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Winston-Salem Journal: Education-Reform Efforts

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - March 25, 2013 - Scaling back or postponing education reforms aimed at improving the performance of our most vulnerable students is not an option. While we will feel the effects of sequestration, we have to be proactive and creative about how the Winston-Salem community can work together to improve and expand on successful education-reform efforts, even in an uncertain fiscal environment. One sustainable solution lies in partnerships that expand schools' capacity to serve students with excellence.

Last summer, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools formed such a partnership with a nonprofit organization, BELL, to expand learning time for 1,000 struggling students. The school district provided part of the funding for the initiative, while BELL contributed funding from local and national foundations and corporations. The end result: a more robust summer learning experience, for more students, than we could have served working alone. Most importantly, the partnership produced significant results, as test scores at the end of the summer show that participating students boosted their literacy skills by 6 percent and math skills by 7 percent.

This year, the school board unanimously approved a loftier goal: to expand learning time for 1,500 students. And the Winston-Salem philanthropic community is stepping up to make it happen. This week, Reynolds American Foundation made a grant to help cover the gap for the summer learning initiative. This sort of public-private partnership must become the norm if we are to keep up the progress and deliver the educational opportunities our children need and deserve.

JANE D. GOINS

CHAIRMAN, WINSTON-SALEM/FORSYTH COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD

Winston-Salem

TIFFANY GUEYE

CEO, BUILDING EDUCATED LEADERS FOR LIFE

Dorchester, Mass.

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