Let's Position Kids For Success
- Ensure K-12 Success-According to a 2007 Journal of American Psychology study the old adage that reading is fundamental still holds true. The longitudinal study looked at 36,000 preschoolers and tracked them all the way to high school. The takeaway is that Reading and Math skills are the best predictors of school success from Kindergarten to High School even if the child has social and emotional problems. That is why I support pre-K for every child. Let's set a goal to get all of our children reading before Kindergarten and keep them reading at a high level thereafter.
- Ensure College and Trade School Success- According to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics the courses students take in high school do predict college and trade school success. In fact, students that take a specific mix of courses are three times more likely to earn a four-year degree (BLS 1997). Further, students that take these courses and choose not to go to college earn more than their counterparts even after adjusting for other factors (BLS 1997). What is this special mix of courses? Math. The more Math our students take the more money they will make for the rest of their life. We can position our kids for success by encouraging all kids to finish Algebra I prior to High School and encouraging all High School students to finish Calculus.
- Reduce unemployment for life- According to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics there are courses that hedge students against unemployment for life. No surprise again, it's Math. In fact, students that complete ALgebra II are 50% more likely to be employed than their counterparts (BLS 1997). Hampton Roads boasts 151,490 STEM jobs, as reported by the VA Pilot in 2013. Those STEM jobs pay well. In fact they pay an average of $63K per year according to Brookings Institute report in 2013. The critical enabler of those jobs is Math which is the gateway to science, technology, and engineering. That's why I'm advocating Math across the curriculum in our schools. Emphasis on Math sets our kids up for success.
Let's Identify And Cultivate The Talents of Students
- Celebrate our kids- Extra-curricular activities help students get into college. Extra-curricular activities with a high-level of achievement make those activities stand out to colleges. Students that are able to participate in state or national-level competitions make an impact on their college application. As a community we can and should support national competitions. Let's cheer on our own children in national math, writing, reading, and other academic events. Competitions make learning fun; build community pride; and allow kids to master skills they might otherwise not gain in the classroom. That's why I'm advocating school-wide participation in the Virginia FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition, Virginia Math League, National History Day, etc.
Let's Engage Families
- Greater information sharing- Almost every study I've read advocates for greater parental involvement in our schools. However, getting parents engaged and involved will require increased information sharing and communication with the schools. I think that parents want to know at a minimum what their child learned in a given day, what homework they were assigned, what the homework assignment addresses, and when it's due. Beyond the daily concerns I believe that parents want to know what help is available given their child's age, which activities and programs will benefit their child given the child's current progress in various subjects. The ParentExpress app developed by NNPS is a good first start at centralizing and standardizing this information for families. However, I think we have room for improvement to make all of the relevant information available to parents on demand.