Friday, November 9

A Modest Proposal

DR. Tony Bennett, you're about to join the ranks of the unemployed in Indiana; I'm not sure what your wife has been doing since unfair publicity and the liberal media drove her to resign her sinecure with the charter school industry. 

If there's one thing the education reform movement has been clear about, it's that the single key to improving education, the sine qua non of student achievement, is having great teachers. In fairness--I'm trying, seriously, to be fair to you, but I didn't lose my mind overnight--you reformers have been as unclear as to what constituted greatness in a teacher, let alone how this could be quantified, cultivated, and installed in every classroom, as you have been about the evidence for the claim. But even unreasonable people can agree to disagree. 

You're a smart man, a Doctor; I think you might see where this is headed. Unlike Joel Klein, now supervising Rupert Murdoch's textbook wing, or Michelle Rhee, luxuriating in tax-free cash and (I suspect) waiting for Hollywood to call, it's time you showed that reformers are serious, not pocket-stuffing opportunists and laughing cynics. Hoosier values. Personal responsibility. Service.

It's time you--and your wife--went to work as school teachers.

Not administrators. Not celebrity volunteers. Teachers.

And don't worry. My Poor Wife says that after the first couple months, spending every weekend doing meaningless "reform" paperwork which will never be seen again gets to be second nature. 


Anonymous said...

Having spent the last six months hip-deep in leading-edge educational research from across this mighty country, I think I can safely say that education "reform" is being led by people who are completely clueless as to what teaching is really like.

I have become especially fond of the growing movement to make teachers individually mentor each and every one of their students. Combine that theory with ever-expanding class sizes (in one district, they're now up to 32 kids per class) and I think we can see the recipe for success being cooked up.

I wish half the people advocating for reform could be forced to spend an entire year teaching a room full of sugar-addled kids.

Anonymous said...

Riley, it's funny because my next door neighbor said something similar to deal with white collar criminals. Make them work for minimum wage, live in Section 8 housing, drive an old beat up car, and so on. By the way, the parody on "Cheers" when Robin Colcord (I'm showing my age)was playing tennis at the white collar prison wasn't too far off what I hear it can be.

Weird Dave said...

What's that? The person who does the job knows the job the best?

xulon said...

I always thought "great teachers" meant younger, more easily cowed, educators who will put up with larger classes, smaller pay and way more supplies paid out of their pocket.

Anonymous said...

The thing is--also having spent *mumblety* months working in education as a doc student, it's increasingly clear that we know exactly how to solve the education crisis in America: we've proven it with charter schools, with the Harlem Children's Zone, and in a dozen other ways.

And the answer is to throw some damn money at the problem.

I mean, that's not all it takes. You have to improve teacher training programs and attract good college students into teaching--but those things both require money.

You have to improve the physical environment at the country's increasingly aging and sick education infrastructure--but that requires money.

You have to make sure districts can afford to purchase and implement new curricula and materials--but all that really takes is money.

You have to have free, public preschool programs and the transportation infrastructure to get kids to school and make sure they get a couple of meals while they're there. But all that takes is money.

America already knows exactly how to turn our education system into one of the best in the world... we just don't want to pay for it, so we keep looking for shortcuts.

Dr.BDH said...

Well, since many who believe the education reformers also believe the giant salaries and paychecks of CEOs and banksters are proof they're great, perhaps we should up teacher pay to $1-2 million a year, taxed at the carried interest rate, of course. How else can we attract the best and brightests?