This White Paper provides a Biblical foundation for the NHCLC’s Education Directive and the needed reform in this crucial area. The first section includes a basic understanding of the role of the church, integration of faith, knowledge, education, pedagogy, the role of the educator, spirituality, student perspective, and the role of parents and pastors.
The second section gives attention to education reform topics including teacher effectiveness, the common core state standards (CCSS), and the need to close the gap between high school completion and college graduation. One of the seven directives of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference involves education, and gives specific attention to reducing the dropout rate amongst Latino students. The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is committed to impacting education reform and provides its own perspective and concerns regarding these issues. The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference charges itself with the responsibility to develop and implement a strategy that includes actions calling for comprehensive and proactive efforts on a national, local church and parental level for Latino students of all ages.
1. A Theological Reflection on Education Reform
A. The Church and the Academy
“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and to God the things which are God’s” (Mat. 22:21). In this famous biblical phrase, Jesus responds to the Jewish leaders who have launched their counterattack against Him. Jesus challenged the Jewish leadership. To trap Him, the Jewish leaders raise the question, “Is it, or is it not, lawful to pay tribute (or tax) to Rome?” This question attempted to put Jesus in a real dilemma. If He said that it was unlawful to pay the tax, they would promptly report Him to the Roman government officials and charge Him for causing people to rebel against the emperor, Caesar. But if He said that it was lawful to pay the tax, He would stand discredited in the eyes of the Jewish people whose only king was God. Whichever way Jesus might answer, He would lay himself open to trouble.
In His divine wisdom, knowing that kings strike their coinage with their image, and that rules and regulations are always changing with the new regime, Jesus avoided being trapped. Instead He used this occasion to acknowledge the earthly and divine nature of man. He reinforced a principle about matters of human and divine rights – an integrative principle that creates unity.
One challenge Christians face is the common assumption that the spiritual life is a life set aside from “secular” life and of the heavenly world is completely separate from the earthly one. Let Peter Drucker’s words not be said of us: “Churches see themselves as separate islands in a secular society. In reality they are organs of the larger society to do the social job. It is the foundational job for everything else. It is their job to raise the vision and the sense of purpose for the community.”
In early America, Churches saw education as its central to its mission. Theirs was a holistic education that included the heart, soul, mind and body. But, over time, the content and core functions of education -knowing, teaching and learning- began to lean toward a sectarian ethos that led to the creation of public school systems. Today, we have developed the separation of the “outer knowing” (intellectual, reasoning, rationality, and objectivity) from “inner sensing” (deep wisdom, wonder, sense of the sacred, and faith) that leaves a major educational void due to the lack of the integrative and unitive principle Jesus laid out between the sacred and the secular.
B. The Goal: The Integration of Faith and Knowledge
This paper is an attempt to establish some fundamental elements of the NHCLC’s Education Directive and further develop a connection between the Church and the academy towards an integration of faith and knowledge. What do churches and schools in America have in common? They both face a growing number of Hispanic/Latinos (used interchangeably in this paper) and the ability to bring much equity and justice to society through the development of those who God has placed in their midst. More powerful than rising dropout rates is “the force” of an education that gives a student a new awareness of self-hood, the social situation they find themselves in and tools that transform their community. Education is not only directive, it should be transformative. But the breach-between the outer knowing and inner sensing –needs to be filled first.
A successful collaborative between the Church and schools is important and attainable. The Church and school must “stand in the gap” and provide a more holistic and integrative pedagogy that provides much-needed intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual development. A holistic partnership is best represented when the Church and the school walk hand in hand to impact education reform. The goal is to reach toward a transformative vision for the purpose of regaining the heart and soul of both the Church and American education systems. Research is needed to identify critical components for the Church and school as they “stand in the gap.” Role clarification, expectation, and communication methodology need addressing.
For example, first generation Latinos practice communicating indirectly while school leaders and teachers communicate using direct styles. These two distinct methods of communicating often make it difficult for churches and schools to support a vision of a quality education for every child and an education that results in a balance between the inner and outer life. Research is needed to help strengthen communication approaches between schools and first generation Latino churches.
Finally, a hope is that schools exhibit equitable compassion and just action in educational policies and practice, especially to the underserved and under privileged. A zip code shouldn’t determine the quality of education or the resources available to a student. Latino students need an opportunity to be taught by the best teachers using the most impactful resources and not the opposite, which is what is currently perceived by the Latino community. Evangelist Charles Finney stated that: “The spiritual vitality of the church is sapped, not by her involvement in social (or education) questions but rather her failure to embrace reform of society.” Latino churches can and should play a vital role in the educating of Latino students.
C. The Foundation of Faith and Education
“If we can see it is our agreements which rule our life, and we don’t like the dream of life, we need to change the agreements.” -Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements. When we were born, we were given a name; a language that we agreed to speak, moral, cultural values and a religion. We began to have faith in these agreements. We used these agreements to judge ourselves and others. We followed the agreements and were rewarded. When we went against the rules we were punished. Then, pleasing others became a way of life, so much so that we became not who we really are but a copy of someone else’s beliefs.
The preceding narrative is a common journey for students and teachers alike. This is also the journey of institutions, both ecclesial and academic. This being the case, let church and schools agree to work together for a change. Let them be what they were founded to be. That is institutions that fight against alienation, disconnection, educational and spiritual inequities, and injustices that leave church members and students feeling inadequate and sinful. Let them agree to introduce a new social order in by being the change they desire to see.
During his earthly journey, Jesus taught the Ten Commandments to bring about a new social and spiritual order. These commandments represented a concise covenant and terse agreement set for all people. When asked which was the greatest of these, Jesus replied simply: “Love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt.22:36-40) and spread them in all nations known as the Great Commission (Mat.28:19-20). These vertical and horizontal dimensions of the Christian life foreshadow the Cross of Jesus. The stipe of the cross points upward, reminding us of our “vertical relationship” and call to love God. The patibulum of the cross extends outward to remind us of our “horizontal relationship” and call to love our neighbors.
The resurrected Christ commands His Church to spread His teachings to the world. Jesus when about doing good. (Matt.9.35) It has become a tenet in Christian stewardship and service emphasizing ministry, missionary work, evangelism and baptism. The teaching role of the Church is the wholesome renewal of the unity of the spiritual and public life.
D. An Integrative Pedagogy for Latino Students- Divided No More
“Why does one write, if not to put one’s pieces together? From the moment we enter school or church, education chops us into pieces; it teaches us to divorce soul from body and mind from heart. The fisherman of the Colombian coast must be learned doctors of ethics and morality, for they invented the word, sentipensante, feeling-thinking, to define language that speaks the truth” Galeano, in The Book of Embraces (1992).
Galeano describes the paradox of the Latino student’s “soul” that enters the classroom. This student brings realism and idealism both intertwined without confusion or confinement; a reality that defies neat classification and can prove difficult for teachers to understand. Paradox is defined as “that which seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.” Not infrequently a Latino or Hispanic becomes both, the Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in the Man of La Mancha. Many bring to the classroom the mixture of human groups and consider themselves “mestizos.” They are born of two or more histories and races, and with them begins a new history.
Over the next ten years, a fast-growing generation of culturally diverse students along with ideas stemming from various religions will increase the impact on American schools and colleges revealing a complex multifaceted student body and culture (Overberg, Rendón, Garcia,- 2004).While Whites will remain the majority group, the Hispanic student population will dramatically increase and become a challenge and opportunity to educators and education as a whole.
As stated before, a number of educators are concerned with today’s emphasis of separating rationality and intuition are moving toward a more holistic educational approach. This “holistic pedagogy” is evolving and giving birth to landmark research. Dr. Laura Rendón wrote The Integrative Consonant Pedagogy model in her groundbreaking book Sentipensante, (2009). This is a new pedagogical vision for the education of a diverse student, especially Latinos. This neologism is an indication of a new creative way of knowing and teaching students of color. She takes Galeano’s term sentipensante from combining two Spanish words sentir, to feel and pensar, to think. This term and the Spanish word Corazon, joins to words, heart with reason (mind).
This integrative pedagogy model is based on two themes: (a) integration, the unitive elements of what appears to be solely oppositional (paradoxical) concepts, and (b) consonance, the harmony that exists between two complementary concepts. Beyond this the most salient concept of this ontological principle is that it asks instructors to work with individuals as whole human beings: intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual thus creating the union of sensing and thinking processes and the balance between inner and outer knowledge. Here the term spirituality takes many forms. For Rendón, the most elemental definition is “breath of life,” human spirit and the interior life common to all individuals. The difference between spirituality and religion are varied. Definitions of the term “spirituality” range from theology as in Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, to the ontological as in integrative pedagogy and as far-fetched as being commercialized when perfumes are branded with names such as Zen.
This integrative pedagogy as a method of teaching requires numerous but important agreements: (1) to work with diverse ways of knowing diverse learning strategies in the classroom; (2) reframe educational achievement and success not solely on linguistic and logical abilities; (3) to embrace connectedness, collaboration and transdiciplinarity; (4) individual based and community based learning; (5) place diversity on the “asset side” of investment and not the cost side; (6) use newly constructed agreements of multiculturalism; (7) have teachers balance personal and professional lives taking time for introspection and (8) work on transforming teaching and learning rather than just mastering information and content. Rendon’s approach to integrate the spiritual and the secular, the emotional and the rational, reflect NHCLC’s desire to educate the whole student in a way that honors their heritage of faith and culture.
E. The Heart and Soul of the Educator –The Deep Speaks to the Deep.
“Surely (God desires) truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place” (Psalms 51:6). Jesus went about doing good, however the greatest of all names given Him was the “I AM” (John 8:58). This name was His source of authority. A teacher instructs from what s/he is, not only from what s/he knows. Good teaching is more than technique; it comes from identity and integrity. Good teachers are present in the classroom, engaged with students and their subject.
This sense of being is often missing from the core functions of education -knowing, teaching and learning-an in the lives of many educators. Issues of integrity surface in the life of teachers causing what Parker Palmer describes as the “pain of disconnection” as mentioned in The Courage to Teach (1998) and To Know As We Are Known (1966). The culture and size of the settings where teaching takes place, the emphasis upon achieving grades and training marketable skills, and the pressure to ‘produce’ all take their toll resulting in a disconnection from peers, students, and their hearts.
This principle of wholeness and integrity offers opportunity for Christ’s church to be engaged in education reform to move from a traditional educational framework to a new and integrative pedagogical one. A deeper education requires teachers to know themselves and be willing to live undivided lives. This is not easy in a world where there is a crisis of identity. Students live in a culture that tells them “do in order to become and be someone.” But the reverse is true; our faith says “to be in order to become and then you will do what God wants you to do.” The paradigm is this: To be is to have value and credibility. To become is to have vision. To do is to have a vocation and develop competence. The ontological truth is that we are human beings not human doings or orthopraxis.
This reform movement begins with the teacher and his or her sense of calling to the Church and the academy. This is vital in creating enduring education reform. While we understand that not all teachers will be people of faith, teachers should choose their vocation for reasons of the heart because they care deeply. Jesus knew His calling and said in Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,” at the core and nexus of the cross by which He fulfilled His calling were the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed.
F. The Spirituality and Hope of Students.
Who am I? What are my values? Do I have a mission in life? Why am I in college? What kind of person do I want to be? What sort of world do I want to help to create? Studies show that questions students have in school are related to the content of subjects, but also to their lives. There is a growing movement among educators that aims to raise the awareness of school administrators, faculty, students and the public at large to the vital role that spirituality plays in education, especially in the students’ learning and development. The Church is involved because this is not solely a method for students to develop a secular ethics of the heart but to enhance the spiritual acumen of their soul.
A five-year research study at UCLA revealed the significance of spirituality in the life of students. The findings were recorded by Alexander and Helen Astin, Cultivating the Spirit -. How College can enhance Students’ Inner Lives.” Their findings reveal the difference between religion and spirituality engagement. Spirituality is connected not only to the self-development of the human spirit in the form of finding meaning, purpose, and wholeness in life, but also to the promotion of social justice, caring and connectedness.
In this integrative pedagogy model, the curriculum is democratic, inclusive, and reflective of student backgrounds and needs. It fosters transformation in students as they define themselves, find self-worth, purpose and a voice to tell their story. Without this spiritual development, teachers are unable to assess the students’ true academic progress. This is especially important for low-income, first-generation students, but all students that feel the pain of disconnection. Students growing in maturity reflect a capacity to “see the silver lining” during difficult times, a sense of spiritual well being and optimism. When faculty is able to see something more in the student than what the student is able to see in his/her self the relationship between teacher and student is improved.
When education is employed as a tool to connect personal transformation and social change in society it becomes significant in the lives of students, the Church, society, and home.
G. The Role of Parents and Pastors
“Home is where your story begins.” A. Dickerson. The central role of the family, extended family and church are salient characteristics of the Hispanic culture. Familial and cultural heritage play a critical role in matters of education. Recent immigrants come from countries where education was scarce. In this country, education has been known to poorly serve the Hispanic community due to the cultural diversity.
Children leaving home, for a few hours a day or moving into a college dorm, is not seen for the most part as a right-of-passage in the Hispanic community. Being away from direct parental influence increases the chances of abandoning customary behaviors, family traditions and religion. Hence, education as a family business is on the cost side than the asset side of the ledger and viewed as competition not contribution. Therefore, the family-school relationship becomes critical, especially to the student’s teacher. Teacher-student communication must be personal as well as professional. Teacher-parent conferences and association (PTA) are vital. The initiative must come from the teacher and school. Latino’s perceive taking the initiative as confrontational.
Hispanic spirituality is deeply familist and religious. Eldin Villafañe, in The Liberating Spirit, emphasizes, “The Hispanic American is a ‘homo religious.” There is no area of life, no matter how trivial, that is not ‘transmuted’ by the religious sentiment. The depth of Hispanic religiosity cannot be fathomed by mere statistical quantification of church attendance, or for that matter, statistical surveys or religious profiles. The Hispanic culture and person cannot be understood apart from this religious dimension.” The members at church become a family of “brothers and sisters.” The pastor is an authority involved in decisions at home and school.
The fastest growing church attendance in the country involves Hispanics. Churches drawing the most are the conservative churches and those emphasizing the spiritual dimension including Protestant and Catholics. An integrative method of teaching in schools has the potential to engage Latinos in education reform. This method complements the message of wholeness the Church teaches. Any spirituality that ultimately is about loving God and loving neighbor as oneself is true to Jesus’ command. It is the integration of the spiritual, ethical, identity, vocation, worship and service. Let us agree to the elements of a social spirituality and engage both the Church and the school with education reform in our communities.
2. The NHCLC Perspective on Education Reform
Teacher effectiveness is a major issue related to education reform. Hanushek states that teachers score highest with reference to influence on student achievement when compared to funding, class size, curriculum or choice of school. Teacher measurement tends to be subjective with more attention given to class management than strategic teaching methodology. Current salary mechanisms fail to distinguish and reward stellar teachers from those performing at substandard levels. The availability of effective teachers in urban and less financially stable school districts is a concern. Administrators struggle with management decisions regarding less than proficient teachers. Education reform gives attention to each of these items.
The NHCLC affirms the crucial role of teachers for effective education. The vocation of teaching is viewed as a calling. Teacher influence on students is critical and includes more than just the academic environment. For Latino students, effective teachers must understand and apply tenets of the integrative pedagogy described earlier. A holistic teaching approach provides a foundation for success. The method to establish trust is influenced by cultural norms (Marquardt and Horbatch, 2001) In addition, a “reluctance to share valuable ideas occur(s) when culture is not understood” (Ramirez, 2010 p, 43; Janssens and Brett, 2006). Therefore, effective teachers will not only be able to identify but also place energy to understand Latino student culture. This cultural understanding aids shaping dreams, evoking trust, creating a recognizably safe environment where ideas will be valued, teaching knowledge in a culturally sensitive manner, partnering with parents and influential adults in a student’s life, affirming identity as a whole, and strengthening relationships in and outside the academic arena. (See appendix for a list of cultural dimensions identified by Hofstede) Effective teachers need to understand the cultural differences between first and third generation students, parents, and church leaders to improve educational results. Some Latino teachers have shared that they have given up the profession due to a lack of understanding of these issues from administrators. They understood that teaching called for attention to cultural dimensions. However, academic metrics did not recognize this valuable process as fundamental for success. Research is needed to provide tools to help school officials and teachers understand the impact of Latino cultural dimensions to include communication styles and conflict resolution. Research is needed to provide tools to help Latino leaders understand the school culture with regards to the same issues. Additional research is needed to provide metrics assessing outside school engagement for those teaching Latino students. Our ongoing concerns include a perceived lack of equity with regard to the distribution of highly effective teachers. Studies affirm that a student’s zip code is still directly correlated to academic success.
The NHCLC also affirms the critical role for parents for students to be successful in school. Parents must advocate for their children, set high standards in their home, and keep their children accountable as they matriculate through the educational system. Current communication processes often make it difficult for Latino parents to provide adequate feedback to teachers and administrators. Many Latino parents lack an understanding of the American academic processes making it difficult for them to engage. A lack of knowledge regarding the system and process marginalizes Latino families. Many Latino parents and pastors have not been trained to identify talented and impactful teachers. In addition, many Latino pastors and parents also lack training to differentiate between stellar and non-effective teachers. They need skills to enable them to interact with administrators to report classroom issues, including teachers who are not having a positive impact.
The NHCLC is in the process of forming a strategy related to “Raising the Standards” that includes a role for the teacher, student, core standards, testing, curricula, parents, pastors, and church members. With regards to teachers, Latino families and their churches call for a collaborative effort to develop a measurement approach that is fair and meaningful for all. We desire an opportunity to participate in a classroom and systemic evaluation that works to improve the progress of Latino students, teachers, and the administration. Mechanisms providing two-way constructive feedback for Latino parents and teachers need to include an understanding of cultural tenets that impact communication. More effective teachers need to be added to all schools for improvement. Measures need to be developed to identify the impact of adding effective teachers to urban school settings. Measurements and reports need to be created to identify distribution patterns of effective teachers in Latino majority school districts. Policies must allow for academic leaders to train or release teachers unable to meet the collaborative effort on reform. The NHCLC Education Reform calls for pastors and church members to stand in the gap and take a proactive role in the success of their students. Because teaching is seen as a vocation, pastors and churches have the opportunity to establish partnerships with teachers and administrators. Standing in the gap calls for pastors and church members to fully engage the academic system in order to provide support, prayer, accountability, and communication for the benefit of their students. Latino families have a trust for their pastors and church leaders. Standing in the gap requires for pastors and church leaders to provide orientation and understanding for parents to engage the American academic system. Pastors and church leaders help by developing a relationship of trust and cooperation with local schoolteachers and administrators.
Strategic actions on the part of Latino churches comprise a significant role with Education Reform. One action may be for the Pastor and church leaders to sign a covenant. (See Appendix for list of covenant actions)
A key role relating to teacher effectiveness will be an enlistment campaign planned to identify and equip local church volunteers known as “academic champions.” This person serves as a bridge between the congregation and schools. They assist the pastor and church to understand the American academic system. They engage the school system to help it understand the culture and challenges faced by Latino families. They connect to schools and administration to identify best practices for academic success. They share practices with parents using their understanding of Latino culture and concepts translated into Spanish as appropriate. They help parents and students understand the academic culture in order to succeed. They help the church understand how best to leverage school and community resources to benefit Latino students and parents. They provide updates regarding additional national resources available to church families and the community. This one provision of the developing NHCLC strategy reflects the collaborative between churches and schools in making a lasting difference for both school and church in their effort to create an integrative pedagogy. School leaders and church academic champions have critical roles to play. Research is needed to develop best practices for each role and the entities they represent for a holistic educational approach.
The Common Core State Standards represent a new future for education. The focus involves the development of clear, measurable, rigorous standards in subject areas of Mathematics and English Language Arts. Successful attainment of these standards serves as a benchmark to aid in positioning students for readiness to attend college without remediation and/or to navigate into a work environment. This is a significant step in light of the fact that only one in five African American and Hispanic graduating students are ready to take college classes. We celebrate new standards that place students in a learning mode that better ensure their academic success. The standards represent a focus on key subjects so students may be able to gain a deep understanding of the concepts positioning them to compete more effectively on a global scale.
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference affirms the Common Core Standards strategy. Conceptually, we are prepared to encourage Hispanic congregations to participate and support their students, teachers, and schools with regards to the Common Core State Standards. Hispanic churches are prepared to render unto “Caesar” what belongs to “Caesar.” Every student in American deserves an opportunity to succeed and to be evaluated consistently regardless of the school system they attend throughout their academic career. These Core Standards offer that opportunity.
While there is a serious commitment to support the Common Core State Standards approach, there are also concerns that need attention. As mentioned in the media and statistical reports, in some cases more than 50% of Hispanic students are dropping out before completing high school. Many parents and pastors are not familiar with the culture and processes of American schools. American schools systems need to engage and understand the Hispanic culture, communication, and conflict resolution approaches for improved collaboration. Hispanic leaders raise important questions that need resolution with regards to an acceptance and support of the Common Core State Standards. Examples of critical questions include the following: What steps can be taken to bridge the identified gaps in preparation for a deployment of the Core Standards approach? What strategies will school systems initiate to help pastors, parents, and students “catch-up” in order for them to be ready to succeed as these Standards are introduced? What actions will administrators take related to less than proficient teacher performance? How will Latino students access the most talented teachers and resources to help them successfully engage the Common Core Standards? What actions can they take when discovering that their students are not progressing with the new standards? Responses to these questions need to include an understanding of the first section of this paper.
The NHCLC stands ready to partner with academia for effective and culturally relevant solutions. A National Hispanic Education Summit is held annually to provide attention to issues raised by the questions listed above. Academic leaders from elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as universities are invited to help pastors and church leaders understand best practices for success in the American school system. During the summit, church leaders provide input to educators regarding actions they take to encourage academic progress in their congregations. Feedback and input is provided to/from church leaders to/from academic leaders. While the summit is held in one location, it is possible to consider methods to help disseminate discoveries, solutions, and best practices of the summit to Hispanic churches belonging to the NHCLC in Spanish and English. The Summit represents one solution opportunity for educational reform. The NHCLC website is a resource for local church academic resource volunteers. Strategic information regarding the Common Core State Standards can be disseminated through the website in English and Spanish to help bridge churches and to help them understand the Common Core Standards benefits, characteristics, and expectations.
Post-Secondary Completion or “Closing the Gap” refers to the significant number of Hispanic students not attending or completing college. The statistics suggest that approximately sixty-two percent of all jobs will require a college degree by 2018. Some school districts report that only half of their Hispanic students graduate from high school. Fewer Hispanic students go to college and a smaller group secures a college degree. Obstacles such as culture, financial, academic, social, and spiritual elements, must be studied and resolved for increased success for Hispanic students. Many parents come from countries where six years of academic education is required and viewed as adequate. Here, a college degree is the considered as a vital step to the American dream. This conceptual shift is a key for Hispanic student success.
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference aligns itself with those desiring of closing the educational gap Hispanics still face. The NHCLC recognizes that college success begins in preschool, and we advocate for increased funding for early education and full day kindergarten. Hispanic children start to fall behind early in grade school. It is possible, but difficult, to redeem delayed students in higher grades. It is much more efficient to help a child begin his/her academic career with a level of learning readiness necessary for success from kindergarten through college. Therefore, the NHCLC is developing a cradle-to-grave strategic academic initiative to help close the gap with a working title of Raising the Standards. Students of all ages are encouraged to academic excellence through sermons, Bible studies, and other resources in and outside their homes. (See Appendix for potential actions church leaders can take to close the gap) An advantage for the NHCLC is its ability to communicate strategies and mobilize 40,000+ Hispanic church leaders to participate. Closing the gap is a challenge, but not insurmountable.
Teacher effectiveness, the Common Core State Standards, and closing the educational gap are themes that reflect hope and progress in education reform by the NHCLC. Our commitment and developing strategies are comprehensive and unending till the goal is reached. Like Jesus, the ideas of proclaiming freedom for prisoners, helping the blind recover their sight, and helping to release the oppressed are in concert with the heart and passion of the leadership of churches across the country. Thank God, we have divine help for the journey to Finish the Race!
Cultural dimensions identified by Hofstede include:
• Power Distance
• Uncertainty Avoidance
• Individualism versus Collectivism
• Gender roles
• Long versus short-term orientation
• Perspective on time and the future
Possible Covenant Actions Include the Church:
• Emphasizing an annual Sunday worship program to affirm academic progress (Hispanic Education Sunday, September 2, 2012)
• Declaring a no “drop-out” zone for the local church community,
• Enlisting of a volunteer academic resource leader responsible for connecting the church with the academic community and its resources
• Encouraging 100% school attendance for all church member students
• Inviting students to place “report cards” in offering plates encouraging best efforts
• Taking church families to tour schools and universities for orientation and impact
Raising funds to for partial scholarships to encourage students to attend college
Actions churches can take to help close the gap include:
• Pastors and adult members can set the example by securing a GED or taking a college level course. When pastors and parents take these steps, children get taught the priority of education.
• Providing free online GED preparation support at every church
• Enlisting a volunteer academic resource leader at every church
• Developing a go-to-college culture within the church community
• Enlisting tutors and mentors available to parents and students
• Providing a list of companies that provide tuition reimbursement for employees
• Developing a church network so students receive support when away to college
• Providing resources in English and Spanish to help parents
• Publishing 100+ Stories of Hope for Hispanics overcoming graduate college.
• Sharing best recruitment and retention practices at the National Hispanic Summit
• Encouraging universities to reduce institutional obstacles faced by Latino’s
• Encouraging pastors and parents to advocate with legislators with regards to the academic needs of Hispanic students and their families
White Paper written by Dr. Jesse Miranda and Dr. Gus Reyes with updates by Dr. Carlos Campo (May 25, 2014).