Access to high quality education is the right of every West Virginian. This education should, as much as possible, lead to economic opportunity in our local communities and the state. That education should also prepare our children to participate in democratic and civic life as responsible citizens who are active participants in setting directions for policies that affect their lives. The people of West Virginia should expect this as citizens in the 21st Century.
To realize this vision, policy decisions must be made in ways that value local voice and participation and link those to the broader needs of West Virginia as a state. At its core, this means engaging in policy formulation, implementation, and refinement grounded in Appalachian culture and rural perspectives.
As West Virginians, we face unique challenges and opportunities providing our citizens access to this high quality public education. Even when that access is available, the state faces parallel challenges in ensuring that its citizens have economic opportunity that allow them to stay home in West Virginia. As educators and education stakeholders, we want to prepare our students to find economic success, while knowing that within the current state economy, they may face limited employment options upon completion of their education.
Appalachia has long been a region subjected to outside criticism, harshly imposed scrutiny, and well-intended but sometimes misguided solutions to chronic problems. But, if solutions to problems and opportunities could be grounded in the contexts and conditions out of which they emerge, public education may be more of a beacon, and the economy more about opportunity and less about limits. This alternative picture would require that we illuminate local and regional issues, and amplify the voices of those who live with the challenges and opportunities.
To better position itself as an engaged partner to meet these challenges and create opportunity, Fairmont State University announces the creation of The Center for Education in Appalachia. This education policy center has been created to help link problem-solving strategies and resources between the local and state stakeholders to serve West Virginia’s children, families, and their communities through sound policy initiatives.
The Center for Education in Appalachia
- Is committed to supporting public education that leads to economic opportunity in West Virginia and across Appalachia;
Attempts to build networks and partnerships between people and organizations committed to education in West Virginia and the Appalachian region;
Serves as an information resource to state educational policy making efforts in West Virginia with a special focus on its unique rural, Appalachian context;
Facilitates effort to push up issues and working models from local communities and to generate knowledge so that state policy initiatives will be effective when implemented within local communities.