Three Charleston public schools are getting a $300,000 grant from the state board of education to help them reduce the number of dropouts and increase the number of students who graduate.
Good for the selected schools, and even better for the kids who will get extra guidance to help them progress through Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary, Stonewall Jackson Middle and Capital High schools.
One of six grants awarded statewide, the local grant is a partnership between the Kanawha County school system and the Charleston Community and Family Development Corporation. They developed a "comprehensive continuum of services that follows individuals from birth through adulthood to systematically improve the educational, social, emotional, physical and cultural outcomes of youth," according to the school system's grant application.
Capital High has the county's lowest graduation rate, at 57 percent, while more than 93 percent of students at Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary come from low-income families.
While many drop-out prevention programs target high school students, experienced educators say they can tell by third grade which kids are most likely to drop out, so targeting kids so young is a good move.
This sounds like a great effort, but in praising the program, Gayle Manchin exposed the irony of our state's overregulated public education system.
"Innovation zones are allowing our schools to adapt to changing times and embrace new ideas and new teaching strategies," the state school board president said. "They also give our schools greater flexibility and allow them to create learning facilities that reflect how children live and learn today and in the future."
Shouldn't all schools be innovation zones that adapt to changing times and embrace new ideas and teaching strategies? Don't all schools need greater flexibility to allow them to create learning facilities that reflect how children live and learn?
The education efficiency audit conducted by Public Works LLC said West Virginia has one of the most highly centralized and impermeable education systems in the country. No other state is so highly regulated in code, the audit stated.
The innovation zone idea is only a baby step. West Virginia has more than 730 primary and secondary schools. They shouldn't each need to complete a detailed application and be awarded a special grant to be allowed to be innovative and flexible.