“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”
The Tooele County School District is an enormous institution. According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, it’s the largest employer in the county (1,000-1,999 employees), with a $174 million 2019-20 fiscal year budget. It’s also an enormous institution with a big responsibility:
To provide a quality public school education for our children.
Such is a complex task that takes an orchestration of people and ideas akin to putting a man or a woman on Mars. But based on results, the school district is doing a good job — yet with room for improvement.
The most recently available performance evaluations (from 2017) by the state Board of Education show that the majority of the district’s 24 schools are rated as “typical,” which is defined as meets expectations or adequate. Stansbury Elementary is the lone standout district school with an “exemplary” rating, with the other being Excelsior Academy, a charter school. Exemplary means exceeds expectations and outstanding to the state school board.
But this editorial is not to review and comment on the mechanicals of providing quality education that sticks and results in strong test scores. Performance evaluations are vital, but perhaps the ultimate measurement of academic value will always reside within the humanity factor of teaching, that special bond between student and teacher which sparks a desire to learn — hopefully for a lifetime. Those who have experienced such indelible insight with a teacher know this point well. Many are eternally grateful for it, too.
That special bond comes to mind as approximately 16,000 students, 800 teachers and countless professional support staff went back to the classroom Monday to start the 2019-20 school year. And this bond — to reach out, connect and transform lives through the gift of learning — we encourage all local educators to aspire to and uphold.
All of which is a big responsibility that dedicated and enthusiastic teachers gladly accept and fulfill in the classroom every day. For such teachers know that education is more than learning how to read and write and add and subtract. It’s about empowerment, self-esteem and replacing an “empty mind with an open one” as the late Malcolm Forbes, the American entrepreneur and magazine publisher, reportedly once said.
And by having an open mind, the optics through which a student views himself or herself, others and the world can be broadened like the chasm of the Grand Canyon. In turn, greater levels of understanding and empathy can be attained in how the world works and how life can be improved.
Indeed, tomorrow’s future — and the very health of our nation’s democracy and liberty — is in the minds, hearts and hands of today’s children. How well they shape that future may be strongly influenced by how well they learn in the classroom.
The above quote from Albert Einstein is witty, and it is well known that he disliked school. But he could have said more: The education that remains is likely the result of a teacher’s good work.