Dear Inner City Pastor

Dear Inner City Pastor,

You probably know better than anyone the education challenges the families in your congregation and surrounding neighborhoods face.

 

You know the conditions in the schools, the failure and danger that’s accepted by the powers that be as if the children of your neighborhood deserve no better.

 

Maybe you’re one of many who has gone to bat for the children and gotten involved in the schools to try to force change. For the sake of the children, I hope you’ve had some success.

 

But by now, you probably also know that most changes will be superficial, designed more to pacify than to give children a real chance at education in a nurturing and safe environment.

 

You know, too, the dysfunction of many of your families, but you also know their strengths – that they care about their children and given the opportunity and resources will go the extra mile for them, often with a fierceness and dedication found lacking in parents better situated to help their children.

 

I’m writing this open letter to you because I believe there are things you can do to help, things that maybe only you can do to help. Certainly, you are in a unique position to make a very real difference.

 

The ideal ultimate goal would be to get as many children as possible completely out of public schools and to create independent options for them. But that may be too big a step to take at once. Still, there are many smaller steps that can be taken that will lead up to real freedom.

 

Surely there are teachers, retired teachers and many educated individuals within your congregation who could devote part of their time to a ministry of rescuing children from state schools. There are probably people from other churches who would also feel privileged and fulfilled to become part of such a ministry.

 

You could set up a tutoring center in your church, and people could teach in their homes. You could match up children with mentors and set up apprenticeships. Able individuals could operate workshops to teach crash courses to teens. Not everything has to be done the way schools do it. There’s a lot that can be learned in a much shorter length of time.

 

Wherever possible, maybe a retired teacher or other individual could spend time in homes helping parents master the art of teaching their own children, or they could conduct workshops for the same purpose. Maybe a mentor could guide a group of teens in educating themselves – meet at a public library or some other place.

 

Imagine the message that would be sent to children when they see the adults in their lives taking control, not settling for what the establishment has decided to dish out to them. Imagine the difference it would make in families, as well as in the lives of the individual children.

 

Even the smallest step in the right direction could begin a cascade of hope and possibility.

 

The existing structure is not really interested in change, nor is it particularly interested in children, beyond the dollars they represent. Helping the system that now controls children’s education is a lot like a sick relationship in which one person despises the other and the despised one endlessly tries to get the hater to love him or her.

 

I urge you who are the most influential in your communities to use your leadership role to empower the families that have placed themselves under your guidance.

 

The honest truth is that if you won’t do it, there may not be a whole lot of hope for those who look up to you.

 

If you will do it, the future holds an incredible amount of possibility for everyone.

 

Yours truly,

 

Tammy Drennan

 

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4 Responses to Dear Inner City Pastor

  1. wintertime says:

    I doubt that many ministers will respond to your call for help.

    Why?

    Answer: There are too many teachers and others who benefit from government schools who are putting money in the collection plate. Few ministers will dare to bite the hand that feeds them. In my county the government schools is the largest single employer. Even my dentist relies on school employee dental insurance for his living!

    Solution:

    Help must come from the grass roots. Conservatives ( Christian and non-Christian) must organize a grass root effort to establish private voucher foundations. These foundations could issue private vouchers to children attending **conservative** private schools. They could issue grants to **conservative** teachers willing to open dame schools, mini-schools, homeschool cooperatives, and one room school houses. The foundations could certify the curriculum and teachers, and test the students.

    The brick and mortar, Prussian style school should be abandoned! It is expensive. Also, it is cruel and inefficient to treat children like factory widgets.

    Can this be done? You bet!

    Harvard has a 35 BILLION dollar endowment. Universities and colleges throughout the nation have endowments in the BILLIONS. Surely, conservatives ( Christian and non-Christian) could do the same for conservative education if they wanted.

  2. tdbwd says:

    Dear Wintertime,

    You have a good point. Maybe not many will listen, but maybe a few will. Your suggestion holds tremendous potential but maybe a similar obstacle, too — too many philanthropists want to keep trying to reform public schools with the money that’s already going to them (tax dollars). They want change, but they don’t want to fund what they feel is already funded. We’ll have to get over that hump.

    Also, some of the scholarship projects that have already been tried have not worked out too well, but you suggest extra controls, like having scholarship foundations approve curriculum and do testing. That would provide the accountability to keep those programs on track.

    What it wouldn’t do is allow for extreme innovation, which is part of any real solution. Accountability is important, but it also stifles creativity and change, so that’s a problem to overcome.

    We have a big job before us, but it’s one with many, many solutions, and I think that if each of us applies him/herself to a solution that appeals to us, we’ll make some headway. Thanks so much for writing and keeping us all on our toes.

    Tammy Drennan

  3. wintertime says:

    Tammy,

    Government schools remind me of a decapitated chicken. It is still running around flapping its wings, but absolutely dead. You are correct. Too many ( philanthropists, ministers, PTA members, and legislators) are still chasing the flapping government school chicken hoping a few sutures will reattach its head.

    But….I have hope! I suggest that you read today’s World Net Daily. They have a very encouraging article about the number of parents who would chose to leave the government schools if given the opportunity.

    “Polls show parents want education alternatives
    Latest survey indicates 12% of voters satisfied with government’s offering”

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=67222

    Previous private voucher charities ( for example Sam Walton’s vouchers) have made four mistakes:

    1) They spread their money over too many cities and states. They would have had far more impact if they had concentrated their efforts within one small city and possibly even only certain neighborhoods.

    2) They did not keep careful enough track of how well the students accepted by lottery for vouchers compared to those student who applied but were not chosen.

    3) They did not have a unified educational philosophy and curriculum. They did not certify the schools, the curriculum, the teachers, or apply uniform testing for all the students.

    4) They funded traditional Prussian-model schools. This is a very expensive way to deliver education and that alone limits the number of children who can participate. Dame schools, one room school houses, micro schools, homeschool cooperatives, and tutoring centers are far less expensive and can be more flexible in meeting a child’s needs.

    Personally, I think Bruce Shortt and Ray Moore of the Exodus Mandate should reach beyond their appeals to the Baptist Church and their ministers. ( for reasons previously stated) They should be going directly to the people and look for leadership there.

    Parents want out. We are wealthy enough as a nation. We do have the excellent curriculum developed for homeschoolers. If the Friedman Foundation is correct about parents wanting a way out of the government schools, it seems that the only ingredient missing is leadership.

  4. tdbwd says:

    Dear Wintertime,

    Hear, hear. I fully agree with you (and have been working on a project that incorporates many of your ideas).

    I also feel hopeful about the future, especially if we can keep the issue front and center with enough people.

    Tammy

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