Thank you to Glenn Christenson for sharing his thoughts about our recent article: “Funding for Education Must be Targeted to be Effective.” He called for Nevadans to ask what we are seeking to accomplish in our collective education reform efforts, and highlighted Nevada Succeeds’ perspective that if we truly want systemwide education reform at scale we have to move away from programmatic policymaking. He lays out what he believes to be the benchmarks by which Nevadans should make education funding decisions. He’s certainly correct when he says that students “should be armed with a 21st century education that will allow them to be successful in a global workforce, improve the probability of success in furthering their higher education and to be a contributing member to society.”
Christenson touched on how we need to accomplish these goals, and made the important point that “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.”
Critical to ensuring that our K-12 education system is able to deliver positive results from the goals he sets out is that it must, absolutely must, be a system that is hyper-focused on ensuring our students have excellent educators, regardless of the schools they attend. We must do this by supporting those educators in meaningful ways that have shown, time and time again, to not only produce student learning, but that also generate higher job satisfaction and retention rates among educators.
When you look at what the most successful education systems in the world are doing to get the results students need and deserve, they have several things in common. First and foremost, they have a commitment to the exact thing that Christenson mentions. They are committed to a systemic approach. In addition, successful systems demand that each component of the overall education delivery system meet industry recognized and verified high standards. A further overarching common component of all successful education systems is that they have a commitment, and the policies to support this commitment, to ensuring a highly professionalized education workforce. This is the crucial piece that the modern education reform movement has continually overlooked in the United States. Nevada Succeeds believes it is also the most critical reason why we haven’t seen the education results we want in our state.
In order to achieve the results Christenson mentioned in his response, and to ensure that all of our students are ready to succeed in career, college and beyond, we must place a high priority on the educators leading them. Nevada Succeeds knows that this shift is not only imperative, but eminently possible by the creation of policies and supports that develop and retain more world-class, effective teachers, principals, administrators, support professionals and other licensed personnel. With these in place, Nevada will finally be able to make the long-term, sustainable gains we’ve sought for so long.
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