Peter Groff, the Director of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for the Department of Education, will be headlining a Teachers College conference on the role of faith congregations in education.   This afternoon, I’ll be outlining these 10 specific ways that congregations can make a difference:

1.  Youth/Family Services: Communities in Schools and interfaith groups like Unified Vailsburg Services Organization are great templates for building a web of support around students.

2. Mentor/Tutor: a church can help organize volunteers to provide tutoring and mentoring for schools during the school day.

3. After school/Summer school: congregations can extend learning by providing faith-based learning during non-school hours/days.

4. Private School: Some faith traditions have a strong tradition of providing high quality private/parochial education, e.g, Catholic SchoolsChristian Schools International, Lutheran Schools.

5. Voucher School: In European countries, faith congregations can run publicly funded faith-based schools.  In a couple US communities, vouchers or private scholarships allow low income students to attend private schools.

6. Alternative Schools: Street School Network members, mostly churches, provide free alternative education to struggling teens.

7. Affordable Private School: Cristo Rey is a network of 24 affordable Catholic schools supported by work-study sponsors.  With improvements in online learning, there is the opportunity to run high quality low cost faith-based private schools that blend the best of online and onsite learning.

8: Charter School: When parochial schools are no longer viable, congregations have converted faith-based schools to public charter schools.  While they can’t provide religious instruction during the day, congregations can still provide services 1-3 above.  Faith leaders can also provide leadership for development of new public charter schools in underserved neighborhoods.

9. Community Development: John Perkins spent the last 20 years championing Christian Community Development–congregations banding together to serve under-resourced neighborhoods.

10. Pray: faith congregations can join together to support kids and teachers with in prayer breakfasts, prayer days, and back-to-school prayer rallies.

Marcus Hall of Education Equality Project did an amazing job pulling this important conference together.

1 COMMENT

  1. Maybe, considering the raping of young children by priests, we should do all we can to keep church and state separate.

    I can tell you that I sure as hell don’t want religion impinging on my son!

    This is a really stupid idea.

    Do you even care about humanity?

    • Faith congregations play a vital role in under-resourced communities–often places where public delivery systems have failed for decades.
      The board that hired me as a public school superintendent included a Lutheran pastor that was an extraordinary community leader. Another pastor led a tutoring program and a leadership development program. They defended and supported public education and made our young community a better place to live and learn.
      Private and parochial education also have a wonderful tradition in this country. Catholic schools, in particular, have served urban students well for generations. I’m glad there are folks like Cristo Rey inventing sustainability strategies to maintain faith-based educational options.

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