I remember growing up and the entire community supported and made it their business to lookout for their kids no matter how much or how little parents were willing and/or able to do.
Collectively, everyone ensured that kids stayed on track and out of trouble. There were few and far between those that slipped through the cracks. Those kids were shunned and never celebrated or looked up to by other kids. In fact, news of their mischief often reached their parents and community long before they arrived home at the end of the day and they had to endure the “walk of shame” through the neighborhood.
However, today many are quick to say that our youth are not their responsibility. Yet, while the majority of their day is spent in school, they are not entirely the teacher and school administrator’s responsibility either. Seriously, how can teachers effectively “raise” students when their concerns mostly center on school reform and legislation such as the new common core standards and the newly implemented Read to Achieve Law?
We’ve reduced their efforts and ability to trying to ensure students can “pass the test.” There’s no time left to focus on the individualized needs of many children that cause them not to succeed. Many children cannot focus on learning because there are so many other factors and circumstances they face before they even start the school day. As a result, many children disengage in education early in life and for some, that even means dropping out.
Dropouts are 3.5 times more likely to be involved in crime. In North Carolina, 73 students drop out every day. A single dropout costs the state a quarter of a million dollars in lost earning, taxes and productivity. In rural areas such as Richmond County, only 7 out of 10 students actually graduate high school.
No other subject area has proved more evident that we all need to help out as a village as literacy. The numbers surrounding literacy are daunting everywhere. In fact, there is direct proven correlation to illiteracy and incarceration rates. No wonder, the state felt compelled to introduce the Read to Achieve Legislation this school year.
Instead of saying “it’s not my problem” let’s act like the village we grew up in and roll up our sleeves and make a difference.
Fallon Brewington is executive director of Communities in Schools of Richmond County.