OPINION – It’s Time to Do the Right Thing
America is a country that was founded on the idea of hope and opportunity. This is a country that is symbolized by Bobby Kennedy’s quote, “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.” Senator Kennedy was right, America is a nation of dreams, but it is also a country where those dreams can become a reality.
By Sebastian King, Policy Advisor – NC General Assembly
Today, under promises that were not kept by our Greensboro City Council, economically disadvantaged citizens are struggling. They are struggling because they have been promised if you vote a certain way, if you support certain politicians, you can achieve the ‘American Dream.’ However, that is all it remains, a dream.
While most politicians struggle to understand the day-to-day battle of those who live in East Greensboro, I understand their story. My mother was taken advantage of when she was 15 years old and had me when she was 16. I was a first generation high school graduate and the first one to attend college. The stories of East Greensboro are the stories my mother experienced growing up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
It is time to do the right thing and help those who truly need assistance. The first step is….
As a child, if you do not know if you’re going to have a roof over your head, it is incredibly difficult to focus and succeed academically. The correlation between residential instability and educational struggles are a reflection of why we must find a solution to housing. This is where the Legislature can and should provide a grant for Affordable Living to be done in Urban North Carolina. By offering a stable living environment, we can take the first step on the path to opportunity.
With a child, you only have one opportunity to educate them properly through the school system. The ability to educate effectively in K-3rd grade provides a lasting imprint of future success in education. Research shows that students who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers who are proficient readers. Sadly, most of the public schools that are economically disadvantaged are not helping the students read on grade level.
While there is enough blame to go around for both parties, the legislature is currently working on a solution that would help with principals wishing to take on these challenges in the public schools. Currently, principals would take a pay decrease by going to a lower preforming school based off the current bonus structure. The proposal in the legislature today will allow high preforming principals a 2-3-year grace period to turn the school around before their bonus would be impacted. This is certainly a step in the right direction by the legislature.
However, a one size fits all approach will not address the inefficiencies of the public school system. Wealthy parents have always had the opportunity of school choice because they can afford to send their children off to private school. Economic disadvantaged families do not have that luxury. This is why Charter Schools can help bring opportunity to families if their local school does not educate their child adequately.
Sam Misher, a retired public school principal, is providing an opportunity for a quality education for economically disadvantaged families with Next Generation Academy (NGA). NGA provides transportation, and focuses on educational development for children in K-3rd grade that otherwise would’ve have fallen behind in education. With nearly three hundred students, NGA is ensuring these students are reading at grade level. As a Board Member of NGA, I believe we must recruit students that are being left behind in the public school system and ensure they have a home for opportunity at NGA.
Work Force Development
As the Campaign Manager for Rep. Jon Hardister, one thing we heard on the campaign trail from local business owners is that there are a lot of job openings, but they need skilled employees for the position.
N.C Works is a workforce training agency that can help train the local community in relevant skills that will get them a job making a living wage. From apprenticeships in the local high schools, to retraining the workforce, NC Works can provide a pathway to opportunity for East Greensboro.
While the pathway out of poverty cannot be paved in one night, a stable living environment, a quality education and an apprenticeship with a local business can provide opportunity to thousands of families in East Greensboro.