Education Attainment

This Committee's "Story" continues to evolve. Through a year of community work, this committee has identified barriers to prosperity, created recommendations to address these barriers, and submitted their recommendations to the PPA Steering Committee. The committee will continue its work as the final recommendations and strategy for implementation are developed.

These recommendations seem to tell the story of public education in Clarke County. We start with our learning that our schools do not effectively teach children living in poverty. CRCT scores are in the bottom quartile in every category when compared to other counties in the state. Our graduation rate for African-Americans is approximately 53%, and for Hispanics it is approximately 35%. Knowing this information, our community is telling us several things.

First, our community recognizes that addressing the issues of poverty is a community issue, not simply a school system issue. Our community recognizes the commitment and hard work of our teachers and staff, but also that they cannot do it alone. The concept of using schools as "community centers" acknowledges the importance of connecting all of our resources in a holistic manner and serving our families as we serve our students.

Second, our community wants to be proactive and acknowledges that the earlier we address the needs of children in poverty, the more likely we are going to be successful in the long run. High-quality, early childhood education for all children, particularly those in poverty, or near poverty, will be a major determinant of our ultimate success.

Third, our community is also making it very clear through its recommendations that governance and expanded opportunities are issues that this community will have to address if our families and children are to be successful. Recommendations focused on charter schools, community schools, new partnerships with the university and other community groups demonstrate the need to find different solutions for different children. These recommendations also address the importance of finding an expanded governance model that shares the accountability of schools to a greater segment of the community.

Fourth, our community is saying that our schools need to play an expanded role in workforce development. Schools must become a key community institution in developing a quality workforce, not only for K-12 students, but also for students who have left the system, or adults in need of new training. We need seamless education and workforce systems that meet the real needs of our community and emerging workforce.

Fifth, our community is saying that mentoring is necessary at every juncture of our journey. We need to find mentors to work with administrators to learn from those who have recreated their communities. Students need mentors to broaden their vision and believe in themselves. People moving into the workforce need mentors to teach them how to be good employees. The overall message about mentoring is we have to solve this poverty issue together and we each have strengths we can share with one another.