The idea of community/school partnerships to support students in Boston is not new. In the early 1980s, major corporations and universities committed themselves to helping strengthen a school system traumatized by court-ordered desegregation and plagued by poor academic performance, patronage, weak governance, and frequent battles between the mayor and the elected school committee. Over the years, systemic changes, such as an appointed school committee and teacher evaluation, helped to stabilize the schools. Cultural institutions and human service providers were encouraged to become more involved in the schools.
Across the country, churches also began to play a more direct role in education. In 1999, the US Department of Education’s Partnership for Family Involvement in Education published a booklet called How Faith Communities Support Children’s Learning in Public Schools. In 2012, Joshua DuBois, former special assistant to the President and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said, “Every child deserves an education that will enable them to succeed in a global economy. Faith and community groups are critical partners in this all-hands on deck moment.”
Recognizing that churches and other faith institutions are committed to helping children reach their full potential and have a long history of partnering with schools, the Boston Public Schools, under the direction of former Superintendent, Dr. Carol Johnson, created a community liaison position in 2010 to foster more school and faith-based partnerships in the BPS. She said, “Our students and families are depending on all of us – schools, businesses, colleges/universities, secular non-profit and community based organizations, and your faith-based institutions – to work together for their success.”
This website is intended to help share the stories and models of church-school partnerships in Boston, as well as to help churches understand and respond to the unique opportunity for additional church-school partnerships in the Boston Public Schools today. Potentially, church-school partnerships could extend beyond the city of Boston and into other school districts. We hope this website will help inspire, inform, connect and equip the Church broadly for more sustainable and mutually effective long-term partnership with public schools in the greater Boston area.