Editorial: One way to help schools

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 5, 2007

This community is engaged in a healthy debate about improving education, in light of the Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ struggles with No Child Left Behind. Here’s something you can do without writing a letter to the editor, lobbying county commissioners or paying more taxes: Mentor a child.

The need for more parental involvement surfaces over and over in this discussion, and it’s not about supporting the PTA or providing snacks for teachers. The problem is even more basic than that. Active, motivated interest from parents is the missing link in some children’s lives, and that extends to their education. No one at home cares. So some children enter school unprepared and unlikely to get positive coaching at home.

They need someone to look up to, someone who can instill in them new hope and a desire to do better.

While the community searches for ways to inspire more parental involvement, the rest of us can take the starfish approach. Like the boy who saw thousands of starfish washed up on a beach and started throwing them back in, a citizen concerned about at-risk children can’t save them all, but he or she can make a big difference to at least one child.

Feel inadequate to the task? Communities in Schools, a United Way agency, is offering training this month for volunteer tutors and mentors. (Call 704-797-0210 for information.) The Rowan County Youth Services Bureau (704-633-5636, www.rowanysb.com) also needs more adult mentors and offers training.

Improving education requires communitywide action in ways both big and small. We may not have all the answers yet, but mentoring is definitely one of them.