What Johnson’s group does
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.