Today, a resolution urging a mass exodus of children from public schools was rejected by delegates at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Indianapolis.
"Today's vote by a very conservative body should be seen as a powerful repudiation of anti-public education extremists," said People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas. "The failure of this irresponsible resolution indicates that support for public schools is strong among Southern Baptists just as it is among Americans as a whole. A vast majority of parents prefer quality public schools to any other option."
T.C. Pinckney, a former second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and Bruce N. Shortt, the Texas State Coordinator for Exodus Mandate, submitted the resolution, which urged the SBC to encourage officers and members to "remove their children from the government schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly Christian education." The resolution advocated that all churches associated with the Southern Baptist Convention provide either home schooling or attend private Christian schools. According to Pinckney and Shortt's resolution, "it is foolish for Christians to give their children to be trained in schools run by the enemies of God."
Neas cited the push for the resolution and its high-level supporters as "additional evidence that there is a determined ideological movement to undermine and dismantle public education in America," adding that the success of that movement "would be devastating to our children and our communities. Public schools educate poor children and teach children how to live and work in a diverse community. They have produced entrepreneurs, presidents and leaders in every conceivable profession. Public schools are the heart of a community," said Neas.
Several key figures in the Religious Right have embraced an orchestrated, national campaign that urges parents to remove their children from public education. Supporters of these "removal" campaigns believe that by dramatically downsizing the constituency of public schools, a mass exodus campaign would reduce public schools' ability to mobilize support for funding and reforms. Over time, this could lead to a de facto privatized system.
People For the American Way Foundation is nationally recognized as an expert on the Religious Right's attacks on public education. To learn more about efforts to privatize schools, see http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=11371 .