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State school superintendent visits

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AMERICUS — State Superintendent Richard Woods came to Americus to spread a message for a new direction in education, and was excited about the enthusiastic reception he received in Sumter County. More than 250 people came to Sumter County Primary School on Wednesday to hear Superintendent Woods talk about issues such as the over-testing of students and the importance of fine arts in education.

“You have got it going on in Sumter County,” the superintendent said. “I go to a lot of places and we won’t even fill up five seats.

“For me, education is about the child,” he said. “If we have failed the child, we have failed education.”

Tools for success largely involve an emphasis of basic skills such as reading and math, but in a manner that recognizes the individual skills and unique abilities of each child.

“We need to treat each child as a work of art. You have to get your hands on them and mold them to get them in the right direction,” he said.

Part of recognizing the unique abilities of children involves questioning some of the assumptions of the “No Child Left Behind” program.

“Not every child is going to a four-year university,” Woods said. “We have some technical colleges that are great.”

Woods took exception to the testing craze that has overwhelmed the public school system throughout the state.

“We’ve got to allow our teachers to go and do their job,” he said. “They’ve become such compliance officers and data collectors so they can’t do what they need to do.”