This is back-to-school week for many Missouri students. By the end of next week most students will have returned to classes. And the State Education Commissioner looks at the start of the new school year as an opportunity for a fresh start on so many fronts.
"The great thing about public education is that we get to start over every year," said Commissioner Chris Nicastro in an interview with the Missourinet. "We have a new start, we have an opportunity to do things better than we did the year before."
As part of that fresh start, Nicastro would like to see improvement in so many areas, especially mathematics.
"Traditionally, we’ve done better in Missouri in communication arts than we have in mathematics and I think we need to continue to emphasize mathematics," said Nicastro. "Science is another area that we probably still have some work to do. But until we have a hundred percent proficiency we’ve got work in every area."
The new commissioner is making it clear she is a big supporter of METS education, which focuses on the teaching of mathematics, engineering, technology, and science.
"METS is a huge initiative in this state and one that I’m personally very familiar with and I think it’s just absolutely the way we need to go," said Nicastro. "We know that we need to prepare more engineers, we need to prepare more scientists, we need to prepare people with higher levels of technology. All of that is part of that initiative we need to continue."
METS teaching has been championed by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, which has brought together representatives of business, communities, and education leaders throughout the state to form the METS Coalition.
Nicastro insists that while she embraces METS teaching she believes it must be integrated into a much larger education experience that includes many other courses.