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Just a scant 176 years ago, children learned their three R#s in Gwinnett#s first school, Lawrenceville Academy. They learned about the world from newspapers that were weeks and even months old, carried their lunches in pails and heated their food over wooden stoves. Their school years started later and ended earlier # they had to help around the farm during peak times. If someone had told them that one day students would drive cars to school, talk to each other during the day on wireless telephones and do their homework on computers # they probably wouldn#t have believed it. But it happened.

Even the three R#s aren#t the same. Instead of reading out of McGuffy#s Reader, #ritin on a slate board and doing #rithmetic on their fingers, they#re now reading about cloning, writing on recycled paper and doing math on calculators. You won#t disagree that education has come a long way since the three R#s were considered the learning standard.

Today, our students have a vast range of education choices. In Gwinnett#s K-12 system alone, students have access to Internet learning help, extracurricular activities, brand-new facilities and much more.

But it doesn#t stop there. Right in our own neighborhood, students pursue college degrees from several institutions while college-educated professionals return to Gwinnett for advanced degrees and those in the workforce take part in many continuing education programs. The Academy#s first superintendent, Dr. John Wilson, would be proud if he could see how far Gwinnett#s education has come since the first school opened in 1826.

Gwinnett County Public Schools: Reaching Higher

It#s amazing that since 1826, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) has become the largest school system in Georgia, and it#s still growing. A far cry from the one-room schoolhouses that seated a few students, GCPS adds nearly 7,000 students a year, and by the 2004-05 school year, they estimate enrollment to be more than 136,000.

Striving for Greatness as a System of World-class Schools

"The schools of the country are its future in miniature," said Tehyi Hsieh, a Chinese philosopher. Take Hsieh#s quote, apply it to Gwinnett#s schools, and our country#s future looks bright. But to keep and exceed the school system#s success and ultimately the success of our nation, GCPS must keep reaching higher and striving harder.

Part of that striving for success is defined in GCPS# vision to become "a system of world-class schools where students acquire the knowledge and skills to be successful as they continue their education at the post-secondary level and/or enter the workforce." But first, what exactly constitutes a "world-class school?" Here#s what does and will characterize GCPS:

# High academic standards for all.

# A comprehensive, challenging and relevant curriculum.

# Effective, engaging instructional strategies.

# Accurate and meaningful assessments.

# High-performing and inspiring employees committed to professional development, training and lifelong learning.

# Information technology systems that advance teaching and learning.

# A culture of continuous improvement.

# Accountability for results.

# Productive community and parental partnerships.

# Innovative approaches to scheduling, staffing and use of resources.

# A safe and secure learning environment.

# Behavioral standards for all that are conducive to teaching and learning.

# Commitment to meeting the needs of its internal and external communities while capitalizing on their diverse ideas and strengths.

SPLOST: Money Well-Spent on Educating Our Students

Today, it takes a lot more funds to operate a school system than it did back in 1826. That#s where a tax extension benefits many of us. In 2001, Gwinnett County voters approved a $995 mill

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