By Corey A. Jackson
The Rialto School District must stop doing the same old things and adopt a Bolder way we prepare our students. All of the studies that have been done on preparing our students suggest that we must not only focus on the classroom, but we must also focus on a broader areas that reaches into the lives of our students such as health, high-quality preschool, after-school, and summer programs.
Rialto Schools and the City must work together to make sure that health, safety, education, and positive attitudes are a part of our children's lives not matter where they are.
I propose five (5) actions that will truly make sure that our children not only graduate, but they are successful and able to compete with the best in the world.
1. We must continue to improve our schools. Research says that small class sizes in the early grades are very important. Rialto must continue to expand small class sizes. Rialto schools must also hire and keep the best teachers possible. If we want our children to be the best, they must be taught by the best. However, we must also find the teachers who are not doing their jobs and get rid of them.
1. A Rialto diploma must mean something. We must get to the point where a Rialto diploma certifies that our children are qualified and ready to go to college as well as prepared to get a job beyond the minimum-wage.
1. Preschool must be available to all of our children whether parents or guardians can afford it or not. Every Rialto child should start first grade ready and able to learn. All of the research shows that children who go to a high-quality preschool will be better prepared for reading and math. They are also more likely to graduate from college, and make enough money to live a comfortable life.
1. Keeping our children healthy must be a priority. Families must have access to doctors and nurses. We must establish full-service health clinics in our schools so that our children aren't missing school or unable to learn due to preventable illnesses. Rialto parents are often unable to take time from work for preventive and other health care services.
1. We must pay more attention to the time students spend out of school. A body of research has shown that much of the achievement gap is rooted in what occurs outside of formal schooling. Students aren't loosing ground in the classroom. Where they lose ground is in their lack of participation in learning activities during after-school hours and summer vacations. Rialto schools and the City must increase and maintain investments in areas such as longer school days, after-school and summer programs, and school-to-work programs with demonstrated track records.
Not all of these actions are a popular thing to do, but they must be done to ensure we are doing all that we can to prepare our children. The increasingly inter-connected world of the 21st Century places a premium on the preparation of all of our children to take their place as effective workers, citizens, and family members.
Rialto has a decision to make. We can continue to pursue education strategies that focus on schools alone and on narrow, test-based accountability-and be satisfied with the modest improvements. Or we can be BOLD by being ambitious and adopt a new and expanded strategy with the capacity to improve student achievement.
I CHOSE THE LATER.
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