In a nation in which only half of the children from low-income communities complete high school, and only one in 10 graduate from college, it may seem like “no child left behind” is little more than an empty slogan. How can local communities respond to the reality of overwhelming gaps and shortages in our schools? There are few issues more urgent, and few people are addressing that issue as profoundly and passionately as Nicole Baker Fulgham.
A keynote speaker at this year’s Inhabit conference, Fulgham is the founder and president of The Expectations Project, a non-profit organization that raises up people to help close the academic achievement gap in public schools. She is the author of Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can—and Should—Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids, and she was named one of “14 Faith Leaders to Watch in 2014″ by the Center for American Progress. Born in Detroit, Fulgham began her work with under-resourced schools as a fifth grade teacher with Teach for America in Compton, California. She later held several leadership roles on Teach for America’s national staff, including Vice President of Faith Community Relations.
“The academic achievement gap,” writes Fulgham, “in a well-resourced country like ours, is a tragic moral injustice that should move people of faith to action. As Christians, let’s take stock of how we’re working to eliminate this problem. […] Are we mobilizing our church communities to volunteer, tutor, and provide much-needed supplies to under-resourced schools? Are we mobilizing on behalf of students to demand that lawmakers create policies that will improve the quality of their education?”
When children are not equipped with the education and tools they need to succeed, the ripples disrupt every aspect of our parishes. As communities of faith embedded in our neighborhoods, towns, and cities, what does it look like for us to stand alongside our local students, teachers, parents, and administrators? We can’t wait to hear what Nicole Baker Fulgham has to say, and we can’t wait for you to join the conversation.