School Readiness Plan

The Larry King Center (LKC) of the Council for Children’s Rights recently released a plan for improving school readiness for the children in Mecklenburg County. “Unlocking the Potential of a Community: The Plan for School Readiness” is based on data, research, and input from six action teams comprised of community leaders, agency directors, and parents of young children. These teams helped the LKC develop objectives and strategies for each step of the School Readiness Equation, part of the National School Readiness Initiative, a 17-state collaboration on school readiness. An implementation and accountability structure to monitor progress, including benchmark and long-term indicators, is also proposed.

The plan was developed in recognition of the importance of the first five years of life to the success of every individual. Children must be prepared to enter school on an equal footing with their peers if they are to flourish and succeed. LKC views the implementation of this plan as essential to reducing the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged children. Attacking the gap before kindergarten is expected to yield lifelong benefits to each child and enhance the quality of life available to the entire community through the ultimate reduction in the severity of issues such as teen pregnancy, crime, and welfare dependency.

As stated in the introduction to the report, “The plan is predicated on the belief that families, educators, systems, and the community are responsible for ensuring school success. When families are supported, educators are prepared, systems are responsive, and the community keeps young children as a priority, children will enter school ready to thrive.”

Findings from the study are presented in the Executive Summary and the entire report available here and at the CFCR website LKC has an ongoing collaboration with the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute as a databank partner in the Institute’s new Charlotte Regional Indicators Partners program, through which all data gathered for LKC will be updated continually and made available online to the public. This web portal will be accessible later this summer via both the CFCR website and the Institute’s new Charlotte Regional Indicators website, which will debut soon.

— Linda Shipley

Photograph by Nancy Pierce