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.