Are we failing to prepare children for success?

Are We Failing to Prepare Children for Success?

Greater Saint John Business Leaders are calling upon the Government of New Brunswick and all party candidates to help improve education outcomes in Saint John.

  • 22% of Saint John children are not achieving Grade 2 literacy standards (NB Dept. of Education and Early Childhood), yet Early Literacy is fundamental to school and life success.

  • 50% of high school students living in Saint John’s low income neighbourhoods do not graduate within 4 years. (Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative)

  • 28% of children (aged 0 to 17 years) live in poverty in Saint John. (Statistics Canada)

Investing public resources in new ways to improve education outcomes delivers proven returns on investment, now and in the future. Investment in childhood education yields a prepared and ready workforce; builds strong, stable communities; and significantly reduces government costs caused by lifelong poverty.

A child’s education is the most powerful predictor of their success in life. Such success is what leads to an educated and ready workforce, which is essential for communities to thrive. For this reason and more, educational achievement for every child is a Saint John priority.

The consequences for students who do not succeed in school are devastating. The impacts are life long and hurt the entire community and province –socially and economically. In Saint John, the root of the problem lies in the significant Education Achievement Gap, for which low income children are especially vulnerable.

Global research is compelling and tells us that the Education Achievement Gap begins during the earliest years of life and has a devastating cumulative effect, which, without extra help, continues to grow as a child falls further behind each year in school. This is unacceptable, unnecessary and fixable!

We can and must nurture the talents of every child to ensure their educational achievements, from cradle to career.

Over the past decade, Greater Saint John businesses, community organizations and volunteers have partnered with schools, the School District and Department of Education to help low- income parents enrich their child’s education – both in and out of school. Working together, we have achieved amazing success in developing and implementing real, measurable solutions. One telling result: The students who live in Saint John’s low income neighbourhoods have increased their early literacy scores by 24% compared to the district average of 6% (2009-2014).

The Early Learning CentrePALS (Partners Assisting Local Schools)ELF (Early Literacy Friends)P.R.O. Kids, the Teen Resource CentreFirst StepsPromise Partnership and En Route to Success are some examples of Saint John’s commitment to helping children succeed, from cradle to career. As a community, together, we are paving the way for brighter futures for many vulnerable students.

Saint John has proven solutions, but we need the help of the Government of New Brunswick to sustain and expand this work. A sense of urgency is needed and we must refuse to fail – because in failing, we are failing our children, and the future of our city and province.

Greater Saint John Business Leaders implore our elected officials, all political parties and government staff across departments, to make education — from early learning to high school completion — a provincial priority and help Saint John scale up our solutions to close the education achievement gap.

Specifically, BCAPI wants the Government of New Brunswick and all parties and candidates to acknowledge the serious Education Achievement Gap that exists in Saint John, particularly for low-income children and their families; and to:

  1. Actively agree to work with Saint John to close the Education Achievement Gap for children who are struggling and their schools and neighbourhoods that require extra resources.

  2. Make early childhood education and early literacy an immediate priority.

  3. Achieve ambitious targets, measure progress and publicly communicate results to ensure transparency and accountability.

    • Within 2 years, we want 90% of our children achieving Grade 2 literacy standards, including those who live in low income neighbourhoods

    • Within 5 years, we want 90% of our students graduating from high school, including those who live in low income neighbourhoods.

  4. Make Saint John the province’s Research & Development Centre to produce the most effective and efficient means to close the Education Achievement Gap for all of New Brunswick.

BCAPI is calling on all Greater Saint John residents to join us in asking every candidate in the upcoming provincial election how they will help our community close the Education Achievement Gap.

The BCAPI Leadership Group:

Bill Gale (Founder) • Tom Gribbons (Chair) • Gary Lawson (Past Chair) • John Adams • Brice Belyea • Lino Celeste • Nancy Creamer-Ervin • Roxanne Fairweather • Charlie Harling • Paulette Hicks • Gregor Hope • J.K. Irving • Robert MacKinnon • Blair Northcott • Derek Oland • Gerry Pond • Christian Richard • Sheri Somerville • Bob Vincent • John Wheatley • Steve Whitters

Katie Bowden