Thirty years ago, Beloit’s leaders initiated the current renaissance by focusing on revitalizing the physical infrastructure of the city and its landscape. Who can deny that Beloit is now a more attractive place to live, work, and play than it was before its leaders agreed that “If we don’t do it for ourselves, no one else will?”
It’s time to do the same with our educational infrastructure. The pieces are all there.
Much attention has been focused on the School District of Beloit’s challenges, and not without reason: it’s 11 schools enroll over 7,000 of our community’s children. Yet it is not alone: School District of Beloit Turners has 4 schools (1,600); The Lincoln Academy (400, eventually growing to 700); Our Lady of Assumption and Rock County Christian (175 and 250, respectively); and let us not forget the robust homeschool community. The Beloit area enjoys a multiplicity of learning environments which allow parents and caregivers to pair each child to the environment that best fits their learning needs. While it is vital that each of these providers are strong and effective—with some healthy competitive tension between them—they are only one component of Beloit’s rich educational ecosystem.
We know that the first few years are vital for word acquisition and recognition, and that one of the best places to educate parents is at the hospital during their prenatal and pediatric visits. The Beloit Health System, Mercy Hospital, and Community Health Services have been early literacy partners in one way or another for years. Daycares also provide vital learning environments and often partner with educators to provide development opportunities to those in their care.
Agencies such as Head Start, Early Head Start, and Even Start all poke at the learning and development of both the children and their adults. For example.
And listing all the other organizations, agencies, funders, etc., that form a web or network of support for our kids as they move from birth to 20 (which puts them past graduation day and into college, military, or a job).
Nick Dimassis is Director of the Beloit Public Library.