Nevada Succeeds reached out to multiple stakeholders in Nevada for their reaction to our August 14 column, “Funding for Education Must be Targeted to be Effective.” Below, Glenn Christenson weighs in. We’ll be responding with our thoughts in the coming days and look forward to a continued conversation.
From Glenn Christenson, August 23, 2017
As a long time Nevadan, I am very pleased to see the substantial effort toward meaningful education reform. But with respect to funding, we need to reexamine our approach and think more broadly than piecemeal funding of this group or that program.
The first question we need to answer is “What are we trying to accomplish?” Upon graduation from our secondary schools, every student should be armed with a 21st century education that will allow them to be successful in a global workforce, improve their probability of success in furthering their higher education and to be a contributing member to society. All funding around K-12 education should be within that context.
Funding for K-12 education should follow a three step strategic plan to achieve that goal. First, develop a real partnership between the State, K-12 systems, higher ed and the business community to address workforce needs and improve the skill set for students entering the workforce or higher ed. This would include more emphasis on critical thinking, communication, and analysis of complex situations. A 21st century education is going to have to more fully consider how students will address new realities in artificial intelligence, robotics and a global economy amongst other things. The strategic plan should also address how the State can generate more high quality teachers. This would include funding for an aspirational teacher preparation program and the facilities to house such a program. Unfortunately, the Legislature did not meaningfully address these needs in the last session.
All funding should be based on insuring a strong return on investment for the dollars spent. Superintendent Skorkowsky has started this effort in the Clark County School District, but it needs to be more robust. Costs incurred that do not generate a meaningful return on investment must be eliminated. ROI can be enhanced by concentrating on low-income schools, enhanced professional development at all levels in the organization, and a review of curriculum. Evaluating the curriculum with an eye to the 21st Century needs of students could result in an even greater focus on STEAM programs, financial literacy, and communication skills.
Finally, building credibility in the community is critical. The reorganization effort at CCSD should engage thousands of new families in the education reform effort. Transparency, building momentum, demonstrating improved student outcomes can lead to greater funding. Our town loves a winner.
It is important to note that many of the suggestions herein are already in progress but we need more communication, better collaboration, and more focus.
Bottom line, additional funding should be driven by a thoughtful plan to improve student outcomes and provide a basis for accountability to the taxpayers. We can do this.
Tell us what you think by leaving a comment on this post, reaching out to us on Twitter or Facebook, filling out our Contact Us form or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!