Top 10 list of teacher policy flubs

Chester Finn writes on teacher policy follies on Gadfly. Among the top mistakes:

Out of deference to adult preferences rather than what’s best for children, we’ve opted for quantity rather than quality, for hiring more teachers instead of demanding (and paying for) better ones. . . Between 1955 and 2000, the number of K-12 teachers in the U.S. almost tripled while enrollments rose by half.

. . . We use paper credentials as the gauge of who will be allowed to teach, rather than demanding evidence of subject-matter knowledge and/or the ability to handle a classroom . . .
 
We sorely underestimate the importance of attracting intellectual talent into the profession, excusing this failure by saying there’s more to teaching than being smart.
 
. . . We don’t do any quality control, except via paper credentials at the point of entry, and we make it extremely difficult to move (much less remove) bad teachers or reward good ones. We confer tenure on teachers prematurely and automatically, linking it to time on the job rather than effectiveness. Then we hold it inviolate. 

There’s more.

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Comments

  1. Mike in Texas says:

    We don’t make key teacher hiring, assignment and retention decisions where they should be made—at the building level—even though that’s where critical judgments can be made about a person’s suitability for teaching specific content to particular children.

    He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. In every elementary school I’ve ever seen or worked in the hiring decisions were made by the principal. Unless of course your new high school coach happens to have a wife who is a teacher, then she gets the job automatically (most commonly heard phrase “He won’t come if we don’t give his wife a job”)

  2. Mike in Texas wrote:

    In every elementary school I’ve ever seen or worked in the hiring decisions were made by the principal.

    Careful Mike, pull a couple of more responsibilities out of the district offices and you’re liable to find you’ve become a charter school proponent. 🙂

  3. Mike in Texas says:

    Careful Mike, pull a couple of more responsibilities out of the district offices and you’re liable to find you’ve become a charter school proponent. 🙂

    LOL, not a chance Allen. You did a good job of teaching me how to make italics.

  4. Mike in Texas wrote:

    LOL, not a chance Allen.

    You may not have a choice.

    Schools can clearly do without administrators, or at least with a hell of a lot fewer administrators. The charter school movement makes that inarguable. All that’s left is to apply that particular lesson to the entire public education system.

    I wonder what the catch-phrase will be for the charterization of the public school system?

  5. Mike in Texas says:

    Schools can clearly do without administrators, or at least with a hell of a lot fewer administrators.

    Gasp!! Is there something we finally agree on??

  6. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Gasp!! Is there something we finally agree on??

    Well, yes and no.

    You may feel that a bumper crop of administrators is the problem but how far down the road are you willing to go to find a solution?

    Do you just think they should be made to disappear by the Good Witch of the North? Are vague condemnations good enough for you? Or do you want to see where the observation leads? What are the substantive, and maybe scary, changes that need to be made to solve the administrator population problem?

    If you just want to grump about the problem then that’s as far as our agreement goes. You’re unhappy with the current situation but unwilling or unable to see the next logical step.

    There are schools which have very few administrators and are always on the lookout for ways to get rid of those. They’re private schools, parochial schools and charters.

    From what I’ve been able to determine, you’re upset with the amount of budget that goes to administration but you’d like see that change only within the framework of district-based public education. Trouble is, you don’t get the one, a district-based system, without the other, top-heavy administration. That’s where we part company.