It’s not a new topic, but we certainly seem to rehash it every year or so. With quality early childhood education, children will be school ready; have higher graduation rates and grow into productive citizens and valuable employees. And while our own state’s approach to preparing children for kindergarten now hangs in the balance in the court system, we have significant research about the first 2000 days of a child’s life.
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United Way invests community funds in Education, Income and Health. Considered the building blocks for a good life, these three areas are addressed by different nonprofit and public programs that propose to improve the lives of their clients in very specific ways and to measure how successful they are. After experts in these areas recommend to the United Way board which programs should receive funds, the board votes, contracts are signed and the programs begin their work. At the end of 12 months, each program submits a final report of their clients’ results.
With a high rate of working parents in Buncombe County, it would seem important to have a sound approach to finding good after-school care for our children. But how does that usually work?
In a conversation with community volunteers about United Way’s focus on education, we heard the following comments: “Kids aren’t my best group to work with”, “There is a reason I’m not a teacher” and “School years weren’t my happiest – what else can I do”. Realizing at the same time that school volunteer programs don’t always align with people’s availability, we figured that we could suggest ways to support education of children outside of the classroom.
During a period of 24 months, United Way visited 42 different groups of Buncombe County residents and asked 326 people about their dreams for a good community. We asked them what kind of community they want, what it means to have a good life, what gets in the way of that here, and what can be done to fix those obstacles.
We learned a lot and we are inspired by their thoughtful conversations with each other. People were sincere and forthright in their responses. When we compiled all the responses, we realized 4 strong themes from every conversation.
As technology advances continue to evolve, there are amazing new opportunities to teach and to learn in very different ways: Ways that could evolutionize the classroom.
One of the first pieces of public education to come to the chopping block is teacher assistants. Perhaps they seem like fluff to legislators and politicians? Maybe our elected officials see this position as one that can be replaced with a parent or other volunteer? Maybe it would help to look a bit more closely at the list of tasks they are expected to master on the job.
Vouchers, independent school districts, charter schools, magnet schools….are they all signs of our country’s abandonment of public education? Or a commitment to improve the education of our children?
Many years ago when I asked my 5 year old daughter which school she wanted to attend from a choice of magnet theme elementary schools, without hesitation her reply was “my school” – which to her meant the one in our neighborhood.
Every August I hear parents say “I will be so ready for school to start up!” After weeks of trying to occupy, entertain, and monitor their children, they often relish the chance to get back into a routine of six hours or so of kids at school.
On May 7th over 60 women gathered to learn about and sign up to join the Women’s Leadership Council. This "WLC" is now part of a powerful network of caring women – more than 50,000 members in 130 communities across the country – who are standing up and taking action. Here’s what is happening in Buncombe County.