What John­son’s group does

The Dallas Morning News - - World -

Pas­tors for Texas Chil­dren, founded and run by Fort Worth min­is­ter Char­lie John­son, says it has about 2,000 mem­bers. Its strat­egy is “to plant clergy and church sup­port for pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion” and blunt a drive to pri­va­tize K-12 learn­ing in Texas, he said. While it fights voucher bills and seeks big­ger ed­u­ca­tion bud­gets at the Leg­is­la­ture, the group is urg­ing faith com­mu­ni­ties such as churches to adopt pub­lic schools.

The con­gre­ga­tions part­ner with school cam­puses, John­son said, and are pro­vid­ing one or more of the fol­low­ing:

■ Back­pack pro­grams. Parish­ioners sup­ply food-filled back­packs so poor stu­dents “have some­thing to eat on week­ends,” he said.

■ School sup­plies and cloth­ing. Too of­ten, teach­ers dip into their own wal­lets to pro­vide th­ese items, he said.

■ Fa­cil­i­ties main­te­nance. Es­pe­cially in ru­ral districts, this is in­creas­ingly a prob­lem be­cause of tight bud­gets, John­son said.

■ Tu­tor­ing, men­tor­ing and af­ter-school pro­grams. An ini­tial ef­fort in the Dal­las In­de­pen­dent School District is show­ing that church-as­sisted, high-needs schools are show­ing “mod­est gains” in at­ten­dance and teacher re­ten­tion, he said.

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