Parents, educators and community leaders, I can’t think of a better time for schools to get a much needed influx of money then after Congress considers and makes decisions in the next few weeks about reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This is the federal government’s single largest funding pool for K-12 education. The bill represents the best opportunity to address not only poverty but to close the achievement gap and improve our schools for kids, educators and the community.
In our state, we need to improve academic outcomes of our lowest performing students in order to increase graduation rates and rise from having one of the lowest overall graduation rates in the nation. To improve we need to address poverty. A disadvantaged child with a toothache and one who is hungry is not going to care about academics. The best teachers and most gifted school leaders are not equipped and do not have the time to eliminate pain or hunger, and yet their job may depend on these at-risk student’s academic performance.
Organizations that provide research-based integrated student support services, also known as wraparound services, aggressively obtain and harness community resources to effectively blunt the impact of poverty on students. Expanding ways that schools can spend federal funds on wraparound services will give teachers more time to focus on academics instead of common challenges that affect a poor child’s ability to learn such as hunger, health and dental care, inadequate clothing and home learning environment.
Moreover, an education law that enables and encourages our principals and superintendents to provide wraparound services will give them the resources, permission and flexibility to do what they know will work.
I’m privileged to partner with some great leaders who appreciate our work and would like to see the expansion of research-based wraparound services. Washington shouldn’t dictate what these local leaders must do, but an effective education bill should incentivize what they can do to make the biggest difference. We hope that the President and Congress will listen to the concerns of educators and explicitly enable them to provide more student integrated support (wraparound services). It could be a win-win for school districts, parents and legislators who want to improve on local efficiencies and graduation rates. Now is the time – we cannot wait any longer.
Please click on the Take Action on ESEA link below to support us, today. It takes less than a minute to complete the form, which generates an automatic letter to Georgia’s congressional delegates.