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Churches Council Advocates Involvement in Public Schools

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The National Council of Churches of Christ (nccc), the largest ecumenical organization in the country with 32 member denominations, has produced a discussion guide for its members that is designed to lead to local involvement in education issues. "It is not an exaggeration to say that we have a crisis in public education today," says the Rev. Allan J. Burry, university minister at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and chairman of the committee that produced the guide.

For that reason, says Margaret L. Shafer of the church group, and because it is interested in "mobilizing support for public education, we feel that church people should be in there supporting, encouraging, and working with public-education institutions."

Called "Critical Issues in Elementary and Secondary Education," the guide is intended for use by small groups of parents, community and education leaders, and teachers.

The materials do not deal specifically with topics such as school prayer, tuition tax credits, drugs, and violence, but the questions posed in the guide can lead to discussion of these issues.

The materials are divided into six areas of questions:

"Whose understanding of education gives direction to education in a community? Whose goals prevail?

"Who is responsible for education in a community?

"Who benefits or profits from education in a community? Whose needs come first: those of students or those of others?

"Who pays for education in a community?

"What methods, materials, and procedures are necessary for education in a community? Are these things influenced by particular ideologies?

"How can the quality of education in a community be assessed?"

The guide is available to any interested group, Ms. Shafer said. Single copies are available for $2.50 from Education in the Society, nccc, Room 710, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, N.Y. 10115-0050.--ah

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