"Our children are the future we may never see."
My parents believed this when they helped me with homework and taught me the importance of education in leading a purposeful and successful life.
I believed it when I encouraged my own kids to study hard and be prepared to live a meaningful life. I'm sure you believe "our children are the future" when you look at your own children.
Well-educated children who are prepared to face the challenges that life presents will be essential to our society in the future.
Shouldn't all children have the opportunity to learn and grow through the best education we can provide? I've been an educator for more than 50 years and I believe this now more than ever. I also believe it's a community's collective responsibility to provide our children with the educational opportunities needed to succeed and have lives with purpose.
But with limited financial resources, what can a community do? As mayor, I'm proposing the Pleasant Hill Education Initiative, a multiyear communitywide volunteer endeavor to enhance the quality of education for our students.
Its goal is simple -- to better prepare our children for college, career and life through enhanced educational opportunities. I'm hoping we can also raise high school graduation rates and make learning more fun.
The city of Pleasant Hill will play a significant role in this endeavor, led by our Education Commission. Our Recreation & Park District will also play a major role through its Senior Center and Teen Council.
The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is a critical player. I'm pleased that Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven Lawrence and our local principals have already endorsed the initiative. Parent groups and teachers are also essential in its success.
This communitywide effort will engage our local foundations, the Pleasant Hill Library, and our local institutions of higher learning.
To be successful, we must engage our business community through our chamber of commerce and other local and regional businesses and organizations. We will also need the support of our local newspapers and websites.
What kind of programs could the initiative organize and develop? Here are just a few examples. By involving the entire community in this volunteer effort to enhance the education of our children, we can provide hundreds of hours of tutoring in the classroom and after school.
An active mentoring program could be established where businesspeople, professional and trades people provide young people with opportunities to learn about various career options.
We could organize forums, workshops and summits that teach the critical skills needed for success. Talented volunteers could establish after-school workshops to provide our children with opportunities in music, the arts, theater, reading, math and science. (I can help with the math and science, but my musical and artistic talents are extremely limited. My wife would say they're totally nonexistent.)
Each of us has strengths and talents we can use to enrich the lives of young people. The seniors in our community have much to offer our children through their rich and varied experiences.
Our neighbors at Diablo Valley College and John F. Kennedy University have programs that train teachers and others who could mentor high school and middle school children.
Our library could hold after-school and evening workshops to help children learn the importance of math and science. I attended one such workshop last year where young inventors showed off homemade remote-controlled cars and launched paper rockets. It was a wonderful learning experience and great fun to boot!
The first step is to form a steering committee, which will organize and develop the various programs. I hope the steering committee can begin its work this month, and have its first programs launched in the fall.
So here's my challenge to you: Will you be part of this vital communitywide volunteer effort? If so, please go to the city's website (www.pleasant-hill.net/phei) and indicate that you'd like to become one of our hundreds of volunteers. You can make a difference with as little as one hour a week.
Remember, it's our responsibility to provide our children with the tools they need for success. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said: "We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future."
When we do this, we'll make our city and the world better today and in the future. I hope you will join me in this effort. Our kids are counting on you.
Harris is the mayor of Pleasant Hill. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.