Continuing Professionalization Of Teaching
There must be an increased, systematic effort to value and reward the function of teaching. At present, in Montana as in most of the United States, we pretend to value the function of teaching, but do not provide the career and monetary rewards, relative to other careers requiring similar levels of dedication and competence.
For example, there is at present in our colleges a trend toward devaluation or even denigration of teaching relative to research and administration. There is a trend toward more teaching being done by graduate teaching assistants and untenured adjunct faculty. At many colleges, becoming known as a person devotes who more-than-average attention and dedication to teaching can even harm one's career advancement. Rearranging skewed incentives could do much to change this. For example, state-funded colleges could be required to impose minimum teaching credit requirements, with incentives in both money and career advancement for taking on more. Yes, Montana colleges must encourage research also! It's a matter of bringing some balance back into the system.
Montana can become known as a place where tenured professors are, in fact, required to teach. Think how good this will look to the intelligent, motivated students elsewhere who want a real education! I'm going to study in Montana, where I work with tenured professors from day one. These are exactly the sort of students Montana wants to attract.
Those in teaching must be held to increasingly higher standards of professionalism, and compensation must increase accordingly. The medical profession provides somewhat of a model. Jesse James' mother remarried after his father left to family to seek gold in California, and then died. She was a small farm owner, and her new husband was a doctor. This was considered by all to be a step up the social ladder for him, and a step down for her. How times have changed! Now doctors receive much higher levels of social regard and more money. The same can be done for the teaching profession If Montana takes the lead in this reform, Montana is sure to benefit.
Trades education must be given additional resources, and, just as important, social reward, with an active effort to match offered programs with the real-world job environment. Community colleges are doing a pretty good job of this at present, given the resources, but such efforts must be ramped up considerably. Not simply matching training to available jobs, but to jobs that might be available if the trained employees were available.
Too much college education at present prepares students for jobs they will in fact never have, and fails to prepare them for jobs they will actually get. Educators must keep clearly in view the job market, and also what the job market might become. That said, education for career is only part of education for citizenship. education for life. All students must be encouraged/required as much as possible to learn and practice the concepts and responsibilities of citizenship. and bodies of knowledge valuable for a healthy society but not directly related to making a buck that day.