Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Meeting was start, but more can be done

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Feb. 19, 2013 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 18, 2013 at 8:19 p.m.

The Victoria Independent School District is making a concerted effort to connect with the community. At a special communitywide meeting Feb. 11, seven committees reported on their progress as part of the district's focus on improving student attendance.

According to district spokeswoman Diane Boyett, more than 100 people attended the meeting, and many of those in attendance were people without a direct connection to VISD.

"It was good to see such a cross section of the community there," Boyett said. While many of the people at the meeting don't have children or grandchildren in VISD schools, they know the importance of providing a quality education.

We are glad so many members of the community attended this special meeting to focus on the problem of promoting attendance in VISD. By coming to this event, these people are expressing their support for Victoria's public school system while also sharing their concern and desire to improve the district's current attendance rate.

We think this is a good start in the effort to encourage more student attendance through community involvement. Now that the effort has begun, we encourage members of these committees and others in the community to keep the momentum going.

In the case of VISD, Boyett says the district plans to keep up the outreach effort and make sure community members and businesses know they don't have to have kids in school to help the district. Businesses can promote attendance by allowing parents time to take part in school-related functions, while companies that hire students can encourage their employees to do well in school. Businesses can also provide mentors, either as individuals or through the Victoria Business and Education Coalition, which does much of the recruiting for the Help One Student To Succeed (HOSTS) mentoring/tutoring program.

Boyett said there are already several efforts from businesses to help the district. Victoria College and University of Houston-Victoria students also take part in mentoring. Alcoa supports the district's career and technology program, the Dream Big STEM expo and other programs. Invista provides a wetlands hands-on outdoor lab experience where students can perform environmental experiments. These are just a few examples, in addition to job shadowing opportunities with industry partners and other businesses VISD students are able to profit from.

The key to increasing student attendance is to make school relevant and interesting. Many students who drop out believe they do not need what is taught in a classroom to survive real life. These programs are geared toward showing students what they can do with a proper education and how it relates to their future careers.

We encourage others to get involved in this process, whether that means taking part as a mentor, allowing students to shadow at a business or something as simple as taking the time to attend VISD events. We must find a way to equip the next generation of leaders, or we resign ourselves to a future of failure.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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