Kudos for businesses helping schools

April 15, 1999|By Nancy Grasmick

NATIONSBANK recently made a $250,000 commitment to "Shaping Tomorrow," a program designed to improve children's health and increase parental involvement in Baltimore's public schools.

WJZ-TV has committed an equally impressive amount of manpower and technical resources essential to this endeavor's success. These businesses -- long-time supporters of education through the Maryland Business Roundtable -- are to be applauded for their vision and continuous dedication to public education.

By supporting "Shaping Tomorrow," these corporate citizens will help more people become involved in our schools -- something that's fundamental to every successful educational system.

Schools have our children for six hours a day, which is simply not enough time to produce knowledgeable, skilled graduates.

Children need reinforcement and encouragement that extends beyond the classroom. Parents, volunteers and businesses must pick up where schools leave off.

Such people can instill in children a respect for the power and influence of education. Children must be told the hard reality: The quality of their education directly affects, even predicts, their future success.

Hopkins program

"Shaping Tomorrow" will allow two Baltimore schools -- Westport Elementary/Middle School and Lakeland Elementary/Middle School -- to receive targeted assistance from well-proven programs from Johns Hopkins University and the Harvard School of Public Health.

They will receive mentoring, participate in drug abuse prevention programs and may join Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Maryland.

These offerings will create significant, positive change in the climate and academic performance of these schools. The program will also launch a comprehensive outreach effort, providing parents and other community members practical strategies for enhancing children's academic achievement.

With the significant commitments from NationsBank and WJZ-TV, the outreach potential of "Shaping Tomorrow" has increased exponentially. This collaborative effort, which also includes Baltimore schools and the Maryland State Department of Education, is a precedent-setting initiative, which may become a model for the state.

Also, I commend another forward-looking company -- Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. -- for awarding $1.3 million in early childhood development grants to seven organizations last year.

I challenge businesses that are not actively supporting public schools to re-examine their investments, to weigh the short-term costs of support against the future returns of effective, skilled employees. What greater asset can we have than a work force of able, educated citizens?

Nancy Grasmick is state superintendent of schools.

Pub Date: 4/15/99

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