Letter to the Editor: Washington County public schools are alive, well

Stock image, St. George News
Barbara Beckstrom, St. George, Utah, date unknown | Photo courtesy of Barbara Beckstrom
Barbara Beckstrom, St. George, Utah, date unknown | Photo courtesy of Barbara Beckstrom

OPINION – Public education in the State of Utah and primarily in Washington County is alive and well.  The future of America is in our classrooms right now.  Our schools are based on best practices, community engagement, and the use of highly qualified teachers in the classrooms.

As a member of the Washington County School Board, I applaud the excellence that I see as I visit schools in this area.  As I visit individual classrooms, I am amazed at the hard-working people in each school who work tirelessly to see that each child is given an equal and quality education.

There are many amazing programs that are helping to make our schools progressive and exciting to our students who attend those schools and to our parents who support those schools.  

I see many of our schools with a dual immersion track or in the case of Dixie Sun, the entire student population, being taught and learning in either Spanish or Chinese.  Our students are engaged and being exposed to new experiences, cultures, and the languages of other civilizations in our world.  Research authenticates that the brain opens up with exposure to other languages and cultures and grows in multiple ways in the process.

I see a heavy emphasis in many of our schools with either STEM or STEAM education. STEM standing for a curriculum heavy in (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) or STEAM, a curriculum emphasizing the sciences and also introducing and teaching the Arts.  These schools are using a technology component that attracts and interests our students in exciting ways.     

There are many involved parents and volunteers who work in our schools and make them a much better place to be.  Teachers use best practices, old or new, and teach and excite students with the wonders of literacy and interacting in this fascinating world that we live in.  

Our secondary schools continue to offer many extracurricular activities for their students as well as an enriched education community where they demonstrate the universal belief of educators everywhere that every child can learn and succeed.  No child will be left behind or left out!  Our high school graduation rate in Washington County is nearing 90 percent.  Our administrators, teachers, and support staff work tirelessly to continue our upward tread and everyone who works in the school district would like see that number closer to 100 percent.  Good things are happening here.

As a retired educator and current member of the Washington County School Board, I applaud the great things that I see happening in our schools.  I believe that our students here in Washington County are receiving and will continue to receive a great quality education in our public schools and will be successful in their lives because of it.  

Submitted by Barbara Beckstrom, Santa Clara

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1 Comment

  • Brian April 30, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    When I started reading this I thought, “Are you running for office or something?”. Then I got to the second paragraph and read “As a member of the Washington County School Board”. So, yes. That being said, I generally agree we have great teachers in Utah. The problems increase as you go higher up the ladder to administrators and elected officials. I, too believe “that each child [should be] given an equal and quality education”. That should include those that are gifted and high achievers, but unfortunately often doesn’t. A disproportionately high amount of time, money, and effort is spent on those struggling, including those here illegally and who don’t speak English. While they deserve an education as well (and it is in societies best interest to see that they are educated, since there is a ridiculously high correlation between illiteracy and going to prison), it shouldn’t be at the expense of students that are gifted and talented. They deserve to be pushed, challenged, and inspired every bit as much as any other students. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. Instead they learn they can drift through, have busy work piled on, or are just bored to tears. That does them a huge disservice. These are the kids that will create the companies of tomorrow and find solutions to problems we’ve had for generations, and those we haven’t even thought of yet. As a parent, I applaud the teachers in our schools, but I’m also very thankful for Success Academy, DSU / Dixie Tech’s (for things like Code Camp), and 4H for the expanded opportunities they give my kids. The benefit and ROI are much higher there than at school, and the negative impacts are a lot lower, too. YMMV, but that has been our experience.

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