Race and school choice to be discussed in Houghton University Kingdom Conversations series conclusion

by Jiana Martin
Allegany Hope Information Ambassador

The intersection of race and school choice policy will be examined Thursday night by the president of Houghton University as he introduces to students and the general public a prior book he wrote on the subject.

Wayne D. Lewis, Jr., along with Professor Peter Meilaender, will conclude a free, three-part Kingdom Conversations series from 7PM to 8PM, November 16, in the Paine Center for Science Room 214, Schaller Hall, 1 Willard Avenue.

The monthly discussions, examining the classic debate between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois about education, have explored ideas from the two historical figures and their “proposals for addressing the then termed, Negro Problem, in the post-Civil War American context.”

A chapter from Lewis’ 2013 book, The Politics of Parent Choice in Public Education, examines school choice policies, including charter schools, school vouchers, and tuition tax credit scholarships.

The University president used the work of DuBois to open the book’s chapter which will help frame the subject of Thursday night’s discussion with Meilander, Houghton’s dean of religion, humanities and global studies and professor of political science.

Lewis said he is excited to be able to share his work with students and looks forward to their feedback, along with that of members of the public who attend.

The Washington-DuBois debates “are important conversations,” according to Lewis. “They are rooted in history, but their arguments and the challenges they are attempting to address at the turn of the 20th century continue to have incredible significance for the 21st century challenges related to race and education.”

The University discussion series introduces a new Student Kingdom Ambassadors initiative which is dedicated to “fostering honest conversations about diversity and equality, motivated by love and respect for all members of the Houghton community and aiming at a greater appreciation of God’s kingdom in all its plurality and richness.”

Ambassadors have been appointed from all four class years of study at the University to promote conversations about diversity and pluralism both inside and outside the classroom.

The president reported earlier that the educational institution enrolled its largest freshman class in six years, with 272 new students in August being from 14 countries, 31 states and 32 Christian denominations “making Houghton University a truly global community.”

Readings associated with the three-session discussions are available at https://bit.ly/45b6JeY.

Ongoing activities are being planned to continue the initiative.