An Emergency Resolution to Affirm the Critical Importance of Quality Public Education and to Invite People of Faith to Stand with United Church of Christ Communities in Springfield Against the Destruction of Urban Schools.
Approved by the 206th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ, June 4, 2005
BIBLICAL AND THEOLOGICAL RATIONALE
WHEREAS the prophet Jeremiah reminds us that we find our ownwelfare by seeking the welfare of the city in which we dwell (Jeremiah 29:7) and Jesus himself appreciated the vital role of teachers in one's growth and development (Luke 2:46). In fact, teaching is considered one of the most valuable of the gifts of the spirit (I Corinthians 12:28). Jesus also had a profound appreciation for children (Matthew 19:14), and instructed his disciples to tend to the needs of the young (John 21:15); and
WHEREAS the UCC Statement of Faith suggests that we are called "into the church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be servants in the service of the whole human family, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil," (United Church of Christ Statement of Faith-adapted by Robert V. Moss). And we are otherwise counseled that "By God's grace, we will be a supportive church. We commit ourselves to strengthen Christ's body through renewed resolve and mutual support in our common ministries." (Toward the 21st Century: A Statement of Commitment); and
WHEREAS we have a collective and moral imperative to insure the quality of education for all of our children. If the educational system in one locale can be placed in critical jeopardy by the short-sighted political and financial considerations of a powerful few, then the educational system is in jeopardy for all of our communities. The City of Springfield is only the first city in our state to experience such crushing blows to its children.
THE RESOLUTION IN SPECIFIC
WHEREAS, in the City of Springfield, school budget cuts have left students without the most essential supplies and resources, including paper and up-to-date textbooks; and
WHEREAS, because of budgetcuts, low wages, failing resources, and the interminable struggle with the state imposed Control Board, in the last year nearly 200 excellent, "highly qualified" teachers have left the Springfield schools for neighboring school systems, and many of their positions remain unfilled; and
WHEREAS, in the past three years, these same budget cuts have forced the elimination of more than 300 teaching positions and more than 200 paraprofessional positions, meaning fewer services for students and more work for the teachers who remain; and
WHEREAS The outsiders who make up the majority on Governor Romney's Financial Control Board have no interest or stake in preserving the quality of our schools or our quality of life. Their focus is exclusively on balancing the city budget - no matter what the cost to our schools and our children.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we the delegates to the 206th Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Conference United Church of Christ invite all churches in the Conference to:
- Pray for the health and vitality of all our school systems, and especially the school system in Springfield.
- Encourage local church members to contact the legislative delegations from their areas and speak to them about the deplorable way that the control board is dealing with the Springfield school system.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we encourage local church clergy and community spiritual leaders to join Springfield area spiritual leaders at the State House on June 22, at noon, for a service of prayer in behalf of Urban school districts.