Children’s Issues at the Forefront as A+ Joins VOICES at Regional Meeting in Montgomery

A+ joined an important discussion about issues facing Alabama’s children – past and present – at the Montgomery regional meeting of VOICES for Alabama’s Children Nov. 15.

voices-aplusalaThomas Rains, VP of Operations and Policy, took part in a panel discussion that included Jannah Bailey, executive director of Child Protect, Children’s Advocacy Center, Jim Carnes, policy director at Alabama Arise, and Dr. Catherine Woods, President of the Alabama chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The panel addressed issues of safety, economic security, education and health, with the focus on challenges facing children and the effects policy has on them. Rains noted a couple of policy wins for the state’s children with the expansion of high-quality, state-funded First Class pre-k and raising expectations for children by implementing the College and Career Ready Standards for math and English Language Arts. Additionally, the creation of a State Longitudinal Data System (an ongoing process) will help Alabama determine how to be more effective with education funds by investing in what’s working for students.

The biggest challenge for children is poverty and how we treat it. Often, poverty is seen as an insurmountable obstacle, and as a result, our education system does not do enough to pull students out of poverty. This leads to low expectations for students and perpetuates a “fixed mindset” instead of a “growth mindset,” Rains said, referring to the work of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. By fully implementing the College and Career Ready Standards, and designing lessons, curricula, and even schools, to meet the needs of students where they are, the obstacles can be overcome and all of Alabama’s children can succeed.

The panel’s comments began a discussion among attendees about the best ways to help children in the areas discussed—education, health, safety, and economic security—as VOICES develops its agenda for 2017.