TOM WILLIAMS: Implement Leandro Action Plan to help student achievement, school performance

Posted July 6, 2020 5:00 a.m. EDT

Education Matters: Coronavirus

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is Tom Williams' "Final Word" from the July 4, 2020 broadcast of Education Matters - "Spotlight on N.C. Businesses Supporting Public Schools; Welcoming Forum's New Executive Director." Williams is chairman of the Public School Forum of North Carolina.

We’re all familiar with the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” During these incredibly challenging and unsettling times caused by COVID-19, this sage advice serves as a guidepost in helping ensure each child in North Carolina has a positive experience in re-entering their formal learning at the start of the the 20-21 school year.

Whether one serves in an elected leadership position at the state or local level, or as a business leader or community volunteer, the unique learning needs of our students and the needed support of their families across our state are as great today as any other time in recent history.

Whether our schools ultimately re-open in August as full-time face-to-face, hybrid face-to-face and remote learning or a totally remote learning scenario, the impact of COVID-19 for each of these plans will require significant adjustments and resources to work.

Without a doubt, as our state experienced in the last three months of this most recent school year, additional financial, human, and technical resources are essential in making certain every child has the opportunity to receive a sound basic education as guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution.

Gov. Roy Cooper, our General Assembly, State Board of Education, Department of Public Instruction and other state and local agencies have taken critical and timely action in allocating available federal and state funds to address such critical needs as student food insecurity, the inequities of access and availability to broadband, and technology resources for remote learning for our most disadvantaged communities and students.

The Leandro Action Plan as presented by the state defendants to Judge David Lee on June 15, 2020, and the additional $427 million it requires as a first step, presents our legislative leaders with the opportunity to advance our response to COVID-19 and for our state’s K through 12 public schools to emerge from this pandemic better positioned to meet the expectations for improved student achievement and school performance.

Business and community leaders are to be commended for their efforts to provide the much needed additional support, volunteers and resources in our local schools and communities. Their continued conversations with local superintendents, principals, education foundations, and related nonprofits throughout these summer months will go a long way in meeting the needs of our students as they re-enter school in August.

Our students are counting on all of us to do our part, let’s show them we are up to the challenge now and for years to come!

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