If the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school systems’s new leader wanted a challenge, she’s got it.
State education officials released a list last week that included eight schools in our system — the most of any district in the state — that need to improve their academic performances over the next few years or risk being turned over to an outside group.
This puts all of our educators — and everyone in the community — on notice: improvement is necessary, and quick.
“The schools include Philo-Hill Magnet Academy with a school performance grade of 25 out of a possible 100, based on last year’s test scores; Kimberley Park Elementary, 32; Ibraham Elementary, 33; Ashley Academy, 34; Easton Elementary School, 36; Old Town Elementary, 39; and Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy, 39,” The Journal’s Fran Daniel reported Saturday.
These eight schools rate low in an improvement program called the 2019 N.C. Innovative School District. The ISD’s approach is to “identify and target barriers to student growth — both inside and outside the classroom — and design strategies and processes to eliminate or mitigate these barriers,” according to David Prickett, communications and strategy manager for the N.C. Innovative School District.
The news is disturbing. We need strong, successful schools to prepare the kind of citizens we need to move the City of Arts and Innovation into a successful future — schools with strong academic, technological, STEM and literacy standards that are readily transmitted to their students.
Instead, many of our schools have struggled to produce third-graders who can read on their age level.
There’s little consolation in knowing that other systems are not far behind: Nash-Rocky Mount has seven low-performing schools on the list; Guilford County also has seven.
And there’s little consolation in listing the many challenges that our students face, including insufficient funding and food insecurity.
We need solutions.
In comments to the Journal last week, School Superintendent Angela P. Hairston (who started in September) expressed her commitment to working with all of the schools and calling on all available resources, including community members.
“Conversations are underway about ways we can partner to provide each school with unique, specialized services that will help students and families,” she said. She said she would work closely with classroom teachers to make sure they have the right support in place.
“This is a call to our faith-based community and our business community to partner with the schools that have been identified to do as much as they can to support children,” Hairston said. “This is our future here.”
She’ll find many community members ready to help, through organizations like the United Way, Project Impact and Bookmarks — or as individuals, through a few hours of mentoring each week.
She added that she and the members of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education are not ones for making excuses. The community should also avoid making excuses; it’s time for all hands on deck. If you’re reading this and think you might be able to help, you’re most likely right.
For volunteer information, go online to: https://www.wsfcs.k12.nc.us/domain/74