Monday, August 4, 2008

The Real Problem...

I posted an article on Wednesday talking about our educational system in South Dakota. Many comments have surfaced regarding this piece as other blogs ran the article as well.

I bring this topic up again after I read this article in the Hamlin County Republican. It outlines the same frustrations I have for the future… not the present. As the article notes, some schools have found enough teachers for the coming school year, but others have not. More importantly, trends beginning to emerge show that fewer people are going into education, many leave after a short time, and we are on the brink of retirement for many of South Dakota’s most dedicated teachers. So again, let’s ask the question “why”? Why are we experiencing this symptom and what is the ‘real problem’?

A proactive approach to education will turn the tide and secure our future. We are in a ‘knowledge economy,’ characterized by technology. Education plays a crucial role in this economy, and in order to be competitive in a global marketplace, we must ensure our children are educated for the opportunities for the future economy. This simply cannot be done without the most important element in education…teachers.

Again, we need to first redesign our educational system to focus on the demands of our new economy. Our current delivery system is not effective. Vertically integrating our K-12 system with our postsecondary educational system is absolutely critical to accomplish this task.

Secondly, our education system must be in sync, horizontally integrating with our ever changing economy. To accomplish this high order, we must create public and private partnerships to enhance collaboration between our newly vertically-tiered educational system and the economic drivers in our state.

And thirdly, we must become realistic to the ‘new model’ that will be developed from this vertical and horizontal integration: a model that predicts enrollment, captures quality teachers and is flexible to allow innovation in administration as well as delivery of education to our bright young minds. Within a new framework, efficiencies will present themselves; however we must understand and be prepared to be willing to make any possible new investment; if necessary. The teaching profession deserves a ‘market based pay’ commensurate with the value it holds within our future economy. We are not just competing with other teacher salaries here, we are competing with other technology jobs, etc. that these bright professionals decide to pursue as a profession instead of teaching – because it pays more for their abilities.

Teachers construct our future by molding and developing the greatest asset to the state of South Dakota: the young minds of our students. This is their solemn obligation as educators... the architects of our future. Let’s face reality and move forward.

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