Editorial: Steep climb for Rowan

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2011

The Rowan-Salisbury School Systemís leaders were far from alone in being disappointed with preliminary No Child Left Behind results for 2010-11. Only five of 35 Rowan schools made adequate yearly progress on standardized tests, while six of Cabarrusí 37 reached the goal. None of Kannapolisí eight schools made AYP.
The story was the same across the state. Tougher performance standards brought down results in virtually every school system.
Our schools are striving toward those higher standards, but that will take time. Meanwhile, the schools and the community need to keep working to raise the local graduation rate, and to spur young people on to college ó for the studentsí own good and for the community. The relatively low level of education in Rowan County is holding the community down.
This is not a school problem, or not solely a school problem. Our lower than average percentage of high school and college graduates is the result of history, culture and income. Thatís not an excuse; itís a challenge.
The U.S. Census shows that during 2005-2009, some 78.9 percent of Rowanís adult population had a high school diploma ó below the state rate of 83 percent and the rate in other counties of the prosperous Piedmont. Some 85 percent of Cabarrus residents graduated from high school, for example.The difference is even greater when counting people with a four-year college degree or higher ó 16.4 percent in Rowan, 22.2 percent in Cabarrus, 25.8 percent statewide.
Knowing that we have steep hills to climb, Rowan leaders and citizens should be especially interested in the local effort to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the schools ó STEM, as itís called. A meeting of the Cabarrus-Rowan Stem Initiative will take place Wednesday at Rowan-Cabarrus Communityís Collegeís building at the N.C. Research Campus.
And in a different type of initiative, shoppers can help promote graduation by taking advantage of some Proctor & Gamble coupons appearing in many newspapers today, including the Post. Partnering with Communities in Schools, P&G will give 2 cents for every coupon redeemed to help at-risk students and their families.
Helping more students graduate from high school and college, regardless of their parentsí education, is one of the best ways to move Rowan from the fringe of prosperity to the center. Jobs and incomes will follow. Teachers, tests and schools canít make that happen alone. It has to be a community effort.