Monday, September 13, 2010

First Day of School

Today I dropped off my 3 year old to Pre-Kindergarten. In addition to the milestone this is for her and our family, this event, with its excitement and anticipation also afforded me the opportunity to reflect on my own experience of the public education system - from a very early age - and how fundamental parental involvement is to the success of young children and young adults.

I was fortunate to have the support of my family - both immediate and extended family members were very involved in my education - and to have the benefit of participating in one of the strongest primary school systems in the country. I am certain that such involvement had a significant impact on my overall ability to take full advantage of what school had to offer.

In New York - and other large cities throughout the country, hundreds of thousands of young people may not have the same kind of support - for a variety of reasons - and as such, while this lack of support is not the only contributing factor, we know that in New York City alone, more than 33% of students are behind grade level by the time they are in the 6th grade. More than 45% do not graduate high school on time, and nearly a quarter do not graduate at all.

So part of our challenge - in the education and youth workforce development systems - is not simply to create stronger programs to achieve better outcomes, but to foster programs that can help engage parents, extended family, or other primary people that can offer constancy, support, and love so that the public education system can do its job to greater effect.

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