Posts Tagged schools

Blaming Our Schools Doesn’t Solve Problems – Ethicsdaily.com

Blaming Our Schools Doesn’t Solve Problems
By: Mitch Carnell Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 6:02 am Section: EthicsDaily.com’s Latest Articles
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Blaming Our Schools Doesn't Solve Problems | Mitch Carnell, Church, Public School, Community Engagement, Education Rather than constantly berating teachers, churches can provide programs to recognize and reward outstanding teachers, Carnell observes.

I am a product of small-town public schools. As the battles rage over what is wrong with our schools and what makes for a good teacher, I think much can be learned from studying my hometown.Woodruff, S.C., is a small, cotton mill town in the Piedmont region. In my youth, the great majority of people worked in one of the two textile mills and lived in company-owned houses. Many of these workers were refugees from small dirt farms.

Many had never graduated high school; however, they shared one unifying goal. They were determined that their children would live better lives and knew that education was the only solution.

They supported the schools. They turned out for school events although they had worked long hours in the mills, on the surrounding farms or both. They knew the teachers personally. The school was a source of pride.

There is another important ingredient. The church was involved in lifting the level of its children.

My church, Northside Baptist, worked to push its young people forward. Most of all, the congregation encouraged us.

The congregation also supported its pastors in getting more education in summer programs at the seminaries. It valued education.

We had interim pastors from the religion department at Furman University. We held joint services with the Methodist church down the street. If it had a prominent speaker in town, we went to worship with them.

Once when I spoke at our church as a teenager, that Methodist pastor invited me to speak there.

These people were poor in material goods, but they were rich in what matters. They were invested in the lives of their children.

On report card day, as I walked by the parsonage, my pastor, the Rev. Roy Gowan, wanted to see my report card. He was an encourager. I am sure he repeated this over and over again as other children passed by his house.

The old Baptist Training Union gave many of us a great start. We had to read or say our assigned parts. This was the beginning of my public speaking career. Christmas pageants and youth nights at Christmas followed. The adults showed up for these programs.

My high school speech teacher was also the superintendent of schools. “Teaching this class keeps me close to the students,” he said. “I know what they are thinking.”

He also taught a large men’s Bible class at First Baptist Church and invited me to be a guest teacher. These men were very supportive even though they were from a higher socioeconomic status.

I know that times have changed. The church cannot be as involved with the schools as it once was; however, this reality provides a great copout. There is nothing that says that churches cannot provide mentoring programs.

Churches can still provide training programs for their young people. They can provide opportunities for them to practice their skills. Rather than suppress discussion of controversial topics, the church can arrange civil discussions.

The church can provide scholarships to students and teachers. Rather than constantly berating teachers, churches can provide programs to recognize and reward outstanding teachers.

In the ongoing and worsening struggle over bullying, the church should be leading the crusade to curb it. Where are the programs on Christian behavior? Where are the programs on Christians’ responsibilities as citizens?

Where are the counseling programs for troubled youth? Where are the speaking contests, music recitals and essay contests? Where are the Christian parenting courses?

These are tough times economically, but in many churches or in the community there are well-trained volunteers who could and would conduct these programs and many others.

If nothing more, the church could get out of the criticism business and get into the supporting business. Negative sermons are easy to preach and require no preparation.

Ministers can lead the way by demonstrating the power of thorough preparation. Not by littering their sermons with endless quotations, but by demonstrating their mastery of the subject.

Many churches are simply asking the wrong question: What is wrong with our schools, our youth and our teachers?

The right question to address is this: What can we do to improve the lives of our young people?

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SBC’s Anti-Public School Crusade Is Off Course

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Posted: Monday, May 24, 2010 8:15 pm

SBC's Anti-Public School Crusade is Off Course | Mitch Carnell, Public Education, Schools, SBC

I am dismayed to learn that the Southern Baptist Convention is criticizing public schools as bastions of anti-Christian attitudes and urging churches to foster private schools or home schooling, Carnell writes.

I grew up in a small cotton mill village in upper South Carolina during the last years of the Great Depression. Churches and schools were the town’s foundation. I was fortunate to have teachers who were not only skilled and caring academics, but who lived Christian lives before us. I never had any reason to believe that my teachers did not care about me as an individual; in fact, I have great evidence that they did. My parents and all the parents that I knew held public school teachers in the highest regard. 

When I left the hallowed halls of two Christian colleges and made my way to the University of Alabama and then to Louisiana State University, both public institutions, I found dedicated Christian men and women. I was astounded because I had been warned to look out for the sinful state universities. I have never known stronger and more radiant Christians. 

Many years later, I married a public school teacher. She toiled in the public schools of South Carolina for 28 years. Day and night, she was concerned for her students. The only night she took a respite from her school work was for Wednesday night choir rehearsal at our church. She even persuaded me to volunteer at the impoverished inner-city school where she taught. 

Now I am dismayed to learn that the Southern Baptist Convention is criticizing public schools as bastions of anti-Christian attitudes and urging churches to foster private schools or home schooling. Most churches can hardly meet their current expenditures, much less operate a quality school. Both local and foreign mission programs are suffering from lack of funding. Is it ethical or even Christian for a church to operate a school that offers less than a quality education? Is it Christian to rob mission programs to duplicate services that are already available in the public schools? Is the cause of Christ served by a so-so educational program even if it is labeled Christian? 

Would the Southern Baptist Convention and its many constituents not be better served by investing time, money and energy to strengthening local congregations, equipping ministers and other staff members in new and innovative ways of implementing the Great Commission? 

Will the convention profit by denigrating the vast number of public school teachers and administrators who make up its membership? Why would any group want to alienate this great army of supporters? The laborers are few and dwindling. What we need are women and men who live out their Christianity day in and day out. Of course, they cannot promote religious causes in their classrooms. Who would want them to do so?

 What they can and do on a regular basis is live exemplary lives before their students. During their careers, teachers influence thousands of students directly and thousands more indirectly. Where else can you obtain that kind of result? It is past time for the SBC to reverse its course. Offer scholarships to potential and current public school teachers, develop academic mentoring programs for all students who need them, and promote public school bond issues.

I am grateful to my public school teachers and to those of my children and grandchildren. I am also grateful to all of those public school teachers who worked tirelessly with me during my work with the PTA. 

I am in no way opposed to excellent private schools. I am opposed to those that short-change students under the guise of being Christian. I am heartbroken that the Southern Baptist Convention, which is faced with many real problems, has chosen to paint with a broad brush dedicated men and women who are devoutly Christian simply because of their career paths. 

The leaders have fallen prey to false prophets. 

Mitch Carnell is a consultant in organizational and interpersonal communication. He is the editor of “Christian Civility in an Uncivil World” and an active member of First Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C.

 

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