When I taught at St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, a member school in Baltimore, MD, we were in session on MLK Day applying Dr. King’s message to various civil rights issues affecting our students, the city of Baltimore, our country and the world. I remember rich, spirited days of learning and growth with individuals stepping forward in dynamic ways to contribute to the broader community. Recent Facebook posts from our member schools (see sidebar) indicate a similar vibrancy this year to remembering Dr. King, his historical legacy and his presence today. Across the Coalition, the day was spent serving in the community, hosting a prayer service, participating in a community-wide event to commemorate Dr. King with other leaders and students, engaging in dialogue on issues of race and equity, and enriching minds and readying for the future with special learning projects.
It is clear that the celebration of Martin Luther King, JR resonates with the mission of our school communities and that the collective message of the NativityMiguel Coalition aligns well with Dr. King’s message:
- All students deserve access to quality education. This is especially true for marginalized students from economically-poor families for whom this education is a positive lifeline for breaking the cycle of poverty. In order to ensure equitable education for all and improve educational opportunity in typically underserved communities, strengthening and sustaining excellent private schools is a key component in three-sector reform that also includes transforming traditional public schools and growing quality charter schools. Driven by Dr. King’s message, our school communities understand, embrace and promote our contribution to this educational movement.
- Private independent schools need to remain accessible to economically-poor families and marginalized students. Our message in private school circles is as important as our role in the broader education reform movement. A quality private school education, especially when founded on faith traditions of respecting the dignity of the human person, serving the common good and community, option for the poor and economic justice, can not become an option that is available only to families with means. More so, in addition to being financially affordable, private school education, such as that delivered through the NativityMiguel schools and the many private independent high schools that enroll our students, should be culturally accessible, that is designed and tailored to the needs of the students and families it serves.
There are over 3,000 students and close to 6,000 graduates who know the value of a NativityMiguel education that builds upon Dr. King’s legacy, message and movement. More importantly, there are individual stories of perseverance and triumph that truly signal the power of our education to anchor a family’s hope. The New York Times featured one such story last week from St. Ignatius School in the Bronx, and I share it here as we honor Dr. King’s lasting legacy this week.