The San Marcos Activity Center was filled with members from around the community for the San Marcos Early Childhood Summit yesterday. Dr. Michelle Pope, Presidential Fellow at Texas State University and facilitator of the summit opened by saying that she hoped the information and discussion would help “make equitable educational opportunities for all San Marcos children.”Pope explained that nearly 20% of the San Marcos population over the age of 25 does not have a high school diploma. According to materials handed out, the top three challenges facing the San Marcos are growth, poverty and educational attainment of all San Marcos residents.
While the focus of the summit was education, every speaker pointed to family and community relationships as the highest areas of importance in early childhood development. Donna Hill, community leader and former chair of the Chamber of Commerce questioned “Are all school aged children learning morals and values at home? Are they doing chores? Are they involved in extra curricular activities?” Dr. Newlyn Moore, Distinguished Alumni and former faculty member at Texas State University said, “We forget how powerful and enduring the touchstone of family is in our life. It is a lifetime affair and affects not only you but all adult relationships you will form.”
The strong family relationships that are necessary seem to be hindered by the low income level many families in San Marcos have. Kim Porterfield, Councilwoman and Community Relations Director at Texas State University said that the early childhood attention and education that children need is hindered by low income, ” Data reveals that we are one of the poorest communities in Hays county. Many of the problems we discussed at this summit are rooted in poverty and we need get to the point where the focus off of money related issues, and placed on the kids” said Porterfield.
The summit credited other groups working toward improvement of San Marcos’ school system, E3 (Education Equals Economics) Alliance and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s P-16 San Marcos council.
By REAGAN PUGH