Flickr user andylangager
In the wake of many headlines about local school funding, closure, and the running of schools in our community, Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling has strayed in the fray to help focus attention on the community's role in student education.
I, like many others, have been focusing on news stories about attendance zones, budget battles between County Council and the School Board, unfair state funding formulas and most recently fiscal autonomy, while we’ve ignored and failed to support dedicated hard working teachers by acknowledging many good things taking place in Beaufort County Schools and failing to help with the challenges our teachers and administrators face.
Last month I received and accepted my first invitation to visit a high school though I have attended events at Beaufort and Battery Creek High schools over the years.
The following are some observations which, if I am honest with myself, were pleasant surprises against the backdrop of apparent ill feelings about Beaufort Schools and particularly Battery Creek High.
The level of "adult" dialogue among student leaders, expressing their concerns, recommendations of priorities and how the principal responded to them as young adults who take their responsibility seriously was extraordinary.
The sense of order throughout the school of over 770 students during class changes where students moved throughout the vast hallways and, by the second bell, classroom doors were closed and teachers were conducting classes to attentive and seemingly engaged and well behaved students.
- Our schools are simply not broken.
- They need a strong injection of community support through OUR help and support.
If I had to diagnose the biggest challenge to "fixing" our schools, I would not focus on the hardworking teachers and their aides or those who train and oversee them.
Rather I would attend to parent absenteeism, as many parents are not preparing their children for school and failing to participate in their children's education, leaving an almost crippling burden on the teachers and likely handicapping families and students who are better prepared and supported by parents who can do so.