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Richmond County school Superintendent asks church leaders to help school system reach pupils

Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 7:20 PM
Last updated Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 2:44 AM
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Before Richmond County school Superintendent Frank Roberson addressed his congregation Friday morning, he acknowledged the obvious question hanging over the room.

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Invitees listen to Richmond County school Superintendent Frank Roberson.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Invitees listen to Richmond County school Superintendent Frank Roberson.

Yes, he is asking church leaders to join with the school system to raise the achievement of young, black males. Yes, he invited pastors and deacons to sit beside teachers and principals in his board room Friday to talk strategy.

But the intention is not to ignore the separation of church and state, he said. It is to encourage churches to provide the spiritual piece for students, to shake up the dead-beat dads and inspire apathetic families the way schools cannot – because they have an access point the schools do not.

“That is the purpose of the church and the schools to do stuff together on purpose to help our children become productive young people and grow into results-orientated adults,” Roberson said. “We owe them that.”

Roberson and his cabinet members invited church leaders, educators and parents to the central office Friday to talk about ways churches can help raise achievement of black males, a segment that performs disproportionately worse on academic standards. Mirroring national trends, black students in Richmond County perform behind their peers in most subjects and grade levels on standardized tests.

With church being an integral part of the African-American family, Roberson suggested ways they can fill a void in the school life. He encouraged pastors to develop student recognition programs, where churches award certificates for students who show the greatest improvement or greatest achievement.

He asked church leaders to visit students from their congregations during the school day and recognize their families for positive efforts.

Byron and Sandra Robinson, youth pastors at Faith Outreach Christian Life Center in Hephzibah, said their parish has computers students can use to complete class work, and church leaders speak regularly with the teachers and principals in their congregation.

But the recognition piece is something they plan to develop to get rid of apathetic attitudes.

“We want to eliminate the excuses,” he said. “Even in poverty you can check on your kids’ school work. ... A lot of the kids, they come to church and they have an opportunity where we can speak freely with them, and that’s the missing link.”

Cheryl Jones, the assistant superintendent of elementary education, showed the roughly 35 church leaders how to use the district’s online portal that allows parents to monitor their child’s grades, schedule and attendance.

“This will prevent those surprises when progress reports go home or when report cards go home, and by the time you get to April and May you know what you can expect your child to do,” she said.

The group also heard about resources at the Performance Learning Center, which provides alternative education for students who can’t attend traditional school because of a pregnancy, a need to work or other special circumstances.

Darlene Price, the director of the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library, talked about study tools families can use online or at the library for free.

Kam Kyzer, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the CSRA, stressed how community outreach can be the difference between an employed, high school graduate and a drop-out in the prison system.

“No computer and no curriculum out of a box will make a difference in a child’s life like a caring adult will,” Kyzer said.

While going over test scores with the group, Roberson urged church leaders to sign up for school-based improvement teams that will provide academic help and encouragement. Just as pastors push church members to spread the Word after they leave their pews, Roberson asked the church leaders to take these strategies and put them to work in the schools.

“It’s good to preach Jesus on Sunday morning when you have a captive audience,” he said. “But we also have to go into the communities and the neighborhoods and help those unproductive places be productive. ... We’re not going to have it said they came, they met and nothing happened. We’re going to put legs and feet to what we’re doing today.”

Comments (20) Add comment
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willie7
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willie7 10/04/13 - 08:00 pm
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Could be a great project
Unpublished

Could be a great project !!!

triscuit
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triscuit 10/04/13 - 09:18 pm
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In other words..."we give

In other words..."we give up."

mosovich
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mosovich 10/04/13 - 09:58 pm
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I'm impressed..

This took a tremendous amount of risk for him to do, but I say WAY TO GO!! Call a spade a spade and say "hey, we need help".. People are so scared to speak the truth.. Dr. Roberson has finally done so and I hope some left wing nut job doesn't try to sue the school system because he's asking the churches for help.. They NEED this help desperately and I hope this does help.. I so hope and pray this helps..

KSL
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KSL 10/05/13 - 01:42 am
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What took so long?

What took so long?

Young Fred
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Young Fred 10/05/13 - 02:30 am
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No, Triscuit - it's not about

No, Triscuit - it's not about "giving up", it's about using all available resources in order to achieve a goal. That goal being to help the individual and the community!

What could you possibly have against that? The fact that it's not sanctioned by the "state"? Do you have that much faith in the state? Even after their track record?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/05/13 - 04:43 am
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This IS Progress

Dr. Robertson is working in unique ways to address this emergency we have of black kids underperforming in the public schools. I admire his leadership and sense of urgency. A positive view of those students who do well should be fostered within the community. It’s not a hopeless case by any means. Even the worst elements in neighborhoods have a sort of respect for those black kids who work hard in their schools and stay out of trouble. When other kids are harassed by gangs, kids known to stay out of trouble and work hard in school are given a pass by even the meanest gangs. The good kid walks by and they give him a grudging respect knowing he doesn’t “play.”

Getting the church and community involved to this degree really makes me feel positive about the whole thing. When you can bring that large of a crowd of black leaders together who are concerned about the education of the children THAT IS PROGRESS.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/05/13 - 04:49 am
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Different Than Past Superintendents

I have to note the contrast in styles of Dr. Robertson with previous superintendents, Charles Larke and Dana Bedden. The previous superintendents kept a distance from the community where Robertson tries to include them. Impressive.

Truth Matters
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Truth Matters 10/05/13 - 06:21 am
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In other words..."we give

In other words..."we give up."

Please go to the "Time Out" chair and think about your comment.

Truth Matters
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Truth Matters 10/05/13 - 06:26 am
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I know so many churches that

I know so many churches that do many of the things suggested here. I hope that with Dr. Roberson stressing their importance that they will be motivated to stay the course and share their success stories with others and maybe partner with some smaller congregations. No one church can do everything but everyone can do something.

Cudos! To the RCBOE for this outreach.

chascushman
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chascushman 10/05/13 - 07:54 am
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It is past time for black
Unpublished

It is past time for black leaders to face what the Great Society, liberals, democrats and many black leaders have done to black families. Until they face it things are not going to get better. Thank God for people like Mr. Roberson.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 10/05/13 - 08:06 am
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His words ring true. But the $$ will stay on Broad St. Tax $$
Unpublished

His words ring true. But the $$ will stay on Broad St. Tax $$

soapy_725
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soapy_725 10/05/13 - 08:07 am
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Pastors & parents do the work. RCBOE gets the $$. More $$.
Unpublished

Pastors & parents do the work. RCBOE gets the $$. More $$.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 10/05/13 - 08:09 am
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Yes the disease of sin is not a school issue, but a heart issue.
Unpublished

Yes the disease of sin is not a school issue, but a heart issue.

Bulldog
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Bulldog 10/05/13 - 08:19 am
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Its about time!

The silence from the so called religious leadership regarding this issue has been deafening! This may be the greatest sin of omission committed by the clergy since the holocaust of WWII. It's time to speak out and demand better. White clergy won't address it for fear of being labeled racists and the black clergy won't address it because... well, I have no idea. I just can't imagine why...

justthefacts
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justthefacts 10/05/13 - 08:57 am
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Great idea

But, wait until the ACLU gets wind of it.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/05/13 - 09:15 am
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Best idea in a long time

Different strokes for different folks....anything & everything should be on the plate...too much at stake to ignore this problem.

I think mentors in professional fields would be another wise thing to bring into this mix....I understand that Dr B Carson does this for young black men & it works wonders.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/05/13 - 11:05 am
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Good Mentoring Program is In Place

I've long encouraged mentoring in Richmond County and I believe they have a good program in place. Dr. Mac Bowman at University Hosp. would bring a couple of young black guys to work with him on Saturdays. They would wear a tie and you could just see the pride as they walked around with him as he made rounds. Everybody there, including the patients, took an interest and encouraged the kids he brought to work. I haven't seen Bowman in many years, but I assume he still does it. The 100 Black Men of Augusta also mentors. The school system also pays employees of all kinds to mentor. You are right mentoring is important and should be expanded.

allhans
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allhans 10/05/13 - 11:17 am
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I'm impressed.

I thought no one in the community had an understanding of the problem. So I too, am impressed.

grouse
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grouse 10/05/13 - 12:03 pm
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I'm all for church members
Unpublished

I'm all for church members helping the children in their community, but stay out of the schools!

Tots
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Tots 10/05/13 - 12:05 pm
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1
Great story.. I've always

Great story..
I've always said the church should be doing more to reach all young kids both black and white....But maybe he will address the white poor kids problems another time....

Yes, he is asking church leaders to join with the school system to raise the achievement of young, black males. Yes, he invited pastors and deacons to sit beside teachers and principals in his board room Friday to talk strategy.
Tots- This was all good,but his board room is the taxpayers board room and the poor white kids along with all other races need help too...

deestafford
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deestafford 10/05/13 - 12:45 pm
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What a super effort!

As most everyone knows the church is the center for many in the black community, even though some don't listen---such as sex and pregnancy out of marriage---this is where improvement will start.

As was so well stated, mentoring by the successful blacks and other professionals will let the young know their is another world out there and they can be part of it if they just do certain things.

chascushman
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chascushman 10/05/13 - 01:35 pm
2
2
"White clergy won't address
Unpublished

"White clergy won't address it for fear of being labeled racists and the black clergy won't address it because..."
Bulldog, I agree about the white clergy. I wonder about the black clergy. The Second Baptist Church in Aiken has had the Rev. Jermaine Wright, Obama's preacher, speak there twice. Wright preaches hatred toward white people and this country so it makes one wonder.

triscuit
3085
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triscuit 10/05/13 - 11:31 pm
0
0
Ummm...yes it looks like the

Ummm...yes it looks like the school system is finally admitting publicly that they cannot do it all. They can teach the kids when they are in school but they cannot parent these kids. That is what I meant! I am glad to finally see a black Supt bring it to the black community to step up and help where they can. Actually ALL parents of ALL races should do it.

triscuit
3085
Points
triscuit 10/05/13 - 11:31 pm
0
0
Ummm...yes it looks like the

Ummm...yes it looks like the school system is finally admitting publicly that they cannot do it all. They can teach the kids when they are in school but they cannot parent these kids. That is what I meant! I am glad to finally see a black Supt bring it to the black community to step up and help where they can. Actually ALL parents of ALL races should do it.

triscuit
3085
Points
triscuit 10/05/13 - 11:31 pm
0
0
Ummm...yes it looks like the

Ummm...yes it looks like the school system is finally admitting publicly that they cannot do it all. They can teach the kids when they are in school but they cannot parent these kids. That is what I meant! I am glad to finally see a black Supt bring it to the black community to step up and help where they can. Actually ALL parents of ALL races should do it.

triscuit
3085
Points
triscuit 10/05/13 - 11:31 pm
0
0
Ummm...yes it looks like the

Ummm...yes it looks like the school system is finally admitting publicly that they cannot do it all. They can teach the kids when they are in school but they cannot parent these kids. That is what I meant! I am glad to finally see a black Supt bring it to the black community to step up and help where they can. Actually ALL parents of ALL races should do it.

Darby
25651
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Darby 10/06/13 - 11:48 am
2
0
I support the concept, but in reality, it's just.......

One small step for man, one smaller step towards solving the problem.

If he'd said, "We need to ignore the rabble rousers, the Jacksons and Sharptons, etc", I'd be much more impressed.

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