Merced County Times Newspaper
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Photos by Dylan McMullen/MCOE

MCOE Unveils Annual Report on Our Schools

New Focus on Early Education

• Of the seven high school districts in the county, all of them are achieving a graduation rate far and above the state average. Their combined average is 89.1 percent, compared to the state’s 83.8 percent.

• 72 percent of Merced County students are identified as “Hispanic.” Statewide, the percentage of Hispanics are listed at 54 percent.

• There are 25,000 children in Merced County that range in age from birth to 5.

• According to an upward mobility study by the New York Times, students who attended Merced College will have a significant increase in their lifetime earning potential. They were ranked 83 out of 690 colleges, nearly the top 10 percent of all colleges nationally in terms of changes to their income.
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The Merced County Office of Education unveiled the 2017 Merced County Schools Annual Education Report during a luncheon event at Yosemite Church in Merced.

The report is sponsored by Stifel, a municipal finance group, Educational Employees Credit Union, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union and Travis Credit Union, and details student demographics and achievements, collaborations and best practices. Additionally, the report focuses on Early Education in Merced County.

More than 250 people attended the event, where Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen discussed student demographics and challenges county educators face, along with updates on Camp Green Meadows, the Virginia Smith Trust, school attendance, literacy initiatives, and partnering with community organizations.

“The public school is still the place where we teach our children what it means to be citizens,” Tietjen said, “and that is why it’s so important to continue to have a locally elected school board that is responsive to the values and aspirations of its community.”

Tietjen also had a moment of silence for the mass shooting tragedy at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Merced College Superintendent/President Chris Vitelli spoke about the college’s Child Development Program and how students have an opportunity to learn with hands-on training. He also talked about the role Merced College plays in workforce development.

“Education not only transforms lives, it transforms a community,” Vitelli told the audience. “It’s because of our programs, such as the Child Development program, that we change lives. And it’s because of the partnerships with the community, such as the partnership with the Merced County Office of Education, that we collectively have a rippling affect on this community.”

MCOE Assistant Superintendent of Early Education Christie Hendricks talked about brain development in young children and outlined the many child care options in Merced County. “The experiences and interactions during the first years of a child’s life are critical for brain development,” Hendricks pointed out. “A child’s brain reaches 80 percent of its adult size by age 3.”

She also discussed the return on investment of high quality early education, especially for low-income families, and the statistic: “$13 for every $1 invested.”

Also, Carrie O’Bara, 2017 Merced County Teacher of the Year, gave an emotional presentation about her time as a teacher and what it means to her.

And students from Stoneridge Christian Preschool performed “Everyone Shakes a Hand” and “Rise and Shine.”

To view the report online go to this address: https://issuu.com/mercedcountyofficeofeducation/docs/2017-annual-report2

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