"Yes We Can!" Group Announces Community Agreement

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Failure is not an option, but that shouldn't be much of a suprise coming from a group called "Yes We Can!" Members say they aim to improve public schools, which in turn would improve the city of Dothan as a whole.

After four months and 47 community meetings, leaders of the group organized everything they heard from the nearly 1,000 residents to create five target areas of improvement.

The target areas are as follows:

- Graduation for all: Ready for college, work, and life
- High expectations and accountability for home, school and community
- Parent responsibility and involvement
- Funding better schools to make a better Dothan
- Communication that informs, engages and reconnects.

Former Mobile County Superintendent Dr. Harold Dodge attended the Dothan City School Board meeting at Honeysuckle Middle School Monday. Dodge was part of a tremendous turnaround for his school system in just five years time when he implemented a similar program.

"Our numbers were abysmal, and were not where we wanted to be," Dr. Dodge said Monday. "Today if you look at Huntsville, Jefferson, and Birmingham, like districts and more wealthy districts; we have closed the gap better than anyone in Alabama."

Superintendent of Dothan City Schools, Dr. Sam Nichols says now that areas have been targeted it is time to be introspective.

"We take a real honest look at where we are," Nichols said. "We decide where we need to go, and what areas we need to focus on and what we need to focus on for improvement."

20 member teams will be assigned to each of the five target areas, and three 2-hour meetings are scheduled to discuss how to improve struggling aspects of public schools in Dothan.

School Board member Jimmy Addison says he hasn't seen this kind of large-scale grassroots effort in all his years in education. And he says it is needed.

"Our future in Dothan the city, for all of us, depends on these kids that come through these halls," Addison said.

Dr. Nichols says recommendation for action to take for improvements is expected at the first board meeting in January.

"Yes We Can!" is sponsoring a parental improvement summit at Northview High School Tuesday from 5-8 P.M.

Another one will be held at Dothan High next Tuesday at the same time.

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