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Springfield School Committee candidate

LaTonia Monroe Naylor calls for focus on high school

graduation rates to enhance public safety

LaTonia Monroe Naylor, a candidate for Springfield School Committee, is seen in file photo. Naylor is calling for expanded efforts to improve high school graduation rates and the ties to improved public safety.
LaTonia Monroe Naylor, a candidate for Springfield School Committee, is seen in file photo. Naylor is calling for expanded efforts to improve high school graduation rates and the ties to improved public safety.(File Photo / The Republican)
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SPRINGFIELD — In the aftermath of recent violence in Springfield, School Committee candidate LaTonia Monroe Naylor is calling for expanded efforts to improve high school graduation rates and its ties to public safety.

“Although these are new findings on the subject, it is not a new topic,” Naylor said, in a prepared release. “Most violent crimes are committed by people that have not graduated from high school.”

Naylor is a candidate in the at-large race on the School Committee.

Naylor, while citing her first-hand observations, also referred to a report on the issue released by the Justice Policy Institute of Washington, DC. She said the study supported some ideals she has come to believe through her work at the United Way and in youth development.

Among the most relevant findings, Naylor said, were:

  • States who invested more in education saw improvements in public safety;
  • States with higher educational attainment also have lower crimes;
  • A 5 percent increase in the male high school graduation rates would save Massachusetts more than $59 million that is currently spent on crime-related expenses.

“The most upsetting findings supports the reality that there are higher risks of violent crime rates, low educational attainment, and incarceration in communities of color due to educational opportunity barriers,” Naylor said.

Naylor added that she wants to do more than help students graduate. She said she also wants students to graduate workforce and college ready.

Naylor said she has already been part of this process while working on the Stay in School Initiative (a partnership of the United Way of Pioneer Valley and Springfield Public Schools that target chronic absenteeism).

Naylor said she believes that students must desire to attend school to stay and learn.

One of her proposals is to increase of community partnerships and supports to supplement unfunded or underfunded enrichment programming.

“This a key to getting all students excited about attending school again and likely participating in after school programming.” Naylor said “There are best practices being done at schools like Duggan, Gerena, and Putnam that are working. Let’s not reinvent the wheel and keep experimenting with our children. Let’s replicate what works to ensure that all students want to go to school every day, are receiving a world-class education when they get there, and ready to work or attend college afterward.”