The Role of Education in Community Development

According to a recent report by CapRadio (formerly Capital Public Radio), an independent and nonprofit public media outlet serving the Sacramento area, the student population of Sacramento has become “significantly disengaged” since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The statistics reported by CapRadio are both staggering and troubling.  According to the report, approximately 2.25% of the 42,000 enrolled students are participating in class activities less than 40% of the time, as compared to 0.16% in December 2019, an astonishing and worrying increase in a little over a year.

My name is Steve Ly, and I am running for the District 5 seat on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.  As a former Mayor, City Council member, and School Board Trustee, I have worked tirelessly for the citizens of Sacramento, including a proven track record of prioritizing educational initiatives.

The fact of the matter is that school district quality is perhaps the single most critical factor in the economic growth and prosperity of a community.  It is perhaps the single most important factor home buyers consider when looking for a place to live, so we must prioritize the success of our schools in order to improve the futures of both our children and our communities.

The future of our district is dependent on the success of our schools and the success of our schools is dependent upon effective and inspirational teachers.  Every day, in classrooms across this district, hardworking teachers prepare our students to meet the challenges of tomorrow.  We need to improve the chances for our students by building a truly collaborative system for educator preparation – one that creates a positive school environment and provides educators with the tools they need to develop our children into happy and productive adults.

Better teachers mean better schools.  Better schools mean better students.  And we need to develop and cultivate high-performing students if we want our community to remain competitive and on the cutting edge of technological innovations.  We’re moving fast these days and we need to assure that our children are prepared and equipped to adapt to new technologies and new opportunities.  We need to set high standards and higher expectations for our kids.  If expectations are set high, our students’ performance will follow, and their progress will accelerate.

We need to establish strong leadership at all levels including principals, faculty, staff, and parents, and then establish a high level of communication and collaboration between all stakeholders.  We can accomplish far more as a team than we can accomplish by ourselves.

We need frequent progress monitoring in order to ensure each student’s needs are being met.  Schools that are successful offer a system of support to students who need extra help and when students experience a tangible progression, they are inevitably inspired to work harder, creating a looping cycle of academic improvement.

In terms of socio-economic parity, education is the great social equalizer, and access to free, high-quality schools will level the playing field for all children, including providing disadvantaged children with a generational chance to escape the cycle of poverty and remedy the inequality of opportunity.

And education does not necessarily have to mean a college curriculum.  Trade schools prepare you for a real career upon graduation.  Careers that demand specific training and skillsets, and careers that are currently in very high demand.  In these ever-evolving times, a trade school education offers graduates opportunities to land jobs with salaries that are very comparable to their peers who are graduating from four-year universities.

The education of a single child takes a village.  Successful school districts embrace this mentality of learning by leaning on family and community members to prioritize education within a community.  I would not have had the opportunities that I have today without the education levels that I have been fortunate enough to reach.  I am grateful to my family, friends and teachers who helped me achieve this success.  Every child deserves this opportunity.  Every child deserves the chance to learn how to think critically and enhance their creativity.  Education has the power to change lives and the prioritization of our children’s education is the single most urgent requirement of our time.

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