CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Everybody tends to agree more needs to be done to improve education. The debate is over how to accomplish those goals. The West Virginia Education Alliance is an organization which tries to turn words into action by getting everybody who has a stake in education to get involved.

For years the Alliance has helped facilitate partnerships between private business and individual schools. The new President and CEO believes it’s time to take the program to the next level.

“Successful schools have to have partners and that’s our goal in the Education Alliance,” said Amelia Courts. “That’s our goal is to bring those partners to the table.”

Businesses have a huge stake in the state’s public education system. Their future employees are currently being trained in those schools and they’ll need them to be fully functional upon graduation.

“People are really open to the idea we should change the model in different ways,” said Alliance Board Member Ralph Baxter. “The challenge we face is agreeing on what’s the best other approach.”

Courts said she likes some of the conversations currently going on about changing the approach and focusing in on the key areas of struggle. The most glaring to her is pre-K.

“So much of the impact of poverty occurs in those first five years,” said Courts. “What kinds of early learning opportunities are we going to have to have those kids reading by 3rd grade. We have to take those first five years seriously.”

Among the traditional programs put forward by the Alliance are mentoring services provided by the private sector to school.

“We had 93 percent of our students we served last year in those mentoring programs said they greatly benefited from that adult role model,” said Courts. “They also said they had a better picture of their career future.”

It’s one of the programs the Alliance would like to keep in place and enhance as they move forward under Courts’ leadership.

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  • Tim McClung

    The Education Alliance is stuck between a rock and a hard place. They are trying to bring change within the system and not rock the boat. I hope that the new Exec. Director opts to rock the boat and focus only on students and teachers and forget about national assessments, common core and state and federal mandates. And speaks out strongly against pre-K-3 testing mania and bring back some joy in learning.

  • Anne Greer

    Oh, let's just have the businesses design the curricula -- and then, no worries, fire the kids when they can't adapt because all they've been taught is this narrow thing you need for work.

  • Leo

    Bless you Jt. I have been saying that for years. Instead of this soft furry way of teaching and discipline, or lack thereof, we need to get back to the basics in that regard also. I was able to learn in a classroom where discipline was king, trouble is we have let the parents and kids rule for so long that I am not so sure we can get control back. Might step on someone's toes and they will sue.

  • Jt

    I am normally not a backward thinking person, but in this case a hard look at restoring REAL discipline is the first step, you can talk and discuss all you want, even teachers need to take a look back and get back to the basics of education. Lesson 1 = repeat after me Yes sir, no sir, yes ma'am , no ma'am.

  • longbeards

    Roger D,,I agree with you! Common sense left education a long time ago. The new hiring system is a joke, as WV Worker stated. Nepitism will reign supreme under it@!

  • wvu999

    Until the vast majority of educational dollars get away from admin salaries and special ed the educational system is doomed to fail.

  • RogerD

    The previous education initiatives of the past 40 years have brought us to this point. Perhaps we need some common sense local initiatives for a change. Of course we need to rid ourselves of federal influence on the school systems that have eroded the quality of education since at least 1970. You can go ahead and question me, leftist. I saw it happen as a classroom teacher.

  • WV Worker

    Let's make a blue ribbon committee to study this problem. Oh wait, we did that already (and hired a person at $300 something a day to write the report up to the tune of about $50,000) and made it possible for the buddy systems to be formed so all teachers are buddies with the principals or you don't get hired. Let the teachers teach and cut some of the paper work out.

  • Dale

    Talk, talk, talk, talk talk...WV still at the bottom or next to bottom in most all (negative) areas of education!