Our View

Published 1:13 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2005

By Staff
Parental support will help save Escambia Middle
The "No Child Left Behind" Act, a law signed in 2002 by President George W. Bush to allow students the opportunity to leave underperforming schools with vouchers for schools in their area that were performing or to private schools, has seen more than it's share of controversy since its passing.
Many educators have lamented the increase in expectations with little or no increase in funding. Most troubling to many educators is the fact that funds are often reduced for schools on the underperforming list with each school report.
This year three schools in the Escambia County School System were classified as "needing improvement", and each will have to offer transfers to the students in their classrooms. W.S. Neal Elementary and Middle Schools, as well as Escambia County Middle School, were among the 313 schools in the state of Alabama who will have to offer vouchers.
While this is certainly troubling news, it comes as little surprise at ECMS, where problems have been rampant for a few years now. However, Escambia County Superintendent Melvin "Buck" Powell has seen to it that that school will improve - and quickly.
New principal Zickeyous Byrd is beyond qualified for the position, and after the community was able to witness his new plan for bringing ECMS out of the depths - and his proven history with doing that elsewhere - there shouldn't be too much worry for the future of our middle school.
Powell also released a statement today announcing the "Stand Up for Public Education" program in Escambia County Schools. The program is being instituted nation-wide, and was created to educate parents, community and business leaders, and elected officials that universal academic achievement (what the No Child Left Behind Act seeks to provide, rather than simple universal access to education) requires the political will, financial resources, and the educational capacity to determine how best to educate every child, according to program Executive Director Paul Houston.
Many of the goals outlined in the press release include getting children ready for school through comprehensive nutrition and health programs, early childhood education, and ongoing support for families. Other goals include getting schools ready for children by redesigning and transforming the organization, teaching and learning practices, and leadership strategies to meet the needs of the students who come to the schools, as well as getting children ready for democracy by preparing young people for active roles in society.
The first step to any of these goals becoming a reality is for parents to take an active role in their child's education, whether it be by attending PTA meetings, helping them with homework, or checking in with teachers to see how they're doing.
Lofty goals are wonderful, but none will be reached without first getting the support of parents. Our political leaders cannot ignore a voting base that large.

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