The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

May 13, 2013

Our View: Keep learning

— Donna Maus, a biology teacher from St. Mary’s Colgan High School in Pittsburg, Kan., told a group of top students, their parents and their teachers something we think everyone needs to hear.

Maus, during the Globe’s All-Area Academic Excellence Team honor banquet, said she was a teacher for the same reason she thought others were in the profession.

“I teach not just to teach, but because I want to keep learning,” Maus told the audience.

Not all teachers are like Maus, though. And, not all students are like the 22 brilliant seniors the Globe honored. Nor are all parents like those who sat in that room; parents who value education and who are involved in their children’s schools.

But, they provide us one of the best examples of what schools are doing right. America’s success in educating its young people depends on the combined efforts of students, educators and parents.

But our education system also needs strong elected officials at the federal, state and local levels, if the system we know now is going to improve — or as Maus put it: “keep learning.”

Some good discussion about the implementation of Common Core curriculum standards in 45 states, including Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, is being held through a series of public meetings. Local school districts are gearing up for full implementation of Common Core standards by the 2014-15 academic year. Implementation of the standards also has garnered support in Missouri from more than 200 school districts, including Joplin, Webb City, Carl Junction, McDonald County, East Newton, Jasper, Lamar and Neosho; and 35 colleges and universities, including Crowder College and the School of Education at Missouri Southern State University.

The bipartisan effort to develop Common Core standards in reading, writing and math grew out of a National Governors Association initiative. Missouri’s Board of Education adopted them in 2010, and the state has been working with local districts to implement them ever since.

But, as with all changes, there are some with concerns, and then there are some who are spouting nonsense.

Missouri is one of 13 states that has legislative efforts to stop the implementation of the standards, although we think it is doubtful that will happen. As long as people continue talking about the need for standards that will challenge all students to keep learning, then we think we’re on the right path.

But, when paranoia and conspiracy theories enter into the discussions, as has been the case at the public meetings held across Missouri, that does nothing to further the cause of excellence in education.

We would urge legislators, school board members and district leadership to put politics aside and instead listen to the advice of great teachers and students. Education will only improve if we are willing to keep learning.

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