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Your Opinion: Be civil in education debate

Your Opinion: Be civil in education debate

December 11th, 2012 by Geraldean McMillin, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

For quite some time the Jefferson City School District has realized that our current high school cannot meet future needs of our increasing student population.

Thus the school board and administration began an intensive research and planning program to find the best way to meet the challenge. Over 150 hard-working, dedicated people spent 18 months traveling beyond home base gathering information that eventually led to another year of a series of ongoing, informative local meetings and surveys that revealed three possible solutions. Recently, the district has chosen an almost unanimous choice of building one new school with seven academies.

It is safe to say that everyone affected by our public schools is in complete agreement with the district's goal to do whatever will be best for our students. That is not to say that everyone will agree on every choice, which prompts me to write this letter.

Differences of opinion should not be seen as a reason to start a fight.

Because no choice is going to be perfect, I must learn by listening to other points of view before I decide what I think will be best for our children. There will never be a more important time than this for civil discourse. To express ourselves with an angry hateful dialogue is to cloud the issue and may well result in choices that will not bring about the best for our students. Civility encourages others to listen and perhaps even to consider other ways of thinking.

There are still many things I need to know before I can make a final decision. In a previous letter I have already declared my enthusiasm for the academy approach to teaching, but there is much yet for me to learn about how other important things like extracurricular activities will be affected.

As a retired economics teacher I am also very interested in the cost of different choices, how our local economy will be impacted. I want to know more about district's plans to offer contracts to local contractors who will in turn create many badly needed jobs.

In the long run we can all win if we remember: become informed; be civil; express only constructive input; and make choices based on what is best for our students not on our personal wants.