Last week I made two statements, namely that I thought the church could close the achievement gap and that I thought it should. Those statement sparked quite a bit of discussion for a blog this size, and I'm grateful for all of the thoughts, anonymous and otherwise. I want to continue in this thread today and probably about once a week or so.
Today I want to focus on one area that the church can help with the issues of education, that is: Building Basics in Education. My brother suggested that it isn't the church's responsibility to teach subjects like psychology, social studies, etc. I agree with those sentiments. However, the church can definitely take it upon its shoulders to provide a series of basics for children in the inner cities and other low-income areas of the country. Many churches in the USA provide tutoring services. These could become the model for other churches to emulate. I will showcase some of these in the future.
I am convinced that any child who can read can be a self-learner. Therefore, I believe that any child who can read can add his or her score as the achievement gap closes. If churches would join together to provide some of these classes to build basics of reading and math in the lives of our low-income students, I believe our schools would be better off, our communities would be better off, and most importantly, our students would have better opportunities to succeed.
Low income public schools fail because they lack resources to teach kids well (including good teachers sometimes), and the social environment in wich the kid grows up is not conducive to learning. When I child has to worry about feeding his/her family and staying alive, learning to read is a pretty low priority.
How will churches work to overcome the deeply rooted problems of low-income cultures any better than public schools?
First of all, stop thinking that this is an either/or proposition. Public schools fail because they cannot work on the culture in a community. That's actually next week's post. We both know that churches can do an immense amount of good regarding the influence of a community. I have no doubt that this can be the church's biggest contribution to public education.
So hang on until my next post about that. Focus right now on after school programs that work with kids to lay a foundation for learning (via reading help, tutoring, etc).
Okay, let's focus on after school programs. I hate to sound like a downer, but think as realistically as possible.
Poor kid has to work two jobs along with his single mom to feed the family of four. He's the oldest, and by the time he's a junior, he can read maybe at a 5th grade level (why he passed all those grades is a whole different issue I'd like to talk about someday). Is this kid going to be able to spend the time in an after school program to learn the basics he should have been taught in elementary school?
Just an example, but nonetheless, an issue. I can only speak from the HS perspective mostly, as you know that's what I teach.
And yes, I'm still waiting (patiently) for your grand explanation on how the church is going to solve all the problems where public schools have failed. The kid still has to go through a school, yes? I want you to quit ignoring that the school exists and that it is still a requirement unless you plan to completely reform the entire system.
I think tutoring is a good idea. I am glad that churches do it.
Broader questions might need to be addressed, such as how we could decide what is most important and what age of the children we are talking about.
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