Pastors go to Tallahassee to promote education

CLEWISTON — Faith Advocacy Week for Public Education was held at the Capitol in Tallahassee last week. Clewiston resident Gwen Patrick Griffiths accompanied the Pastors for Florida Children, a group of ministers who are focused on making sure every child in Florida an excellent education.

Ms. Griffiths, a retired science teacher with many years of experience, is well-known for her lifelong focus on education. She believes that improving our schools and creating a skilled and educated workforce is key to our state’s economic health. She said that in order to build the economy of the future, and attract lasting jobs that pay well, Florida needs an educated workforce.

“I truly believe that the future of our children and the future of Florida depends on their education. Children, especially the ones growing up in a rural county like ours, need us to focus and provide them with the best education possible,” said Ms. Griffiths. During their visit to the Capitol, they raised their voices in support of bills that will fully fund early childhood education, increase per pupil spending across the state, establish meaningful uniform standards for measuring student progress in all schools, and to provide substantial money to pay both educators, and those who support them, fair salaries and wages. They worked in teams of two advocates, with one team going to the House and another team going to the Senate throughout the week. As soon as they knew which bills survived the House and Senate subcommittees, they were able to target those legislators who would have the greatest impact on public education for years to come.

Ms. Griffiths said an innovative idea, with possibly endless positive impacts for our community, is the idea that we can and should strive to learn new things from the moment we are born until we die, calling it “education from the nursery to the nursing home.” While children are born ready to learn, and develop many skills through learning over many years, even as adults and seniors, continuing to learn new things helps to stave off brain diseases and memory loss.

She explained the newest research says that the notion that seniors have less flexibility in their brains is wrong. Flexibility, or plasticity, is how the brain absorbs new information, and that is how we form knowledge. The assumption has always been that an older brain lacks plasticity, and as seniors learning is basically over. Researchers have found, however, during study of brains of all ages, that plasticity occurs in every stage, which enabled the all generations to learn new things.

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