Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin recently signed legislation approving $85 million in emergency funding to help the many West Virginians impacted by recent devastating floods. The state dollars helped meet a required “match” by the federal government for receiving FEMA funding.
The “match” shows that West Virginia is willing to make a short-term sacrifice in order to access the nearly $300 million dollars in long-term resources for our state.
Beyond the recent flooding, West Virginia is currently facing a barrage of other challenges such as the decline of jobs, the state budget crisis and the unprecedented rise of substance abuse.
By investing in education, we are literally taking a “match” approach to our future.
Research shows that decreasing the number of high school dropouts nationally by half would produce $45 billion per year in net economic benefit to society.
Graduating from high school improves the quality of health, reduces dependence on public health programs by 60 percent and cuts by six times the rate of alcohol abuse.
Teachers and principals across the state are working daily to develop our most vital resource, our children. They need help from every sector of the state to “match” their efforts and help them do more.
How could we strengthen our investment in education? Communities, families and faith-based leaders can work together to mentor and support at-risk students to ensure they attend school ... on time, every day.
State and local government leaders can collaborate to establish policies that support local flexibility and celebrate classroom innovation.
Businesses and philanthropic partners can provide guidance and resources to prepare our students for tomorrow’s workplace.
To help facilitate this, The Education Alliance will host a summit in Charleston on Oct. 17 titled “Excellence in Education: It’s Everyone’s Business.” The Summit will focus on “future-forward learning.”
Nationally-known speakers, including Elizabeth Slavitt of the Khan Academy, will highlight some of the positive disruptors in education and key drivers of future change. Panelists will showcase examples of innovation from Ohio, Florida and Iowa.
West Virginians have a long history of meeting challenges by rolling up our sleeves and working together in time of need. By rallying our resources, and investing both our time and talent in education, we can positively impact the next generation of students to propel our state on a future forward pathway.
Amelia Courts is president and CEO
of The Education Alliance.