2018 Gubernatorial Race needs to continue to increase education funding, to bring Tennessee to a place where lack of resources is no longer a barrier to student success or to teacher retention and recruitment. Districts need to do their part by making sure they are making smart fiscal decisions and are focusing resources where the need is the greatest and where they are seeing the best results. The state and districts should continue to double down on funding what works. (2) The opportunity gap is a persistent problem with no simple solution. Funding increases will help, but the problem is much too complex to be solved by funding alone. At the state level, we need to continue to monitor achievement gaps, to offer support where the gaps are largest and to highlight and study the districts and schools that are successfully closing those gaps. Both the state and districts should work to identify the practices that are producing the best results, and help highlight and spread those practices across Tennessee. When a district or a school is doing something innovative that works, the state and district can connect the people doing that work with others who are struggling. Sharing successful practices is the hallmark of great collaboration. (3) Again, funding increases will help. Teaching our youngest citizens is some of the most important work anyone can do, and teachers should be paid at a level that recognizes the importance of the work they do. At the same time, many teachers leave the profession for other reasons, and we need to work to solve the problems that lead great educators to leave the classroom. Teachers need to know that their thoughts and opinions are valued. They are in the trenches every day- we need to listen to them and learn from their experiences. As governor, I would work to increase efforts to elevate the teacher voice.We also need to provide more quality opportunities for teachers to collaborate with each other and to develop a greater sense of community at the grade, school, district and state levels. All of these changes would benefit classroom teachers. Increased funding, including increased teacher pay, would certainly benefit teachers. Greater access to practices that are working, more opportunities to share their thoughts and opinions and a focus on increasing quality opportunities for collaboration would also help teachers feel valued, gain tools and strategies to support their work in the classroom and make sure that every educator has the best opportunity to provide quality instruction to their students. Any final thoughts you’d like to share with our educators? Education is one of the most critical issues facing Tennessee, and our country. While there are no simple solutions, one thing that we can do that will make a difference is come together, put aside adult politics and focus on doing whatever is necessary to ensure that every Tennessee student has access to a high quality public education.