-based Advocacy
10. Never Again
Additional Resources

Endorsements

"Educating All God's Children is a compelling call to a new generation of Christians to fight poverty and injustice through committing themselves to education. Nicole Baker Fulgham is a leader who gives me hope for the future of the church and for educational equality in America. Her passion and dedication to her faith and to tackling one of the greatest challenges of our time is clear on every page. Anyone looking for a practical and faithful means of changing the world should read this book at once."

Jim Wallis, president and CEO, Sojourners; author of On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned about Serving the Common Good

"Justice will on occasion march, on other occasions protest, and on yet other occasions sing; but justice will always speak for those that cannot speak for themselves. Educating All God's Children stands as a justice manifesto on behalf of millions who stand crippled by the epidemic of educational disparity. Nicole Baker Fulgham understands that successful movements in America require the engagement of the followers of Jesus. Accordingly, this book serves as a clarion call for the church of Jesus Christ to rise with a prophetic and moral imperative to reform our public schools."

Samuel Rodriguez, president, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Hispanic Evangelical Association

"A powerful, engaging book about one of the most urgent challenges facing our nation today. Combining moving stories with solid data, Educating All God's Children is a ringing challenge to provide quality education for all our children. Excellent."

Ronald J. Sider, president, Evangelicals for Social Action

"Nicole Baker Fulgham weaves personal experience, national statistics, educational theory, biblical teaching, and practical examples into a compelling call to transform public schools from worst to first. Everyone who cares about America's children must read this book."

Leith Anderson, president, National Association of Evangelicals, Washington, DC


The Author

  1. Nicole Baker Fulgham

    Nicole Baker Fulgham

    Nicole Baker Fulgham (PhD, UCLA) is president and founder of The Expectations Project, a national organization that mobilizes people of faith to support public education reform and close the academic achievement gap. She is the former vice president of faith...

    Continue reading about Nicole Baker Fulgham

Reviews

"Despite a strain of anti-intellectualism among extreme Christian conservatives, Christianity has historically been at the forefront in promoting both public and private educational systems. Baker Fulgham, who leads a faith-based education reform group, makes this point as she calls on Christians . . . to once again lead the way. While contributing valuable data on the 'achievement gap' between low- and high-income schools, the systemic inequities that shape academic outcomes, and innovative grassroots models of church and public school partnerships, she excels at illustrating biblical principles and personal stories in a conversational tone sure to engage the reader. Her goal is clear: she's on a mission to bring more people of faith into the fight to save the minds of America's low-income children. Given the unpopularity of tax increases of any kind, however, it will be critical for Christians--especially the evangelicals whom Baker Fulgham particularly addresses--to use their 'strong and powerful advocacy voice' for policies that will close educational gaps. Baker Fulgham is well-informed and stands on a firm historical foundation."

Publishers Weekly

"Fulgham draws on her extensive experience as a teacher in poor regions of the United States to piece together this account of the harsh realities and inherent inequities of the American public education system. By walking readers through a survey of the current state of education in low-income areas, Fulgham successfully paints a picture showing the urgent need to move toward bridging a gross educational gap in public schools. She helps readers dispel the misperception that students in underachieving schools lack the competencies necessary to find educational success and to parlay that into lifelong opportunities. Pointing to the role of faith-based advocacy groups in major social revolutions such as desegregation, Fulgham calls for a similar movement to close the education gap. . . . Fulgham's call to action includes simple steps that individuals and groups can take to effect change. . . . This is an intriguing survey of the current inequity in education and would be a valuable read for any teacher, community organizer, or religiously oriented person or group moved to work toward the ultimate improvement of American society."

Brenna Smeall,

Library Journal

"The book is written for lay Christians unfamiliar with the scope of the achievement gap and what ordinary faithful citizens can do to close it. Fulgham is multifaceted in her approach to the problem. . . . Fulgham also offers a thorough discussion of root causes and systemic factors. One vitally important contribution is her specific focus on the historic racial dynamics involved in the desegregation of public schools and the corresponding exit of white Christians from the newly integrated public system. . . . Her invitation to the church is clear and candid: 'At its best, the church can provide a wonderful example of cross-cultural understanding and courageous leadership.' This insight demands a reflection on the role of religious people in addressing systemic injustice throughout history. . . . It is my prayer we can respond to the challenge she sets before us."

Stephanie Summers,

Prism

"Nicole Baker Fulgham [is] a thoughtful and calm-in-the-storm leader. . . . Nicole's book comes from a Christian perspective, but raises I think critical questions for all of us--of all faiths and lacks thereof--about why we are pursuing education equity. . . . Even as a religious skeptic I find the questions Nicole poses deeply personally provocative. . . . Nicole's personal reflections, for me, marry together the values and the actions at the heart of our work."

Steven Farr,

Teach For America blog

"[Baker Fulgham's] book offers a candid theological plea for Christians (and, by implication, especially Republican Christians) to prioritize educational equity alongside issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Educating All God's Children convincingly shows scriptural mandates for closing the educational gap between low-income areas and wealthier communities. . . . Filling heads with knowledge may be harder than filling backpacks with food, but it's no less worthy, and urgent, an undertaking."

Jerry Pattengale,

Christianity Today

"Many U.S. children living in poverty are further penalized by struggling public schools. Nicole Baker Fulgham . . . offers passionate, practical solutions in Educating All God's Children."

Julie Polter,

Sojourners

"What can--and should--Christians do to improve public education for low-income children? Fulgham explores the answer to that question and shows how the fight against poverty and injustice starts with a commitment to education."

US Catholic

"If there is any doubt that public education is in crisis then Nicole Baker Fulgham's book, Educating All God's Children, should convince the most dubious skeptic. Early on she outlines the inequities most of us have become accustomed to. . . . Many of us have heard [the] statics often enough that we no longer really hear them; Educating All God's Children makes sure we listen closely while beginning to imagine a different future. It is the author's great accomplishment that her book is accessible, informative, and--no small success given the topic--enjoyable to read. . . . Another of the author's achievements is the hope that fills the pages despite the grim statistics and disappointing history that she honestly acknowledges. . . . The book also features many stories of ordinary teachers, students, and recently awakened advocates. Fulgham also incudes a substantial resource list for those interested in pursuing education reform."

David Swanson,

Englewood Review of Books

"Fulgham offers a pragmatic foundation for equal education by constructing a biblical context for God's expectations. . . . Fulgham makes strong recommendations and provides examples and narratives of service in action. She provides a host of tools for Christian individuals, churches, and leaders who would begin casting a vision to address substandard education in America. . . . The author's own personal narrative is deeply rooted in this timely call for Christians to focus on addressing issues of educational inequity as an injustice. Fulgham makes a passionate plea for service and tells a compelling story to capture both the reader's heart and stimulate deeper thinking. This book could supplement Christian higher education teacher education curricula and would serve to provide a foundation and inspiration for developing outreach policy at religious institutions."

Suzanne Schmidt,

Journal of Education and Christian Belief

"This important book looks at the root causes and systemic factors in th[e] achievement gap, which Fulgham calls 'a nationwide epidemic,' and considers a biblical framework for addressing it."

Gordon Houser,

The Mennonite

"Fulgham introduces her readers to the brokenness of America's public school system. But Fulgham, an educator and founder of a faith-based education reform group, also offers solutions. She roots out some of the causes of the gaping achievement gap and then asserts that Christians and public schools can and should work together to close it. She lays out a simple action plan that seeks to mobilize Christians to 'do justice' for the 15 million children who are living in poverty. . . . The book concludes with over 10 pages of websites, books, and documentaries Christians and educators can use to learn more."

Kathryn Hoffman,

The Banner

"Nicole's call for action is not only compelling, it's biblical. . . . Working with local public schools is a start, but Nicole presses Christians to also address more systemic issues."

Helen Channing,

Called

"The book hopes to inspire Christians to engage with low-income public schools and lays out practical ways to do it."

Susan Olasky,

WORLD Magazine

"A well-researched, well-organized book that will prove useful to both educators and the church in examining what they can do to empower students to do better in their classes and to be more confident about their own abilities. . . . [Baker Fulgham's] varied experiences and education are what add to the quality and academic clarity of her book. . . . Having been in education (both public and private: both secular and Christian) for nearly 20 years now, I have to admit a certain amount of trepidation in approaching this book. . . . Fulgham's book . . . is probably the most useful that I have read for several reasons. First, she takes the time to break down each of the issues into manageable sub-sections. These allow her to be specific about the larger problems that she is talking about. This has the benefit of addressing specific concerns that her audience might have. . . . Additionally, the clear, well-chosen facts and statistics she regularly uses clearly relate to a particular issue rather than being loose and non-relatable."

Trent Nicholson,

blog (drtnicholson.wordpress.com)


Resources


Media

Introducing "Educating All God's Children" What Challenges Face Public Education? Why Should Christians Champion Public Education? What Can Christians Do to Improve Public Education?