Columbus Municipal School District Interim Superintendent Edna McGill talks with a rotary club member after speaking to the group at Lion Hills on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by: Mary Alice Weeks/Dispatch Staff
April 9, 2014 10:24:03 AM
Columbus Municipal School Superintendent Edna McGill used Tuesday's speaking engagement at the Columbus Rotary Club to talk about the state of transition before the district as well as clear up some misconceptions about Common Core.
"We are in one of the greatest changes in education that I can ever remember," she said. "With new evaluation systems for teachers, new evaluation systems for principal and Common Core State Standards. There are a lot of rumors about Common Core state standards. Common Core State Standards is not a national curriculum. It is not mandated by the government. It was developed by the Governor's Association and the some of the educational organizations. States could choose to go into and utilize Common Core. Mississippi is one of the states that did. 45 others did as well."
Addressing one of the rumors that Common Core teachers elementary students about sex education, McGill said, "Nowhere in there does it say you will teach third graders about sex education. It just isn't there."
While Common Core does provide a set of standards, the ultimate decision on what will be taught in the classroom lies with the district.
It's up to local districts to select the materials and the curriculum," McGill said. "It's up to us to decide what materials we'll use. It's not up to the government or anybody else. It's up to us so we still have control over what we teach our children and we teach them through those standards. It just helps us be on the same page and be assessed the same way as everybody else in the nation so we can compare where we really are instead of like it is now where we have our own test and maybe Kentucky has their own test. It just standardizes the way we're assessed so from that perspective I do support Common Core.
In addition to implementing Common Core, McGill said she hopes the district will focus more on teaching technical skills.
"Looking ahead, we want to have a vision," she said. "We want to be set apart and set up higher than districts anywhere around. We want to be a STEM district, a district that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math because we know that in this area particularly, many of the manufacturing jobs that are going to be available in the future center around those areas so we want to prepare our children to be ready to go on to work or to go to college.
"It's been far too long that we have made children who don't go to college feel badly, that they are less than perfect students or less than perfect citizens because they don't go to college. Not all children are college material. That's just a fact, but all children can go on to be productive citizens if we provide them the appropriate pathway."
McGill said the district has submitted a$7 million grant request to the U.S. Department of Labor in hopes of becoming a STEM district. She expects a decision on the grant funding in the coming weeks.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.