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Plenty has been said about the need for STEAM education and a skill trades workforce, but not enough put forward on how to get there. In many ways Michigan is poised to be a leader in developing the workers of a global 21st century economy. Michigan lacks on supporting the mechanisms needed for this to happen at the speed of innovation.

Positive points like Early Middle College and the competency mindset of the Merit Curriculum allow the stage to be set, but for too long the secondary and post secondary options for students have been undercut.

Michigan needs to draw itself from the market ideology of schools and focus on the structures for inter-district cooperation in a multitier professional learning community.

In addition, the state should also continue to expand school to professional partnerships in both the high school and collegiate settings. Many positive efforts are being made, but are they being made in a way that financially stabilizes the institutional cooperation? Yes and no.

The Marshal Plan for Talent seeks to dole out grants, districts may participate in a consortium to share students, and dual enrollment or Early Middle College programs open a step over the traditional sorting out of the college application process.

Instead of thinking about programs to help out for one cause or another, it is time for the next governor and legislator to think of the education system holistically. The goal is to create a system where schools of any size or level think of funding as a secondary concern and education as a first priority.

It is time for a student centered mindset rather than an economic model or school wide focus. Any teacher from pre-k through college will explain the abundance of diversity in the classroom. What motivates a student, what impassions a student, and what transforms a student is as varied as each individual throughout society. Student centered options are pathways of choice, not necessarily burdening parents and students with the value judgment of which school.

Academic collaboration is key, but is must be a system that allows for student centered thinking first. It will mean altering funding or curricular programs many times to keep pace with the changing demands of a diverse student population.

Paul Ruth

St. Clair Shores

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