Most people do resolutions in January.
I think Pensacola should dare to be different. I think August is a great time for a resolution.
A resolution to take the mantra of “each one, teach one’ seriously and to heart.
The school year is beginning. The sales tax holiday is over. The buses are on the road. This is a perfect time to ask yourself: What are you prepared to do?
Teachers are the professionals. They have the training and the intellect to break down base 10 math theory and Common Core standards for expository writing into bits and pieces that children can digest.
Principals are the tone-setters. They are in the leadership positions to make sure that resources are allocated to the students who are struggling and the staff who need help managing their classrooms.
They create a culture that promotes accountability for everyone -- from the lunch ladies to the student of the month.
Parents are the foundation. If a child in your life is in school, know his teacher’s name. Ask what she did in class today. Take the time to go over those reams of class worksheets and homework assignments.
If your child is under the age of 5, talk to them. Every day, talk to them. Narrate your day to talk about what you see as you drive down the street or what you pass in the grocery store. The more words those little ears hear, the better their chances are once they get into the classroom.
Make sure that by the time they get to prek they know more letters than the ones that appear on the Xbox controller.
And if you aren’t any of those things, you aren’t off the hook either.
In the Pensacola area, especially, making the choice to get involved is not just a matter of improving a child’s future. It is a matter of improving our community’s future prosperity.
In a community where only half of the black kids who enter our high schools come out with a diploma, we have a choice.
In a community where 20-25 percent of our 5-year-olds are not ready for kindergarten, we have a choice.
In a community that illustrates the link between low wages and educational attainment levels, we absolutely have a choice.
We can choose to spend an hour a day mentoring a kid, as the Youth Motivator program offers. Or make the commitment to become a Take Stock in Children mentor and help an at-risk kid earn a college scholarship.
We can choose to be a volunteer for ECARE and help every preschool child in Escambia County truly become a reader.
We can choose to help Warrington Middle School have a band or choral program because we value the spark that may nurture in kids who otherwise may be ambivalent about school.
Or we can choose to pay the price we have been paying for decades.
We can pay for what happens when communities don’t choose to support a culture of learning at every age and station.
We can pay with an economy that relies too heavily on service industry jobs that require few skills and pay low wages.
We can pay by watching generational poverty spiral because that happens in “those neighborhoods.”
We can pay with a crime rate that earns us a place on social-media fueled lists like ‘the most violent small cities in America.”
Dr. Rick Harper says the greatest economic development investment Pensacola can make is the investment in making sure we have literate, numerate 4-year-olds who show up to school eager and ready to learn.
He’s an economist and a PhD who spent the last two years on special assignment advising the Florida Senate on state economic policy. It’s his job to follow the data where it leads.
Who am I to argue with that?
To become a mentor, contact:
ECARE, Patty Vaillant, 433-6893, firstname.lastname@example.org
Youth Motivator Program Escambia County, Sally Bergosh, 469-5676, email@example.com
Take Stock in Children Escambia County, Sally Lee, 469-5458, firstname.lastname@example.org