Silver bullet goes astray

American Teacher is another silver bullet for education that misses the target, writes Dana Goldstein on Slate. The movie profiles four excellent, hard-working teachers and advocates paying  teachers $125,000 a year to attract talented college graduates to the profession. But it never explains how those big salaries will be paid (larger classes?) or how teachers’ merit will be judged. Teachers’ unions aren’t mentioned. Neither is testing. There are no trade-offs to be made.

The movie is narrated by Matt Damon, an education reform critic, and co-produced by writer Dave Eggers and Nínive Clements Calegari, a former teacher who works with Eggers on 826 National, a network of urban, nonprofit writing tutoring centers.

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  1. In terms of “where will the money come from,” fair enough – but that can (and should) be asked at any salary.

    We seem to be entering into the realm of the false dichotomy – we either stick with the status quo (if it can be called that) of reducing teacher pay, unionization rights and benefits, or pay teachers a salary that will attract people who will otherwise go into a better paying profession (which, for college grads, seems to mean pretty much any other profession, save for social work).

    Can you help us get back on track? What salary should we pay teachers – what can we afford, what amount is fair, what amount will attract quality candidates? What collective bargaining rights should teachers have? What testing regimen should be used, and how has its effectiveness and accuracy been established? What trade-offs do we have to make?