By Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh
Building More Community Partnerships to Strengthen Our Schools
How do we strengthen our public schools?
Here’s one solution: find new and innovative ways to increase student and family involvement in the education system.
I believe that can happen if more community organizations and traditional schools work together in leveraging resources to boost academics and enhance critical thinking skills of our youth.
By creating more partnerships, we can make a huge impact in our schools as well as in our community, since education gives people the skills and tools to find good jobs and sustain viable economic growth.
Consider the work my organization, Urban League of Broward County, is doing to prepare children for school, college and the workforce.
Our School is Cool program addresses the ABC’s (attendance, behavior and coursework performance) for struggling middle school youth. The program offers life skills, academic remediation, course correction, parent engagement, and enrichment activities with the intent of getting the students back on track for graduation.
Also, our Asset Building Leads to Excellence (ABLE) program increases positive decision making in middle school students in an effort to reduce risk factors associated with substance abuse, teen pregnancy, delinquency, and school failure. And our Crime Prevention and Intervention program deters at-risk youth from engaging in criminal behavior, focusing on anger management, behavior modification and employability skills.
We can’t point to our school principals and teachers as being solely responsible for preparing our youth for the future. It’s up to our entire community to get involved.
It’s a proven fact that children do better in school when their parents or caregivers are involved in their education.
Families have to take part. It’s no longer enough to attend the occasional PTA meetings or scan take-home flyers. Parents have to know what’s going on daily in the classroom and they have to be engaged in their children’s homework assignments.
This isn’t easy. Many of our parents are working one, two or even three jobs. They are exhausted and don’t always have the time and energy to be fully involved in their children’s education.
That’s where partnerships between community organizations and traditional school systems come into play. In Broward County, our Children Service’s Council funds education and health programs delivered by a network of 100 providers including the Urban League.
The Council carries enormous benefits for our children -- without it, summer education programs, early learning and literacy services, and after-school and weekend activities will go unfunded. These programs are a huge value in our community. They support learning and higher academic achievement.
We need more community programs to keep children learning when the school day ends. Without such programs, many of our kids would not have a full education experience.
Continued investment in the education and development of our children is the surest way for our community -- and our nation -- to remain globally competitive.
The Baughtom Line is this: Education provides us with skills and knowledge about the world. It also helps build character and paves the way for a good career. Schools can only do so much to educate our children. We need more community education programs to keep the learning going after the school day ends. Let’s build more partnerships between community organizations and traditional schools.