Our goal must be best schools possible

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Sikeston Public School system is at a bit of a crossroads for a number of reasons. This is no secret. But to their great credit, the school system has received a message from parents and teachers and has started a program to rebuild confidence in the system and improvements for classroom learning.

Let me state the obvious - a quality school system with engaged students and educators is a basic foundation for any community.

Sikeston has long had a reputation of quality education though there has always been and will always be room for improvement.

But the controversial introduction of the Common Core concept of teaching has divided our community and the overwhelming defeat of a recent bond issue brought some serious questions concerning the future direction of our schools.

To address these divisions, the school system sought outside help in improving communication with parents.

And despite those who question the cost of this outside help, it marks an important first step in a community discussion that is perhaps long overdue.

The school system included a copy of their R-6 newsletter in this week's Standard Democrat in an attempt to reach out to the community and better improve communication with the parents, students and taxpayers of this district.

The newsletter is just one of many outreach efforts that will be implemented to better tell the story of our schools and engage the public in our mutual interests.

As Board President Deke Lape put it in the newsletter, there is a disconnect between the community and the school system and many parents particularly feel they have no involvement in the decision-making process.

The first step in the solution to these problems is the simple recognition that a problem does exist. The second step - which is slowly unfolding - is to make substantial efforts to resolve this disconnect.

Schools hold a unique place in our society. We entrust the teachers and administrators to protect and guide our most precious commodity - our children and grandchildren.

But as you would expect, we as parents or simply as taxpayers, want to be assured that quality education is a common goal. And we want our voices heard when we have concerns about any aspect of the education process.

Let me say one thing about those who serve on our School Board. These unpaid volunteers give countless hours and take ample criticism for their service. It is often thankless and rewarding at the same time.

As a community we can criticize or second guess their decisions but we need to cease the personal criticism that has erupted because of differing viewpoints.

Those who spend endless hours criticizing have the very same opportunity to put their name on a School Board election ballot and trade places at the table.

The future of our school system does not rest solely in the hands of the School Board nor the administration. That future depends on the engaged citizens whose goal is singular - to make our schools the very best possible learning environment for the students.


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