What Should Be Sought In The Next School Chief?

Eric The Younger posted a good discussion on Common Core, and that got me to thinking:  “what should we look for in Georgia’s next school chief?”  Common Core is the latest boogie man that seems to be haunting the dreams of conservatives across the nation.  I can understand that the standards have issues, but the state and local school boards, with a lot of input from parents, may be able to tweak it to fit the needs of that school system.  Some of the arguments are convincing, but the opponents start making weird arguments like how no longer teaching cursive is an attempt from the Left to prevent today’s children and future generations from reading our founding documents.  Really?  Give me a break…

Republican candidates are vying for your attention, so they obviously need to throw out the red meat.  State School Superintendent isn’t a sexy position like governor or even senator, so the candidates are already off to the side.  Furthermore, there are six candidates in the Republican primary, so they have to do *something* to get your attention.  Bring out the buckets of red meat!

I was at the Gwinnett County Republican breakfast this past Saturday and heard from various candidates.  Among those were Nancy Jester who is one of those candidates looking to lead Georgia’s public education system for the next 4 years.  Sure, she talked about the usual stuff that is very much ForTheChildren™ and hit the usual conservative talking points of more instruction time and less bureaucracy and less waste.  Of which, I agree with, but she seemed to strike more on how the Constitution and Bill of Rights should be taught over what Cesar Chavez did for labor.  I agree…to a point.  I certainly agree that kids need to learn about our history, how our Constitution was drafted, and why it is important to embrace, cherish, and defend liberty, but that’s not the end-all-be-all of our education system.  I didn’t get my conservative values from the Walker County School System or the University System of Georgia…I got that from my parents and upbringing.

In my humble opinion, I believe we need a state school chief to focus on things that matter: reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Ok, that’s too simple, but hopefully you understand what I mean.  Although civics and learning to be a good citizen are important, we need engineers, software developers, accountants, plumbers, architects, doctors, screenwriters, musicians, chefs, etc.  Science, technology, engineering, and math certainly should be a priority for our education system, but so should grammar and the arts.  We have tech companies, manufacturing, and a budding film industry that would benefit greatly from well-rounded, well-educated graduates from the Georgia public education system.

I believe crafting a standard (and by standard, I mean a set of knowledge that students should generally have by the time they graduate) that emphasizes the importance of a well-rounded education and one that teaches students how to research and learn on their own, it will be beneficial for Georgia in the future.  Leave the curriculum programming and implementation to the local school boards and parents since they should know what’s best for that area, and the parents should (hopefully) know what is best for their child.

I hope we don’t get caught up in emotion about the evils of one standard and check common sense at the door.  After all, Children Are Our Future™.