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Originally published: 2014-05-05 11:23:05
Last modified: 2014-05-05 11:23:50

Our View: Education next

Dozens of local students were at Watauga High School early Saturday preparing to test their skills on what today amounts to a rite-of-passage - the SAT exam. 

For this group, mainly composed of seniors and juniors, the journey through our state's public school system is near the end. A future at a institution of higher education, a future for which they have prepared for a dozen years, is at hand.

As this generation passes through graduation, a new generation will rise in its place. This is the generation that our new schools' superintendent, Scott Elliott, will take in hand.

Yet this next group of student learners will differ from the last through changes and challenges not of their making.

New educational standards, commonly called the Common Core, will challenge educators and students in 44 states, including North Carolina. Many educators will embrace, or have already embraced, those curriculum changes - but many is not all.

Dramatic changes in teacher tenure and pay will affect, and are affecting, teacher retention - a particular problem in our border county.

Unsteady leadership resulting from three superintendents and two interim superintendents since 2008 means that no long-term vision or practice is in place to guide that next generation of students toward the highest level of success.

These, among others, are the challenges awaiting our new schools' chief Scott Elliott when he takes the helm on July 1.
 Yet, these are not challenges of which Elliott is unaware, and we are hopeful that with his experience and doctrinal training, the challenges will become true opportunities for student and district growth as Watauga County continues its statewide educational leadership.