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Communication Plays A Key Role in Childhood Development in Waco

May 25, 2010

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2009 McLennan County Childhood Quality of Life Index Study

In the coming days, thousands of area students will graduate high school, dealing with all of the decisions, challenges, and changes commiserate with that step. In the coming months, a new batch of four and five-year-olds will begin to fill some of their slots in the school systems, with their high school graduation looming in 2024. They'll be among those who will benefit from the information gleaned in the study of the quality of life for children aged zero to five in the county that examines how the community provides resources that ready those children to learn. Dr. Peter Smith of the Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition oversaw the study, something he has done in many other cities beyond Waco. He said that the best intentions don't work unless the effort is concerted.

Dr. Smith said that "silo effect"--different stakeholder groups staying in their own silos and not engaging with other community groups--has served to paralyze more than one city's efforts for real change. Area leaders knew of this from the beginning, and encouraged groups at the inaugural Greater Waco Education Summit two years ago to get out of their silos and engage. Dr. Smith said McLennan County has managed to avoid that silo mentality, aiding it has it goes forward.

The alliance contains far more than just educators. The business community, health care professionals, religious leaders, media members, and more are all intentionally a part. Dr. Cynthia Hernandez of Baylor University specializes in childhood reading development. She shared an example of a partnership that is a goal of those involved in the project to benefit area children.

Ashley Allison is the director of the Waco Foundation, who commissioned Dr. Smith and the Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition to conduct the quality of life study. As the summer months begin, educators and community leaders are already thinking about November's education summit. And they're looking to build partnerships among organizations that will keep them out of their silos, using data gleaned in the study as their guide.

Waco NPR 103.3 will continue to focus on issues related to the education alliance and the quality of life study throughout the summer heading into the new school year. You can see the study at your website, www.kwbu.org/childstudy. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.

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