A Pastor's Role in Closing the Achievement Gap

I've written a couple of mostly philosophical posts lately about the state of education. I want to now suggest some practical ideas for churches over the next few weeks. Of the two things I want to present (the second one in a few days), the first I mention will be largely free. The second will add costs to the program, depending on where the church takes it.

First of all, pastors and church leaders can take a very direct part in changing the culture of a community. It is widely believed that part of the effect of a student's economic status affecting his or her grades in school is that his/her folks do not foster a supportive educational home life. I don't blame them, at least not directly. If my parents were desperately trying to afford to put food on the table and clothes on my body, then I would understand their focus on having a job and a paycheck over me getting educated. This would especially be true in families where my income as a student might be vital to help cover expenses.

Yet if parents don't understand that they hold the key to their children advancing in the world further than they did, then this cycle will continue with minimal improvement. Therefore, pastors could, especially in low-income communities, be tackling the problem head on. I will never tell a preacher what to speak on for that is not my place. Perhaps it does warrant a sermon. I can definitely see where that would be beneficial. Yet perhaps it could be through announcements, education classes for parents, anything else to generally change the unfortunate culture that pervades some areas of our country. For those pastors who have the options for social media, they can use that as well. Education needs to be a priority.

And it only makes sense. I will show evidence from a study in another post, but the fact is, helping students learn to read (and adults for that matter) create a smarter, more active church body. Reading is the key to learning, so if a church can break through the culture of not prioritizing learning, then it can help further the Kingdom.

Churches have helped change the American landscape in many ways for many good causes. And many of them affected people outside of the church, like civil rights, for example. This is something that the church could do. It could work. It might not affect families outside the church immediately, but it would be a start. And best of all...you can start today!

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