The old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” remains true today. Some would disagree and say it is the sole responsibility of the family to raise a child. That may be true, if the family unit were intact for all of America’s children. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Every child is situated within a home, a school, a community, and the world at large — and each plays a significant role in the success of a child. Children living in poverty will most likely face significant barriers that will need to be addressed before effective teaching and learning can take place. Many students in urban communities come to school with unmet, nonacademic needs.
Some barriers to education are as simple as the lack of basic needs, others are as complex as lack of access to mental health counseling. Identifying the student’s needs and providing intervention programs for students and families is important to a child’s success in the classroom. However, schools can’t do it alone.
It takes a concerted effort by all stakeholders to ensure students achieve in school. It is going to take parents, teachers, school leadership, community members, and churches (especially those in urban communities) to help meet some of the nonacademic needs of the children so that effective teaching and learning can take place. This is why forging partnerships with churches is so vital.
Many churches and pastors do a lot of good in the community they serve and they are to be commended. But clearly more needs to be done. There is still a great need for churches of all denominations to provide help to children and their families, help which would result in better academic performance. A quality education is every child’s civil right. This is why high-stakes testing, accountability and education reform are here to stay.
While there is certainly a place and a need for accountability and expanding educational options for all children, there are critical components missing in most conversations around education reform: families and communities. Education for All has launched a new initiative called Mission: Education. The organization is asking pastors and churches to help with meeting some of the students’ non-academic needs where they can.
The church has always been the cornerstone of a community. Mission: Education will primarily focus on the churches in the community, and through them, engage more families. Pastors will lead the charge and send outreach advocates two-by-two into the community to reach out to families and their children. The overarching goal is to link churches with families in order to meet students’ needs, so that effective teaching and learning can occur. In this way, we have come together as one village to better the lives of all children.
For more information on this topic, please send your inquiry to email@example.com or visit www.missioneducation.org . Mission Education is a division of Education for All, which is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and it is not affiliated with a political party.
Dr. Deborah Owens holds a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University. She and her husband, Rev. William Owens, Sr., have launched a new initiative, Mission: Education, working with community, ministry, education and political leaders to focus attention on the needs of urban students and their families.