Faith Coalition: Improving education for the present and future – The State Journal-Register


What is an education worth? What dollar value can you put on the price tag of a quality, equitable education?

As a child, I attended public schools. I knew what it was like going to schools that were lacking in resources, without books, without updated materials, short staffed, and teacher strikes. I remember waiting in line to enter school because students were admitted based on the number of teachers in the building, those who crossed the picket line. I remember what it was like to have teachers and staff care for me, care about me and who wanted me to have a quality education. They freely sacrificed their time and resources to fill in the gaps. My education would not have been as effective if my earlier foundation had not been secured.

My formative years were lived in East St. Louis, a city known to be among the most impoverished cities in the state of Illinois. My mother, a “homemaker,” was on the local committee that brought Head Start to the community. My father was a butcher at Swift Packing House and an entrepreneur. My father completed 6th grade and my mother attended Lincoln University. Later, in her senior years, she completed and received an associate degree at Lincoln Land Community College. Because of my parents, I understood the value of a quality education.

When my parents separated, we moved to Springfield. Change can be very unsettling, uncomfortable and disturbing. The only thing that does not change in life is the fact that there is always change. To those who believe that change will not be effective, to those who think that change does not make a difference, I stand as a witness that it does. Although all eight children in the family attended college, I was the first child to receive a college degree. The change our family made gave us the availability of resources and increased opportunities that enabled me to receive college degrees and become a licensed teacher.

I am involved in Faith Coalition for the Common Good Education Task Force and Ntosake because of my past experiences. In the past, I was co-chair of the Education Task Force. The FCCG Education Task Force strives to work on eradicating educational disparities, institutional racism, collaborating with educational institutions while advocating for change, and lobbying for equitable education laws as well as educational funding. Ntosake (a women-oriented task force) provides a leadership model for women to take an active role as change agents. FCCG trains its members in leadership development while encouraging and empowering leaders to take an active role in their community. The leadership trainings are held on the local, state and national levels where members can network with stakeholders.

In our nation, we are at a crossroad. We have the opportunity to not only affect our now but also our future. The now of our children’s education will affect the future for all of us. We cannot make the change needed without adequate and equitable distribution of funding, resources, materials and opportunities.

Our nation is changing. We cannot make the necessary changes without effective collaboration and unbiased mutual respect. For our nation’s sake and for our children (regardless of certain demographics — ethnicity, socio-economic status, and geographic location), we need to change.

Linda Byrd is a leader for Faith Coalition for the Common Good, a collective change agent working at the grassroots level. For more information: 544-2297; fccg2208@gmail.com; www.faithcoalitionil.org.

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