MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN: Getting Education Right from the Beginning

10/23/2013, 3 p.m.
Under now-retired superintendent Jerry Weast, Montgomery County earned national recognition for achieving the highest student graduation rate among the nation’s ...
Marian Wright Edelman (Courtesy of childrensdefense.org)

Eventually parents, educators, business leaders, and even students themselves were all on the same page about where they wanted the county’s children to be.

"We all worked together as a team, kind of like the old game of Tug the Rope. We all got on the same rope, and we all pulled,“ Weast stated. “The success that Montgomery had was due in a major part to listening to the Montgomery County employees, the Montgomery County parents, and putting it in a particular perspective [so] people could see that we weren’t doing this just to be do-gooders, but it was an economic imperative. It was an imperative to bring jobs into the community. It was an imperative to help those who are here and who are about to come.”

It’s a strategy for getting it right right from the start that has had great results for Montgomery County’s children. As Superintendent Weast emphasized, what Montgomery County has done could and should be happening all across the nation.

“Everything that we did could actually easily be replicated anywhere in the country,” he said. “All you have to do is learn to work together. All you have to do is ask under what conditions can we get these outcomes. All you have to do is to quit talking about it and start doing it, because if you start doing it, you will learn from your mistakes … We have to do this, and it’s going to take every one of us pulling together.”

Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.