When you were young, did anyone ever call you a “fraidy cat” or a “scaredy cat?” Those phrases were usually used after someone had double-dog-dared you to do something stupid. You were actually exercising some wisdom and your double-dog-daring friend threw the “fraidy cat” slur at you. Nobody wants to be a “fraidy cat,” and we do lots of things to keep others from thinking that we have fears.
Well, I cannot remember the last time someone called me a “fraidy cat,” before this week. I was reading an article that quoted some comments from Ed Gamble, who leads the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools.
Mr. Gamble believes that the reason more pastors don’t speak out about the failures of public schools is because they are afraid. He also thinks that God is going to judge those pastors for their failure to inform their congregations about failing public schools.
Did you hear that? He called me a “fraidy cat!” Then he threw “judgment of God” in there from the other direction. So now I am not sure whether I am afraid to speak out about the failures of public schools for fear of what someone in my congregation might think, or if I am afraid not to speak out for fear of how God will judge me. Mr. Gamble is rather adept at creating a climate of fear.
Nevertheless, I really don’t like to be called a “fraidy cat,” so here are my top 10 ways that public schools are “failing.”
10. They fail to exclude students with physical or mental disabilities that make learning difficult.
9. They fail to exclude students who don’t live in the right neighborhoods. Public schools are everywhere, not just in the backyards of suburban churches.
8. They fail to exclude students who cannot afford tuition, books or supplies.
7. They fail to let children go hungry who cannot afford to pay for lunch or breakfast.
6. They fail to exclude students because of race, ethnicity or religious creed.
5. They fail to teach from a narrow, outdated worldview that does not recognize advances made in all academic fields of study.
4. They fail to advocate the beliefs of one particular religion.
3. They fail to recognize that some children just cannot be taught.
2. They fail to quit teaching children when confronted with a barrage of criticism from political and religious leaders.
1. They fail to refuse any student the education needed to live life, embrace liberty and pursue happiness.
Indeed, our public schools are failing in these and many other ways. And I am glad that they are doing so.
However, one thing that all of our schools need–be they public, private or home schools–is our prayers. Please remember to pray for our students and those that teach them this week.
Ed Sunday-Winters is senior pastor at Ball Camp Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn.
Ed Sunday-Winters is pastor of Greensboro United Church of Christ in Greensboro, Vermont.