There is a lot of discussion these days about how to improve our education system -- the conversation is definitely happening here locally, it's going on at the state level, and it's a national concern as well. I found this recent piece in The Atlantic very interesting because it highlights a different path that has led to educational success in Finland: a focus on giving "every child . .
Jennifer Heath's blog
It's hard to carve out time to go to conferences. I know the value of listening to and learning from others, but, like many others in non-profits, the days feel so full of "must do right now" work, that it feels indulgent to spend a day at a conferece. On September 30, I'm glad I made the time. I spent the day with others from across CT who are applying Results Based Accountability (RBA) to their work.
We all have summer memories from when we were kids. One of my enduring summer memories is swimming at our local pool. I spent lots of hours playing in the water and practicing with the swim team.
Unfortunately, for some children, their summer memories may not be such happy ones. For many low-income children, summer is a time of being hungry and undernourished because when school is closed for the summer, they donʼt have access to healthy, reliable meals like the ones they receive at school during the school year. Across Connecticut, 127,000 children go to bed hungry each night; only 25% of the children who are eligible for free and reduced price meals receive summer meals. We know intuitively, and research conﬁrms, that hunger and poor nutrition have a negative impact on childrenʼs academic achievement, physical health and mental health.
Which is why I am so proud to be a leader in the effort to get the New Haven Food Truck on the road this summer. The Food Truck, made possible by United Way, will be able to serve up to 1000 meals a day to New Haven children and youth. In turn, that good food will help them be healthy, grow strong bodies, and keep their brains “turned on” for academic excellence.
On March 23, United Way of Greater New Haven (UWGNH) hosted a forum for non-profit organizations to share information about Boost! and to get their input about how Boost! should be designed. The Mayor and Superintendent both shared their vision about what New Haven young people need, the school change initiative, and how providing coordinated services to young people and their families through our vibrant non-profit sector is a vital component of the overall effort to promote student learning. UWGNH CEO Jack Healy explained why United Way was involved in this work, and how it would help address the educational disparity that emerged from a regional needs assessment several years ago as one of the region's top priorities. We also heard from three non-profit leaders about some of the experiences they have had working with the schools to meet the needs of young people.
Thomas Friedman's column in the NY Times today highlights the inescapable link between high-quality education and the ability to compete economically. I agree with his overall message -- that in order to succeed in today's economy, our youth will need not only good reading, writing, and math skills, but they that will also have to learn how to think creatively, critically, and innovatively. However, I don't think we should assume that all of this responsibility falls on the schools. To do so leaves out lots of other
United Way of Greater New Haven is working to address the disparities in economic well-being and educational achievement in our region. A recent report by McKinsey&Company highlights the economic costs of the achievement gap in this country. The report illustrates how costly the current achievement gap is (between the U.S. and other countries, and among different student groups within the U.S.) both for our nation as a whole and for the children who do not reach their full potential.