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Prepare students for tomorrow's jobs

Kudos to the editorial staff for your editorial, "Michigan's schools: It's time to light the fire," (May 31). I agree 110 percent with the premise and the need for schools to modernize to prepare our students for future jobs. Listening to interviews of participants at the Mackinac conference was encouraging. It seems they "get it" and will address at the state level the need for revamping our educational systems.

I am proud to say Tecumseh "gets it." Kudos should go to our Superintendent Kelly Coffin, who has faced a firestorm from parents of children who think the old ways are adequate. Coffin and the Board of Education took a giant leap to renovate buildings and adopt a curriculum in which learning is student driven, beginning with the current school year. Our students are now expected to analyze, think critically, problem solve and work together to create solutions.

In a letter to our local weekly, I wrote that The Institute for the Future, the managing director of Manpower (UK) and the World Economic Forum all predict that we and today's primary students will discover that 65 percent of jobs in which they will work don't even exist today. Our schools need to address and prepare for this possibility now. 

Deb Lawson, Tecumseh

Give teachers freedom to teach 

I find this editorial incredibly irritating and misleading. The misleading part is that teachers deliver content to a room full of students in a manner much like that of 30-50 years ago. This is beyond untrue. As a teacher of the last 22 years, I know that education has evolved far beyond that. The lecture format is rare in the classroom over the last decade with the addition of 1:1 technology and increasing tools that center the learning and responsibility of students. Your claim is uninformed and reflects the attitude of people who have spent little time in a K-12 building recently. 

As for irritating, the current state government created the system that became highly dependent on standardized test scores. They even went so far as to tie teacher evaluations to it. Now, after 10-15 years of what do the test scores say, they suddenly don't matter. Remember low test scores were the impetus for promoting charter schools and increased school choice. 

The Detroit News has been deeply complicit in the bemoaning of test scores and their outsized meaning. If only they had asked educators about the vapid nature of these scores, they would have known this years ago. According to this editorial, the very system of evaluating teachers and schools has been illegitimate from the start. It has boxed teachers in, limited creativity and failed to reflect what our students truly require. 

Steve Korpusik, New Hudson

Don't overlook inclusive entrepreneurship

In the pre-Mackinac Policy Conference snapshot “Talent, workforce will dominate on Mackinac,” (May 27) we see a missed an opportunity for the agenda to highlight an additional lever for change: inclusive entrepreneurship. 

Barriers to small business ownership continue to be a challenge for people of color and women. In October 2017, the Institute for Policy Studies published “I Dream Detroit: The Voice and Vision of Women of Color on Detroit’s Future.” More than 70 percent of survey respondents — thought leaders and strategists — reported not feeling included in Detroit’s economic development plans. 

In contrast, the majority of Build alumni are women and people of color — together they generate $30.8 million each year through labor income and have created 1,000 jobs since 2012. 

Michigan should drop old assumptions that small business success must be big and immediate; that taking risks outside of tech (on retail, services, the arts) is bad; and that investing in women or people of color comes with a lower ROI. We can do this by offering more mentoring, education, easier access to capital, accessible workspace and a supportive, well-resourced community that makes it possible to work even harder. 

The greatest untapped asset in the city of Detroit is people with ideas. 

April Boyle, founder and executive director 

Build Institute, Detroit

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