Do you remember when the leaders of the church you attended as a child knew everything going on at the schools?
How about when your local principal sat a few rows away from your family at church?
This was our village: we shopped together, worshiped together, and were educated together.
When you combine community and education, you have a plan for success. This combination needs to include families, educational leaders, community organizations/business, and faith-based leaders.
Why do we need to include faith-based leaders, some may ask? Because they are the ones who used to lead the charge for change. While Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were seen across the nation on a large scale, local church leaders were in the fight as well.
They met with school leaders and they gathered people from all walks of life to organize for change. This is what we need again.
We need faith-based leaders to join this fight for quality education. They see the needs of families daily. They know how it is for church members whose children are treated unfairly in schools and they know how education has changed.
I recall my daughter in 4th grade confiding in our pastor that a teacher calls the children in her class “Eastside Ghetto BaeBaes! Seriously! Yes, at a young age she knew whom she could trust. My Pastor walked up to me and explained to me that I needed to have a meeting with the principal. He offered to accompany us if need be. Needless to say, he was furious that his member, no matter how young she was, had been affected in such a negative way at school.
There are still members of the faith-based community who fight for quality education like Pastor Larry Simmons. He not only fights for quality but makes it a point to be at the every decision-making table about community and education.
He sat at the head of the table last school year as we listened to Natasha Baker explain the state of Michigan’s plan to close 36 schools. Our group of 30-plus community members decided to let him be our voice for the day. A quiet storm, he sat listening to Mrs. Baker give no definitive answers on how the state would determine if and when these schools closed.
Once Pastor Simmons spoke, Mrs. Baker and her team began to crumble and true colors were exposed. The reality was that there was no plan. Parents were being left out of the equation and Pastor Simmons was there to secure a seat at the table for all voices to be heard.
Faith-based leaders, you are needed! Not just in the DPSCD but in every area of change in our city. We need your leadership, your strength, and your words of wisdom to guide our schools towards quality education spaces for all our children in and around Detroit.
The invite is out, will you be there?