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02.13.2015

Mrs. Ivy

Let me talk about the importance of education.

One of the keys to a good education is a dedicated teacher. The right teacher makes a difference in your life every day — long after you’ve left the classroom.

In my life, I was lucky enough to have such a teacher. Her name was Jane Ivy. Mrs. Ivy taught algebra at Springdale High School back when I wasn’t very interested in algebra. I can’t say I’m a whole lot more interested in it now, though I do understand its importance. Studying a subject like algebra sharpens and disciplines a young mind.

When I was a student, growing up in the Sixties, I didn’t get that. I just knew that I wasn’t doing well in algebra. Well, when I tried to give up on math, Mrs. Ivy refused to give up on me.

I think about her often. I think about what she taught me — not just about math but about sticking with something when it was really hard.

Great teachers change lives. But teachers need the freedom to become great. Too many changing rules and regulations can handcuff the abilities of teachers to do their job, to have a lasting impact on those lives.

I know that teachers have had to adjust the most to the requirements of Common Core standards, and I know it’s not been easy.

During the campaign, I promised that we would study the effects of Common Core on education in Arkansas. On Wednesday, I announced the Governor’s Council on Common Core Review.

This 16-member Council will be chaired by Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin; it will be comprised of educators, parents, business leaders, and students from across the state. We are looking for Arkansans who share our commitment to high educational standards, but we are looking for those who will bring an open mind to the table.

The Council will return to me recommendations on standards, implementation, local flexibility, and data privacy. I expect early recommendations by summer and final recommendations in the fall.

In the end, the idea is simple: How do we set the highest standards and help our students meet them and then measure the performance?

I already know part of the answer to that question: It’s finding, keeping and encouraging great teachers. As we go forward with our review of Common Core, I know that in the back of my mind I’ll be wondering what Mrs. Ivy would think.

We could always trust the Mrs. Ivys to guide us. 

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