Editorial: As school year starts, let’s ensure every student succeeds

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, August 30, 2016

For thousands of children and teens in Rowan County, Monday was a momentous day — the start of a new school year.

For some, it’s sad to leave behind the blissful days of summer for a desk, hours of learning and homework. For others, it’s a time for friends who haven’t seen each other in months to reconnect. Parents likely also have mixed emotions, especially those who have a child starting school for the first time.

The year will come with a number of challenges for students. Tests, projects and various assignments await.

Parents, teachers and administrators will also face a number of challenges. In a few weeks, parents may find themselves helping a child complete math problems the parent hasn’t seen in years, decades even. Teachers are faced with the challenge of making learning enjoyable. From ensuring the school stays clean to educating students, administrators also play a vital role in educating students.

As we begin this school year, however, there’s one specific segment of Rowan County’s student population that faces more challenges than it should — children in poverty. An estimated 8,625 children live in poverty, according to the most recent statistics from NC Child. That’s 28 percent of the children in our county.

As they walked past students on Monday with new backpacks, new shoes and notebooks, these children may have shoes that were a bit worn. Maybe their clothes had a hole or two.  It’s possible that the school system will provide the only meals they will eat.

When a child’s focus is simply on surviving, it can be difficult to concentrate on learning.

Ensuring the 28 percent can devote their full attention to learning remains a problem that requires more attention than the school system can provide. It requires elected officials to devote every effort to providing a better life for families in poverty. County commissioners need to fund the school system at the highest possible level while also demanding results. In addition to their own, parents also need to care about the well-being of the child down the street.

It takes a community to raise a child, and, this year, let’s all devote our attention to ensuring that every child succeeds.