Paula Williams: Education issues are on our minds

Sep. 05, 2013 @ 05:59 PM

With the start of a new school year, the Internet and social media are abuzz with discussion of the hot topics in education.  There are certainly more issues than ever with which to deal in education today, but here is a look at just a few of the topics that matter.  Like it or not, these are just some of the issues that must be dealt with in the coming year.
The first and a sizzling hot topic particularly in North Carolina is school funding.  Will state politicians put aside partisan differences and have the courage to rethink education funding instead of balancing the budget on the backs of our children and teachers?
College and career readiness is also an important focus.  Guilford County Schools have made great strides in high school graduation rates in recent years.  However, a Harvard Graduate School of Education report found only 32 percent of high school graduates are academically prepared for college.  We must prepare our young people for life after high school and for post-graduate studies.
In light of the Carver High School shooting last Friday, guns in school continue to be a critical topic.  Training teachers and administrators to carry guns cannot be the most effective solution.  Students need to feel safe and important at each school and we have to nurture a culture of respect and responsibility.  Much more discussion on keeping schools safe is needed and cannot be neglected.
Testing remains a hot educational topic, and we are beginning to realize that one size does not fit all.  The knowledge and skills a student demonstrates over the course of a year is a much better indicator of progress and growth than one test.
The Common Core Standards, national standards for what students should know and be able to do, are changing the course of teaching in Guilford County.  We need to turn them into compelling instruction.
Teacher performance:  We need to look for ways to reward a job well done based on evidence of student learning and progress.
Perhaps most importantly, we must address inequality of education.  I think we have made great improvement in Guilford County in this regard, but there is still more to be done.  We have a moral responsibility to ensure that each and every student in our county, no matter where they live, has access to a meaningful education at a quality school.  Their futures and ours depend on it, and I think we are on our way to doing just that in Guilford County.  What could be more important?
Let’s hope this school year finds our state politicians return to viewing education with high priority.

Paula Gulledge Williams lives in High Point and teaches at Pilot Elementary School in Greensboro. Her columns appear on this page every other Friday. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.