07/23/11 — An army of help: Children are not scoring where they need to -- what is the next step?

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An army of help: Children are not scoring where they need to -- what is the next step?

If you believe that the solution to every problem in the Wayne County Schools is to fire every teacher in a school where the scores are not good enough to meet a state standard, then read no further.

And if you truly believe that rescinding every administrator's contract and starting over is going to make this county's schools instantly better, than there must be more than a little fairy dust in your world.

As we read about the latest round of scores from county schools and prepare for the onslaught of naysayers and doubters to start their annual round of criticism, it might be interesting to try a different tact, a new perspective.

What could we, as a community, do to help make this situation better?

Of course, there are the tough remedies. We could demand parents take more responsibility and hold them more accountable for not only making sure their children get to school, but that these youngsters do their homework and make the grades.

We could target those who do not care for their children properly and bulldoze the areas where drugs, sex and violence are the environment in which these young people grow up.

We could attach more than a welfare check increase to having more children when you cannot take care of the ones you have. We could demand more of the people who have brought these students into the world.

Yes, we could do all of that -- not overnight, but over a number of years.

But what could we do now, immediately, that would have an impact?

The truth is there will always be children who need extra help, hope and role models. They will face poor conditions at home and learn a world view from parents or companions who are nothing short of irresponsible and value-less.

They will hear that education does not matter and that there is free money available to those who take advantage of it. They will succumb to the lure of drugs and violence just to have some prestige and to belong. And, if they are girls, they will turn to having a baby themselves to get the love they so lack in their lives.

It is these children we have to reach -- young -- before it is too late.

There are plenty of people in this community who would make incredible role models and many more who could offer an hour or two a week to help a student improve his or her math or reading skills.

They could inspire, lead and challenge. They could encourage, hug and show these young people that there are other choices, other possibilities for their lives.

They could offer a view of a different world and encourage dreams where none might already exist.

Yes, we can change the futures of these students who are not making the grade. We can see our schools improve. But we have to be willing to give a little of ourselves. That is how "change" becomes more than just a catch phrase. That is how you make a difference.

It is certainly a strategy worth considering.

Published in Editorials on July 23, 2011 11:01 PM