The Black Church and Youth Education in St. Paul.
In their effort to rise from the bottom rung of the economic ladder, Black parents have traditionally placed greater confidence in the educational system than in any other social institution or process in American society. However, that confidence was and continues to be misplaced because of ineffectual schools, particularly in inner cities. It is well documented that young people of color tend to do significantly less well than their White counterparts on federally mandated standardized state tests. Young people often must count on local institutions such as the Black Church as 'safe havens' to improve their life chances. This article summarizes a study of how churches in St. Paul's Summit- University community define and respond to the perceived and actual educational needs of local African American young people. The study focused on the Black Church as a community resource that historically has played a leadership role with respect to youth, especially on education. Summit-University, which is part of the historic Rondo neighborhood, was chosen as the focus for this research for two reasons: It has one of the highest concentrations of people of color and schools of colorﾗparticularly African Americanﾗin the Twin Cities; and Rondo historically has been home to churches, community organizations, and other institutions that have primarily served Black residents. Those institutions have remained in place despite shifts in population and boundaries, providing a social context that still shapes the present-day Summit-University community. The author concludes that while Black churches in St. Paul's Summit-University community have historically undertaken concrete measures to respond to the academic needs of local African American youth, the programs they sponsor are no longer sufficient to meet the educational needs of today's youth. The author offers recommendations for how local Black churches can better respond to the needs of contemporary youth.