State School Superintendent Richard Woods

The state of Georgia is adopting new math standards that will allow educators to teach students traditional math rather than the more complex Common Core math, said State School Superintendent Richard Woods last week. Woods spoke at a joint meeting of the Butts County Retired Educators Association and the Butts County Republican Party on Oct. 7.

Woods said Common Core came about with a lot of politics involved and he was never in favor of it.

“I did not support it, because one of the things that it did was disenfranchise parents and the way we used to do math,” said Woods. “Everybody learns different, but I think what we used in the past with traditional math, there is nothing wrong with that. But then we were telling our parents they couldn’t teach their child with traditional math, and then parents couldn’t work with their child because they didn’t understand the new math. That’s where I have an issue with that, because I think as you go up in grade levels, they use math the same way we used to. Colleges and instructors use math in the traditional way.

“For me, I don’t care how you figure a math problem out, I just want you to be right. I think that is one of the things we’re working on, telling all our teachers and instructors that if they want to use traditional math to teach the kids how we did it, great. I think you try to teach it as simple as you can. When it comes to a Milestones test, we tell them they don’t have to use this method to answer the question.”

Woods added that he also wants to see educators using math to help students learn more about daily living.

“One of the things that I try to express what we’re about in education is we’re here to prepare our kids for life,” Woods said. “I think teaching them how to buy a house, what credit looks like, those are important. Life skills are important — consumer science and things of that nature. I think one of the things in education is how do you put everything into that limited amount of time?

“You want to teach math in cooking? I think that is a great way to put all that into perspective. I hope we also don’t wait until high school, but using cooking for example, there’s math, there’s science, there’s fine arts. There is so much you can do, so I think it is teaching smarter, not harder. We have to look at our teacher training and it letting people be more creative about how to reach out. Those are things we’ll continue to look at and try to integrate and find out how do we do more to prepare our kids just to survive in life by teaching them something they can use.”

Woods also touched on how the state and school systems responded to the COVID-19 pandemic last year and at the start of this new school year.

“One of the things we had to look at was that we were still responsible for feeding all of those kids,” Woods said. “It didn’t matter whether they were in school or 20-30 miles out in the county, we were in charge of trying to figure that out. Our schools really have done a phenomenal job, and I want to say thank you for what has been going on.

“For us in Georgia, to be honest, we actually came out pretty good,” he added. “The governor has done a good job of letting us at the local level make those decisions. He’s been very supportive of that, and a lot of tough decisions have had to be made — do you mask, do you don’t mask — all these different things. One of the things we looked at last year when I was visiting schools — I was in 60-70 different schools, and I guarantee you, I didn’t enter a school until I had my temperature taken. That was something that was mandatoryHow do you ride the bus? That became an issue. Pick ups, drop offs, and who come could into a school? So a lot of things were going on.

“I have actually had Covid, and it took me out probably August and September,” Woods noted. “I had to be in the hospital about 19 days and I still have a little bit of issues. For some of us, Covid doesn’t go away real quick. But even being vaccinated, this new variant hit us. A lot of our schools that were not touched by it so much last year got hit with it (this year). But hopefully those numbers are going down and subsiding.”

Finally, Woods said everyone needs to encourage and support everyone working for school systems, and encourage those looking for work to consider education.

“I want to take a lot of time reminding you of our educators, not just our teachers, but our bus drivers, our cafeteria workers, how important this work is, and how important it is that we keep showing up every day and providing those opportunities for our children,” said Woods. “We are at a place right now where it is more important than ever that we support them and cheer them on, and we let them know how much we appreciate them. It has been a stressful time for all of us. I’m sure you’ve read in the papers and seen on the news that it is getting more and more difficult for us to find those support people, those people that drive a bus and work in the cafeteria and come in and clean the schools. So if you know people that might be interested, please encourage them and help them connect the dots on just how important that work is.”

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Senior Reporter

I have worked for community newspapers in Butts, Henry, Newton, Rockdale, and Upson counties for 30 years. I was Editor of the Jackson Progress-Argus from 1993-1999, and returned to the Progress-Argus as Senior Reporter in 2019.

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