We all probably know Jesus’ Good Samaritan parable. But I often miss the mark when it comes to applying this to my own life. As the political climate in Kansas is turning against public education, I’ve been led to thinking about the issue of public education in terms of this passage of scripture.
Luke 10:29 says: The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
When I apply this passage to public education, I have to ask myself “are these children my neighbor?” Children have no choice about where they live or their family circumstances. Is the child of a single parent struggling to make ends meet my neighbor? Is the child a member of a family dealing with unemployment or large medical bills my neighbor? Is the child of a migrant worker my neighbor? Is the child who can’t speak English my neighbor? Is the child who suffered a debilitating illness and now lives with severe disabilities my neighbor? Is the child living with his/her grandparent my neighbor? Is the child getting on the school bus at 6:30 in the morning to get to the nearest school by 8 am my neighbor? All of these children are important to God. As a Christian, shouldn’t they be important to me?
Jesus answered the man with the story of the Good Samaritan and then asked the man, “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” (Luke 10:36-38)
When it comes to education in Kansas, many are arguing against equatable funding of public education. Some are even arguing for the privatization of education. If I were to go along with either of those arguments, I would be saying that the child in that home struggling to make ends meet doesn’t deserve access to education. Or, I would be saying children of migrant workers, even if they were born in the United States (and thus citizens), don’t deserve an education since they can’t speak English. Or, I would be saying children with severe disabilities don’t deserve an education tailored to their needs. Or, would I be saying that children in rural Kansas don’t deserve a local school even if it is small so they don’t have to ride the school bus for more than an hour?
The Samaritan showed mercy by tending to the needs of the traveler and even paid for some of his care. If I assume the role of the Samaritan in regards to the education of children, shouldn’t I be concerned with tending to their individual needs? Isn’t caring for the educational needs of the disabled the intent of special education programs in our public schools? Isn’t caring for the educational needs of non-English speakers the intent of the English as Second Language program in our public schools? Isn’t caring for the nutritional needs of children living in poverty the intent of the Free/Reduced lunch programs in our public schools? Doesn’t the child living in rural Kansas deserve the same access to an education as the child living in Johnson County?
If I assume the role of the Samaritan, shouldn’t I be willing to help pay for the education — the equitable education — of these children. Isn’t this what Christ is commanding me to do when he said, “Now go and do the same.”?
These children are my neighbors. They deserve an education no matter their family situation or where they live in the state.
Aren’t they our neighbors?
Aren’t we all called to show mercy by supporting public education, an equatable education?