If you had $5 billion to improve education, how would you spend it? Eduwonk is offering a free book to the best answer.
In addition to a national (Core Knowledge) curriculum and random testing, Robert Pondiscio suggests at-home tutoring for disruptive students, allowing teachers to create a “positive, productive school environment” for the kids who are ready and able to learn in a classroom.
In a good environment, virtually any curriculum or pedagogy will work. You could put Nobel prize winners in front of every classroom in a dysfunctional school to no good end.
He thinks the achievement gap is a time-on-task gap.
Vast amounts of learning time are sacrificed to discipline problems, and the need to organize classroom management around behavior issues changes the entire classroom dynamic. It turns the teacher into an entertainer, not an instructor.
I’m not sure how I’d spend the money. I might fund a longer school day — with guaranteed time for sports, drama and music as well as extra academics — at schools with lots of high-need students. I think I’d have every new teacher work for a year as an assistant to a master teacher (or several masters) to learn how to teach and lighten the load for the experienced teacher. I might pay for more lesson planning time for teachers and clerical support to maximize their time. I’d like to invest in training principals who can be academic leaders. That $5 billion would go quickly.
Update: Don’t spend it on education research, writes Ken DeRosa on D-Ed Reckoning. The results will be ignored.