Responding to a need

Published 9:51 pm Monday, June 6, 2011

For most citizens, thoughts of the sad state of the American education system warrant only a shake of the head or click of the tongue.

Few ever think that perhaps they can make a difference. It doesn’t take sweeping changes at the federal level to make an impact on the educational system. All it takes is a community that cares.

That’s exactly what members of the local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority have been doing in Suffolk for nearly 30 years. The women are continuing their summer reading program this year at Booker T. Washington Elementary School.

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In the past, the program also has covered math, but the group chose to focus on reading this year. The program helps first- through fifth-grade students retain what they learned during the year and even progress in their studies during the summer, rather than fall behind.

It’s no secret that America is falling behind when it comes to academic studies. Students in foreign countries outperform the American student body in almost every area. Attempts to overhaul the educational system at the federal level have resulted in nothing but unfunded mandates.

But imagine if a group of citizens in every community across the nation cared to the extraordinary extent that local members of Alpha Kappa Alpha care.

The change that’s needed isn’t only at the federal level — it’s also at the local level. Community members who are concerned about the direction of education in this country need to step up and get involved in some appropriate way. It may be too late for some generations, but it’s never too late to make a difference for the generations to come.