Often less attention is paid to how money is spent than to the simpler question of how much. There are additional considerations that may not apply to funding at all.

Training is a passion. To captivate people with the success of students means to raise the level of the profession to systemic respect. My certification legally gives me a serious privilege to teach children. The problem is that teachers are usually not respected at the same level as the responsibilities of this certification.

The conversation should continue with the teacher evaluation process. Although some reforms have taken place, this process still delays many administrators and does not support teachers. Measuring student performance should lead to broader school-wide and departmental conversations. Participation in extracurricular activities aimed at educating school culture should be clearly rewarded. The rating system should inspire confidence in successful teachers and motivate new teachers who improve.

Next, school reform should start with ideas and contributions from the classrooms. Often ideas appear outside the school and then ask teachers how they relate to it. If the reform system could collect ideas, observations and data from teachers, the reform could take on new meaning and enable teachers to make a difference. Mentoring is one of the few professions that often forces those who are not in the profession to listen to how to do their job. That needs to change. The collective knowledge and experience of tens of thousands of teachers should be more important than those who think of part-time education.

Both points could also be developed through improved links between university education departments and K-12 school districts. It should be an ongoing dialogue. Teacher-teacher programs and student learning are concepts that are close to each other. Mentoring should not only be a K-12 lesson, but also include many of the same aspects as student learning. Combining these systems better eliminates the immediate shortcoming now for long-term success. Without proper practical training many will be hesitant, no matter how many exceptions are made to the certification rules, to only put adults in front of children.

It is one thing to have a good first day, but after decades of beating public education you have to pay. Teachers working in the highest risk areas should have the loudest voices. Michigan needs to return to the principle that every child deserves a quality education.

This means that in every classroom the teacher is highly respected. This does not mean filling holes and ticking. That is to get down to business. That is, respect teachers for the professionals they should be.

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