Schools reflect a bigger issue that most political figures and businesses are not giving much attention to - the health of the community. Schools that are "successful" (and I mean this loosely in the sense of performance on assessments) are embedded in areas where there is a community of support. Let's pause here. When the word community is being referenced, it is not limited to the physical and geographic location around the school structure. Yes this is part of the definition but essentially, the definition of community, for this context is support and assistance aligned with a plan of action that works toward empowering individuals, economically, educationally and socially.
Our schools can not reach their full potential without empowering the community in which they reside. Students are constantly battling the ideal with their reality. Teachers are pushing a world without limits if you just get an education yet the students leave the school where there is plenty evidence of limitations on their way home. Yes, we desire for students to have their internal motivation to persevere through every hardship they encounter. Some of our students do. But it doesn't hurt to see success every once in a while with community development, parks, local businesses opening, health and educational services available to all who seek them. A picture is definitely worth more than just a conversation.
Our municipalities need to begin working with partners to begin plans for community empowerment, particularly around schools. There is a need to support educational and financially development of community members. Our students need motivation and support from everywhere.
We won't know if community empowerment is impactful until we begin. It's time to move the discussion further and faster than before. The clock is ticking for our students.
Image compliments of Almondbury Community Schools, West Yorkshire