02/09/06 — Real talk: Meaningful discussion needed on students’ quality of life

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Real talk: Meaningful discussion needed on students’ quality of life

The Wayne County Board of Education is not giving up on its determination that one of the best ways to improve the performance of students who are struggling to meet minimum academic standards in schools is to improve the environments in which some of those same students live.

So, this week, board members made their request formal that city officials join with them to find ways to improve housing, clean up drugs and gangs and otherwise help support some of the area’s most at-risk children and families.

They are not the first to come up with the idea that home life has a direct effect on student success. Education officials across the nation have been warning for years that if we do not fix the family, we cannot possibly fix schools.

And here at home, Goldsboro City Manager Joe Huffman and Mayor Al King, along with the rest of City Council, have already pledged to work to improve the neighborhoods in the city, making them safer, cleaner and better places to raise families.

So, the formal resolution this week is a reinforcement of a goal that has already been targeted for this community.

But what will not have any effect at all on the conditions in Goldsboro’s neighborhoods or the future success of the county and city’s students, however, are a whole lot more speeches or resolutions that do nothing but gather dust.

The school board seems to be committed to having a dialogue to discuss the conditions in Goldsboro’s neighborhoods. The city seems willing to address the issue with concrete policies and the decisions and funding to support such a project. So, now is a great time to get some community leaders, neighborhood representatives and school and city leaders together to talk about the problems and possible solutions.

And that means real talk. There will be no room for politician-speak here. If these concerns are not addressed head-on, there is no sense in talking about them at all.

This is not a problem that will be fixed overnight. There will be many ideas needed and lots of plain talk required before anyone can propose a meaningful resolution to the conditions in the inner city.

But getting started talking just might give the families who struggle with these issues daily the idea that their schools and elected officials are in their corner — and ready to stand beside them to make meaningful change.

That alone is a step in the right direction.

Published in Editorials on February 9, 2006 10:52 AM