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Speaker encourages changes for local schools

A “cradle to college” educational pipeline is absolutely necessary for neighborhood revitalization, according to Carol R. Naughton, senior vice-president of Purpose Built Communities.
Naughton shared her experience revitalizing the East Lake neighborhood in Atlanta with local leaders at the Salisbury City retreat Wednesday.
“You can’t have a healthy and sustainable neighborhood without a healthy and sustainable public school,” she said.
When Naughton first began working to rebuild East Lake, the neighborhood was ridden with crime, extreme poverty, shoddy public housing and soaring unemployment rates.
With the establishment of Drew Charter School and rebuilt public housing, crime and unemployment rates plummeted and graduation rates have drastically risen.
The change was made possible largely through public-private partnerships, Naughton said.
“Investing in children is where you get your biggest bang for your buck,” she added, stressing the importance of early education.
Naughton also spent some time discussing the success of Drew and the advantages of charter schools.
Charter schools are given increased flexibility in exchange for increased accountability, she said. The schools receive government funding, but are not controlled by the local board of education.
Charter schools can choose their own principals and are able to make changes more quickly than traditional public schools. This allows them to be more responsive and tailor administration to that specific area’s needs.
Naughton addressed some of the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s weaknesses as well: just 30 percent of third-graders read at grade level and only 10 percent of low-income students at Salisbury High passed all their end of grade tests.
She encouraged city and school leaders to look for ways to improve the system.
“We’ve got to support schools and think of better ways to do things.”
Read more in Friday’s Salisbury Post.

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