- Faith & Family
A local non-profit held a summit at Miami-Dade College last week where dozens of school board officials, community residents and academic organizations discussed ideas and initiatives about improving south Florida’s school system. Catalyst Miami, formerly called Human Services Coalition (HSC), hosts several seasonal symposiums throughout the year where professionals come together and discuss various topics such as health, financial prosperity and civic engagement through its program Imagine Miami. This summer, the summit — Imagine an Educated Miami — focused on adult education, parent-to-student involvement and decreasing the high school dropout rate.
“Catalyst Miami does special networking with a twist; we call it civic networking,” said Lori Deus, community engagement director. The purpose is to connect with people who care about South Florida.
Seeking quality education
Catalyst Miami President Daniella Levine said the U.S. is no longer considered the ‘land of opportunity’ as youth no longer feel the ‘American dream’ is attainable.
“Individual educational success is necessary for overall community well-being,” Levine said. “It is now well-established that income inequality in itself undermines health, educational success and other indicators of a robust society. The very fact of inequality leads to greater stress and hopelessness — these are dysfunctions we are trying to cure.”
President and CEO of The Children’s Trust (TCT) Modesto E. Abety-Gutierrez, presented Read to Learn, a new multi-faceted literacy youth program. The centerpiece of the program is the Read to Learn Book Club that delivers a free, new book every month to 3-year-olds in the county.
“This is about teaching children to read and getting books to kids, but doing it in a way that crosses all barriers — in their homes, in child care centers, in physicians’ offices, in schools — and making it consistent through a coordinated program,” he said.
Fedrick Ingram, treasurer at the United Teachers of Dade (UTD), said he believes social services, such as health care and the issuance of social security cards and driver’s licenses, should be intertwined with the school system; he is also pushing for legislators to give parents a tax break to visit their child’s school once a month for hour-long meetings and activities.
“We need to give parents reasons and some incentives to get them on school campuses,” he said. “In our community folks need passports and instead of them having to go to some building for the general necessities, we want to try and make it a part of the schools so parents can have these services rendered — it’s just one more thing to enable the parents to better communicate with the schools.”
Former President of the Miami-Dade County Council Parent Teacher Association Carolyn Nelson-Goedert said the PTA has been promoting child advocacy through parents since 1897 when the Association was founded.
“Right now the PTA has just over 50,000 members,” she said. “But there are over 340,000 children in Dade County. Parents have got to be involved because an actively-engaged and empowered parent influences the level of achievement for their children.”
By Latoya Burgess