Back to school, for all of us

I was surprised at a recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation stating that one out of three students scored “below basic” on a National Assessment of Education Reading Test.  Sixty-seven percent of all fourth graders in the United States scored “below proficient” which means they are not reading at a fourth grade level.  The United States placed 25th out of 30 countries in math performance and 21st in science.  Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  So how can we invest?

I was visiting a church recently that has started a partnership with a school in their neighborhood.  The students at the school are largely low-income children with English as their second language.  The members of the church volunteer for an after-school program to do some tutoring, but mostly just to be a surrogate parent or friend.  The counselors at the school have told them that what the kids need the most is simply to know that someone is cheering them on.  

The Statistic Brain website reports that 8,300 students drop out of high school every day in our country, for a total of 3,030,000 high school students each year.  Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  A lot of us write checks or contribute to the needs of the people around us.  What would happen if each of us contributed two hours each week to the success of a student?  Is there a child who needs your help to learn to read, do math or maybe develop a deep desire to learn?  What if you attend the high school graduation of a young person who is wearing a cap and gown someday because you invested in his or her life?

I loved the movie, “The Blind Side.”  I know that it was fictionalized for the sake of Hollywood just a bit, but it was based on a true story.  Michael Oher is a professional football player today largely because the Tuohy family thought they should help a student that needed them.  If you see that movie, you will understand the purpose of this blog post.

All of us should be involved with sending kids to school, even beyond our yearly taxes.  Helping a child succeed at school is giving a child a chance to succeed in life and our country a chance to stay a great nation that values its future.  

It is time for kids to return to school.  Drive slowly in the school zones on your way to work.  Donate school supplies to kids who need some help.  Pray for an opportunity to invest in the life of a child and help them succeed in their studies.  Pray for teachers to see their classroom as a mission field and not just a paycheck.  Pray for the students as they walk past your door to catch a bus, or ride a bicycle down the street.  You don’t have to know their names, God does.

Our kids need to know how to read, do math, and be creative, hardworking people.  Most of us were blessed to have a great education.  Jesus was speaking when he said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).  He also said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).  

Wouldn’t it be nice to arrive in heaven and hear Jesus say, “Thank you, good and faithful servant”.  Pray that God will open the doors of service so that you can be a channel of his blessings in the life of a child.

C.S. Lewis said, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”  The task of the modern evangelical is the same task of the ancient one – we are to share the living water with those who are thirsty.  Our task is to educate and evangelize.  Pray for a chance to do both as our children return back to school.

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