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Newton School Editorial - 08/07/09

Schools are up and running in Newton County - a fact that still seems a bit odd at this time of year for those of us who grew up starting school after Labor Day. We may not all agree on when the school year should start, but we should all be on the same page when it comes to our attitude toward the importance of school and getting a good education. And that attitude starts with parents who should be committed to ensuring that their children attend school and do the required work to get ahead in life.

Yes, teachers play an essential role in motivating students to learn, but the ultimate responsibility lies with the parents. Parental involvement is critical in educational development. If the parent doesn't lead the child to study, show an interest in the student's work and lend a helping hand when a child or youth needs it to understand, that student loses an incredibly valuable resource and is in greater danger of falling behind - or worse - dropping out.

School systems have been innovative in developing programs to compensate for lack of parental involvement, and there's no doubt that those programs and mentors who volunteer to help out are tremendous assets.

But nothing can completely replace the bond between parent and child as far as caring and encouraging educational achievement. Given an opportunity to make their parents proud of them, children will simply try harder to reach a little higher.

The Newton County School System as a whole is working hard to ensure that all students receive the best possible education. The school system's high school graduation rate appears to be the best it's been in seven years. Numerous programs have been put in place to address learning problems in the earliest stages and to make it easier for students to complete their education even when circumstances make it difficult to do so.

Teachers can be a great influence. School counselors can be a wonderful asset. Mentors can be a powerful resource.

But nobody has the standing of mom or dad.

So, as this school year cranks up with all the anticipation and excitement that come with the opening of a new year, we hope every parent will make a commitment to get actively involved in his or her child's education.