10/18/06 — Talking schools: Listening to concerns and acting will change future

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Talking schools: Listening to concerns and acting will change future

Although in Wayne County the discussions have focused primarily on facilities and the Duplin County School District’s meetings dealt with more than just bricks and mortar, the efforts by both districts to listen to their communities’ concerns could be key to improving education for children in both counties.

There are plenty of areas that need to be talked about in any school district in any part of the country. From schools that are struggling to manage deteriorating facilities to those that are working hard to improve curriculum programs with little state and federal support, there are plenty of issues that residents and parents need to be aware of when it comes to the future of the nation’s education system.

And they need to express their concerns, too.

There is reason to be worried about test scores, dropout rates and teacher quality. Evaluating curriculum is also important. Looking critically at our school programs and those who run those districts will help us make better schools. Everyone, including education professionals, is united in the desire to make sure students receive the best education possible.

But also critical to that discussion of where our schools need work and where they are succeeding is an understanding of the playing field.

To talk education, we need to understand the federal and state mandates as they affect an ever-shrinking pool of money. We need to look at the battles that teachers and administrators face as they try to offer programs that meet the needs of a changing student population. We need to know what it is like to be in a classroom these days — and what challenges students face.

We also need to decide how much money our schools need and how much we are willing to invest in them.

Wayne County is currently talking about buildings, but soon, school officials have promised to talk about other issues the system faces. There have been plenty of discussions about curriculum, attracting and keeping teachers and how to make better schools for the county’s children already, and those talks need to continue. That is what makes a school district better for all the children who attend.

Keeping the lines of communication open between the community and the school districts is a critical first step to creating and maintaining the kind of school districts Wayne and Duplin counties will be proud of not just now, but years in the future.

And that is the prize we should all strive for as the process continues.

Published in Editorials on October 18, 2006 11:43 AM