Religion Next Step in School Reform; Faith Community Boosts Student Achievement

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 14, 2010 | Go to article overview

Religion Next Step in School Reform; Faith Community Boosts Student Achievement


Byline: Anna Dorminey, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Of all the issues being debated in preparation for the District of Columbia's mayoral primary today, education undoubtedly was the most controversial. Teachers are being evaluated for efficiency, trends in test scores are being examined, and D.C. Public Schools is offering bonuses at the slightest signs of improvement. But what if the best remedy for Washington's failed schools were as simple, if politically incorrect, as encouraging religion?

The District's schools consistently receive abysmally low rankings despite spending an astonishing $28,170 per pupil per year, according to the Cato Institute's Adam B. Schaeffer. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and the Washington Teachers Union have offered various solutions to D.C. schools' dismal situation, from more professional development for teachers to altered conditions for tenure.

The problem that remains is a rather sticky one because it cannot be addressed in the teachers' contract or school budget. How much can even superior teachers and schools accomplish when a student's home environment does not contribute to - and perhaps damages - his ability to learn? How can a student learn reading, writing and arithmetic if he has not first been taught focus, obedience or the importance of education or, more important, been nurtured in a stable environment? The solution lies with the church and the family.

Religious participation correlates directly to improved academic performance. According to a 2008 article in the Sociological Quarterly titled Religious Involvement and Educational Outcomes: The Role of Social Capital and Extracurricular Participation, by Jennifer Glanville, David Sikkink and Edwin Hernandez, students regularly involved in religious activities have grade-point averages 14.4 percent higher than those who aren't. And in his 1988 article in the American Journal of Sociology titled Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital, James S. …

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