Religious leaders to join business roundtable

Churches, synagogues to promote academics

September 11, 2001|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Maryland high school students will soon be hearing about the importance of academics from a new group of adults: the religious community.

The state's religious leaders are scheduled to announce this morning that they're joining the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education's "Achievement Counts" campaign.

The program -- which in the past has relied on radio campaigns and classroom speakers -- will seek to encourage ministers, priests, pastors and rabbis to talk to students about the value of working hard in school.

"The faith-based leaders can be influential with young people," said June Streckfus, executive director of the roundtable. "They can send the message out that achievement counts, so at places of worship people will hear the message."

The Rev. Frank M. Reid III, senior pastor of West Baltimore's Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, is expected to be a key leader in organizing the religious leaders, particularly for a summit with youth ministers later this fall to focus on having churches and synagogues promote academic achievement.

Editors of church bulletins also likely would be encouraged to print tips on how parents might better help their children learn in school -- part of the roundtable's "Parents Count" campaign.

This morning's announcement marks a major expansion of the roundtable's efforts, which include a 3-year-old campaign to persuade businesses to consider high school transcripts in making hiring decisions.

The roundtable -- made up of 125 Maryland companies dedicated to supporting education reform and improved student achievement -- has organized a speaker's bureau of more than 700 successful young adults in their 20s and 30s.

The young people will talk to ninth-graders in 15 school systems this year about the importance of their high school education to success in the work force.

The roundtable also is continuing a radio campaign begun last year with WXYV-FM (102.7) to encourage students to attend school and take their academics seriously. The campaign is expanding to include WERQ-FM (92.3) this year.

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