Churches play role in education

DETROIT - In an article discussing the impact of the Detroit church community on the education of black children, The Detroit News reported that while several churches have helped to establish public charter schools, at least one prefers working to strengthen the conventional public school system.

Founded in 1836, Second Baptist Church in downtown Detroit established the city's first school for black children in 1839 out of a longstanding belief in the importance of education, The News reported. An early student at that school, Fannie Richards, went on to become the first black teacher of an integrated classroom in Detroit, the report said, though it took a Michigan Supreme Court decision to enforce her right to do so.

Today, the church continues to work through the conventional school system on behalf of black children, the Rev. Kevin Turman, pastor, told The News, but he also said he is concerned about the quality of education.

"I just wonder how many of our bright Detroiters will get the same type of quality education outside of charter, magnet or schools of choice that can make them competitive with students from around the world," Turman told The News.

Other Detroit area churches have chosen to help start public charter schools, The News reported, including Perfecting Church (Marvin L. Winans Academy for Performing Arts), Plymouth United Church of Christ (Plymouth Educational Center), and Greater Grace Temple Church (David Ellis Academy).

The News article is part of a Black History Month series on the impact of the church on the Metro Detroit black community.

The Detroit News, "Second Baptist Church at forefront of education values," Feb. 9, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "With Clear Eyes, Sincere Hearts and Open Minds: A Second Look at Public Education in America," July 27, 2002