Education necessary for freedom, state superintendent says

Poetry and vision filled the Logan School District Board of Education meeting Tuesday night as State Superintendent of Public Instruction Larry Shumway presented “Promises to Keep: The vision and mission of Utah Public Education.”Promises to Keep creates specific visions and goals for the Utah public education system, which was “created in the state constitution to ‘secure and perpetuate’ freedom,” the document states. Education ensures freedom of the people in many ways, Shumway said, such as providing a path to financial freedom and allowing the public to better participate in civic dialogue. Shumway said the name of this mission statement comes from Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” quoting Frost and stating the Board of Education has “promises to keep/ and miles to go before I sleep.”What drew Shumway to work in education, he said, is the “sense we have this promise to keep to our students, this sense of commitment between generations.”The vision and mission statement includes the concepts that the community needs to be involved in public education and that public education must provide high quality instruction for the children. To run Utah’s schools for the state’s 600,000 students in public education, one hour of teaching time costs $3.5 million. Classroom time is important, and therefore should be used efficiently. There is “a magic and an art” to teaching, Shumway said, and teachers must create an effective curriculum that students can learn from. The vision of public education includes instilling strong moral and social values into future generations. Public schools are where most start learning important morals and behaviors, Shumway said. “We learned to wait in line. We learned not to steal the others kid’s lunch,” he said. Success in schools can be measured by the children’s literacy, including reading and numeracy. Shumway said success in other programs, from activities to athletics, can’t compensate for a failure to teach the kids literacy. Promises to Keep is a document that all Utah public education administrators, teachers and support staff should use as a “lens through which you judge your courses of action, that you judge your decisions.” The full document can be found at www.schools.utah.gov. – rachel@cvdaily.com

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