Community is planting the seeds for better education

Published 6:29 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

Early childhood education is not something you can fix overnight. Giving kids their best chances to succeed takes hard work, research, evaluation and re-evaluation, a willingness to admit when something isn’t working … and patience.

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Lots and lots of patience.

Even if you could wave a magic wand and create a perfect educational system for every child from birth to kindergarten tomorrow, you wouldn’t see the real results until a couple decades later. That’s a lot of patience.

Since we are without a magic wand, we must instead improve things one step at a time.

Steps along the way — like the total of $90,000 in early education grants earned by the Danville and Boyle County school systems this year — are hugely important and drops in the bucket at the same time.

The grant funding is a seed: It’s a relatively tiny thing, but if it’s planted in fertile ground, it could grow into a tree thousands of times larger.

We think Boyle County’s residents have already demonstrated they’re capable of tackling problems that require patience, research, compassion and hard work. They’ve demonstrated it in how they have reacted to the opioid epidemic harming so many families across the nation.

Boyle County is way ahead of the curve and in some ways on the cutting edge when it comes to not only public policy, but community support for innovative, impactful responses to drug addiction. Boyle Countians are united in their pursuit of realistic, sustainable solutions that get real results, even if it takes years or decades to get there.

Consider just a few of the ideas and ideals that have overwhelming support from every corner of Boyle County, but which other communities have yet to comprehend:

• jail alone cannot be a long-term solution for drug addiction;

• people in jail now will eventually be our neighbors again;

• addiction affects people of every social and economic class;

• rehabilitating and habilitating people who suffer from drug addiction is fiscally and morally better than shunning them;

• recovery is not something that just happens once — most people will fail multiple times first.

We already have a quiver full of anecdotal success stories from programs such as Shepherd’s House, the jail’s substance abuse program, Hope Network and the courts. But the real results — less crime, less addiction, more employable people and a happier, healthier population — won’t arrive for a while. Nonetheless, Boyle County residents of every persuasion understand the end goal and how we plan to get there, and they’ve bought in.

If Boyle County can successfully embrace drug policies and programs that will take decades to fully pay off, then we can also successfully embrace educational policies and programs that require the same level of patience.

We’re excited to see what Danville and Boyle County can do about early childhood education, and we’re willing to wait to see the results.