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Opinion Series: It Takes the Entire Village

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Dear Bladen County,

I have decided to write a series of short articles addressing our educational challenges in Bladen County.  The series will be called “It Takes the Entire Village”. The thought to write these short articles came to me when I realized that something has to be done to help bring our wonderful community together.  Bladen County has some really wonder, caring citizens.  Maybe these short articles will help in bringing the community together and increase the morale and confidence in our public education system.

We have far too many students not attending our public schools in Bladen County. I believe that number is close to 600 students who live in the county but attend private schools or home school.  I am not even sure we conduct exit interviews to try to address the “Why?”.

I hope you enjoy the articles from the viewpoint of the other side of the table.

Equity in Education

Let me start by simply saying majority do not rule when it comes to equity in education because that risks underserving a lot of students. Bladen County School district policy and instructional design should focus on raising the achievement of students at all socioeconomic levels.  This requires meeting the specific needs of individual students. No Child Left Behind has the right ideas and intentions. No child should be left behind by the public education system that is entrusted to make them better educated and productive members of society.  All available resources should be readily available for a pathway to a produce a quality public education. That requires all “stakeholders” to do their part. Now that’s a word you don’t hear too often nowadays.

Focusing on what separates us is easy because those are countless with no accountability. However, those of us who truly care about education will focus on what brings us together and hold us accountable. That accountability and focus really has to start from the top. If it does not start from the top then the message we receive is, ‘it is really not that important’, so it’s guaranteed to fizzle out at some point. While building quality schools and repairing roofs are important, they cannot and should not be the number one focus of our school district. We cannot be consumed with the beauty and constant discussions about bricks and mortar. Every minute we spend focused on things other than educating our students is a minute lost that we will never get back.

Education equity has to be the number one focal point. That’s our purpose, our mission, our vision and our rallying cry to bring us together.  Equity ensures “all” students have equal access and resources to achieve. It’s not focused on skin color or social economic status. It just happens to often fall along those lines. Let me explain. It’s true that we often commit additional resources to those less fortunate to try to increase student achievement but that do not mean we should not commit additional resources to those students who are economically stable or high achieving academically. Both groups of students deserve the same opportunity to be better. In reality, if you provide for one group of students and not provide for the other group of students, then that’s exactly what separates us.

Sometimes we have to stand up against our leaders to ensure every student has education equity when we as a school district are falling short of that mission. That takes forward thinking, vision and intestinal fortitude to do what is right even when it is not the most popular decision. Education equity cannot be about which group is more established or has the power of influence in the community because that only separates us even more. I believe all parents only want what is best for their child and that starts with a quality education and not necessarily trying to create an unfair advantage for their child, they just want equity, which is something our educators are required to provide to each and every

student. Let’s start doing better and coming together for increased equity in education for all our students. Equity in education is a great place to start because it allows us to focus on something that brings us together rather than separate us.

Trey Johnson

Related article:

Opinion Series: The Relationship with the Community Matters

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