National Coalition of More Than 150 Faith-Based Leaders Urge Congress to Support Families with Educational Options and Relief

Across our country, millions of children have access to a quality education in an environment that fits their needs. They graduate from high school, enroll in college or vocational/trade school, and they get opportunities in the workforce. They’re less likely to commit crimes or experience violence and bullying, and they can realize their full potential as human beings.

Those children are attending the K-12 schools of their family’s choice.

Meanwhile, millions of other students are forced to attend a school based upon the five digits at the end of their home address. Unless a family has the financial resources to relocate to a neighborhood with higher quality public schools or enroll their child in a private school that better fits his or her needs, they will be trapped in a system that has likely failed their community for decades.

These children who are stuck in an educational environment that doesn’t meet their needs cannot wait another year or five years or ten years for systemic change. The need for alternatives, for greater educational choice, is urgent because the crisis is so widespread.

The vast majority of children in America read below grade level. Sixty-five percent (65%) of fourth graders are below proficient in reading according to the latest national assessment. The statistics are far worse for students of color. This is a tragedy and it should not be tolerated any longer. Yet, those in control of our K-12 system are resistant to necessary change and broadcast the same platitudes and promises that have gone unfulfilled for generations.

There is no more time to wait. Our children need better options immediately. As leaders of the faith community dedicated to empowering our families and lifting our children, we urge all leaders to help open the doors to new educational opportunities – right now.

Millions of students can access schools of their choice when it comes to college, so why not provide those same scholarship opportunities to the critical, formative years in elementary and secondary schools? Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia currently do this to varying degrees. Twenty years of study also show that when families are given the freedom to choose the best educational option for their children, all schools improve, student outcomes improve, and families are more satisfied as rising tides lifts all boats.

Each child is a unique son or daughter of God. Each child has unique needs, values, talents, dreams, and desires, but sadly, the one-size-fits-all educational system has essentially become one-size-fits-none system. Every child in every state, regardless of their family’s income, deserves the dignity of a high-quality education. Every child, regardless of ZIP code, deserves a school that expands rather than limits opportunity. And we all deserve a community that will come together and stand up for the best interests of our children.

Therefore, we, fellow leaders of faith, urge our policymakers and community leaders to empower families with the freedom and opportunity to select the best education for their children. We encourage you to commit to actively support the efforts to strengthen and/or pass state educational choice scholarship programs for all lower-income and working-class families and the federal Education Freedom Scholarships legislation.

National Coalition of Faith-Based Leaders in Education
A Special Project of AFC

Bishop Darryl S. Brister
Beacon Light International Baptist Cathedral
Pastor Brenda Timberlake
Christian Faith Center
Rev. H.K. Matthews
Presiding Elder Emeritus of the
South Alabama Conference of A.M.E. Zion
Pastor Renee Flower-Hornbuckle
Destiny Pointe Christian Center
Dr. Ron Thomas
Reconciliation Apostolic Ministries
Pastor Chris Garcia
Pneuma Church
 James Adams – Miami, FL
Idubel Aguirre – Las Vegas, NV
Rafael Aguirre – Las Vegas, NV
Angeles Alfaro – North Las Vegas, NV
Elisha Barnes – Apopka, FL
Todd Barnes – Apopka, FL
Maritza Berrios – Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
Shasta Blue – Memphis, TN
Jose Bonilla – Henderson, NV
John Borders – Stoughton, MA
Chalaundra Bradley – Memphis, TN
Herbert Brisbun – New Orleans, LA
Darryl Brister – New Orleans, LA
Gregory Brooks – New Orleans, LA
Syntel Brown – Griffin, GA
Adam Burgess – Jonesboro, GA
Clarissa Butler – Orlando, FL
Marty Campbell – Monroe, LA
Pamela Cassimere – Ville Platte, LA
Luis Cepeda – Bridgewater Township, NJ
Dominic Clark – Ocoee, FL
Johnnie Clark – Lathrop, CA
Joe Connelly – New Orleans, LA
Mary Connelly – Valdese, NC
Clifton Conrad – New Orleans, LA
Carlos Contreras – Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
William Cox – Battle Mountain, NV
Ronnie Crockett – Kenner, LA
Sam Crouch – Lee, NV
Ivelisse Davila – Fajardo, Fajardo
Yuri Davis – New York, NY
Mario de la Mora – Las Vegas, NV
Allen Duhon – Chalmette, LA
Matthew Ehlen – Las Vegas, NV
Kristen Elizondo – Las Vegas, NV
Demetrio Escobar – Las Vegas, NV
Demetrio Escobar – Las Vegas, NV
Hilda Espadas – Las Vegas, NV
Carolyn Fields – Memphis, TN
Lamont Finch – North Miami, FL
Weldon Fraizer – New Orleans, LA
Carlos Fuentes – Las Vegas, NV
Chandra Fugh – Memphis, TN
Rita Futrell – Savannah, GA
Marco Gamboa – Las Vegas, NV
Christian Garcia – Miami, FL
Gail Gardner – Ocoee, FL
Andrea Gates – Adamsville, AL
Marleny Gonzalez – Alexandria, VA
Paul Goulet – Las Vegas, NV
Alicia Grarcia – Las Vegas, NV
Doneshia Green – Orlando, FL
Ronald Gregory – Vernonburg, GA
Héctor Guzman – Las Vegas, NV
Cleophus Hall – North Miami, FL
Richard Hall – Pooler, GA
Landers Hardy – Winter Springs, FL
LaBaron Hedgemon – Marion, MS
Frederick Henderson – New Orleans, LA
P. Hendley – Fort Pierce, FL
Frank holland – Las Vegas, NV
Linda Holland – Las Vegas, NV
Renee Hornbuckle – Arlington, TX
Aaron Hudson – Millington, TN
Sheila Humphrey – Memphis, TN
Adams James – Miami, FL
Tyrone Jefferson – New Orleans, LA
Cynthia Johnson – Memphis, TN
John Johnson – New Orleans, LA
Tim Johnson – Belle Isle, FL
Kenya Jones – Memphis, TN
Vonna Jones – Memphis, TN
Yvonne Joshua – Antioch, CA
Thomas Key – Meridian, MS
Derek Lee – Orlando, FL
Henry Leonard – Conyers, GA
Frank Lightfoot – Memphis, TN
Evelyn lilton – Memphis, TN
David Lim – Las Vegas, NV
Christopher Long – TN
Juana Lopez – Las Vegas, NV
Sidney Malone – Fisherville, TN
Marta Marquez – NC
Jonathan Marshall – East Point, GA
Maxine Marshall – Fisherville, TN
Tecia Marshall – Memphis, TN
Silma Martínez – Las Vegas, NV
Hawthorne Matthews – Brewton, AL
Tyrone McIntosh – Orlando, FL
Kenneth McKinney – Memphis, TN
Metrell McKinney – New Orleans, LA
Derrick McRae – Windermere, FL
Orlando Merida – Las Vegas, NV
David Middleton – Memphis, TN
Tammy Middleton – TN
Eldridge Moll – Tickfaw, LA
Judah Montenegro – Glendale, AZ
Steve Montenegro – Goodyear, AZ
Christopher Moore – New Orleans, LA
Elizabeth Moreno – Las Vegas, NV
Rosa Morris – TN
Theodora Moten – Austin, TX
Dean Nelson – Gaithersburg, MD
Nettie Ozier – Memphis, TN
José Pagán – Las Vegas, NV
Kendall Phillips – Deepstep, GA
De’Andre Pickett – Hampton, GA
Andrew Poh – Mccarran, NV
Cathy Polyak – Las Vegas, NV
Darrell Porter – Las Vegas, NV
Angela Powell – Creedmoor, NC
Laura Price – New Orleans, LA
Merlisa Pugh – New Orleans, LA
Camilo Pérez – Henderson, NV
Olden Reese – FL
Deveina Reynolds – Citronelle, AL
Elvira Rincón – Las Vegas, NV
Jose Rincón – Las Vegas, NV
Damian Rivas – Las Vegas, NV
Billy Rivers – Memphis, TN
Kermit Roberson – New Orleans, LA
Dexter Rush – Memphis, TN
Bermann Sejour – Biscayne Park, FL
Danny Smith – Albany, CA
Gloria Smith – Huntersville, NC
Shaddy Soliman – Heathrow, FL
Samuel Stanton – Fallon, NV
Edward Stephens – Fisherville, TN
Bill Stevenson – Mesquite, NV
Derrick Strong – New Orleans, LA
Anthony Taplin – New Orleans, LA
Debreita Taylor – Orlando, FL
Ronald Thomas – Las Vegas, NV
Leona Thompson – Chesapeake, VA
Willie Thompson – Chesapeake, VA
Brenda Timberlake – Creedmoor, NC
Tim Timberlake – Jacksonville, FL
Merry Trujillo – Las Vegas, NV
Pasqual Urrabazo – Las Vegas, NV
Charlie Vaughn – Austin, NV
Chrain Walls – Ocoee, FL
Justin Watkins – Memphis, TN
Aubery Watson – New Orleans, LA
Steve Whitaker – FL
Yolanda Whitfield – Lewisville, TX
Allen Wiggins – Orlando, FL
Clarence Williams – Savannah, GA
Domonique Williams – Fayetteville, GA
Inez Williams – New Orleans, LA
Samuel Williams – Vernonburg, GA
Siegfried Williams – Eutaw, AL
Lavern Williamson – North Miami Beach, FL
Cedric Wilson – New Orleans, LA
Beatrice Wright – New Orleans, LA
James Wright – Miami Gardens, FL
Keshia Wright – Apopka, FL
Bennie Yarbrough – Alafaya, FL
Ernesto Zarraval – North Las Vegas, NV