Still strong in our schools, but what does future hold?
SIDEWAYS THUMBS: The good news: Minnesota continues to lead the nation in overall math achievement, according to "The Nation's Report Card," which was released Tuesday by the national Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Minnesota students also graded out above average in reading for grade four and grade eight. The bad news: The gap between Minnesota and the rest of the country is shrinking, as other states are making larger, more significant gains. In grade four reading, 10 states scored higher than Minnesota in 2011; two years ago, only six did. Five states were significantly higher in grade eight reading; two years ago, only three were. Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius says Minnesota is still "ahead of the curve, but that won't be the case for long if other states continue to gain ground while we simply hold steady." Translation: There is plenty of work to be done. Forget about No Child Left Behind - the federal education mandate most educators have deemed unfair - let's focus on our students, our teacher evaluation processes, and our glaring achievement gap between white students and students of color and those minorities who struggle with the most basic English concepts. We have a lot of great schools, teachers and educational leaders in this corner of the state, and we in southwest Minnesota must continue to uphold our lofty academic standards. We set the bar high in these parts and need to continue to push it even higher.
THUMBS UP: The new library is open for business in Marshall, and judging by comments Tuesday from the public, it's been well-received. A grand opening will take place Thursday, and we encourage everyone to take the time to check the new building out. Now, the big question is what will come of the building the library used to occupy in downtown Marshall? Some think the museum should move there; some believe the building should be demolished and used for additional parking. We trust our local elected officials will put some serious time and thought into how the building could best be utilized in the future.