Two important articles about Teachers

For starters, if you are teacher reading this blog, I beseech you to ask yourself whether you are a dedicated professional committed to your craft, or whether you are a self-serving union drone with an overpowering sense of entitlement? You can’t be both, and over the next few years, you will be forced to choose sides.

This nation cannot afford the financial and social cost of America’s schools system. Not in the city. Not in the suburbs. Teacher or not, read these articles. This system MUST be transformed.

First, this should be obvious, but why do we believe we need MORE teachers? What if we need less? What if all of us can become “teachers” in some way or fashion, reducing the need to pay people to do what we might do for free?

We Need Fewer Teachers, Not More

As I explain in Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning, we need fewer teachers, not more, and those few teachers must reach thousands of students at a time. Fortunately, this possibility, once remote, is now arriving with a speed as rapid as that of the avatar-laden space ship zeroing in on the planet Pandora. As we enter the world of high-powered notebook computers, broadband internet connections, 3-dimensional curricula, open-source product development, and internet-based games, both co-operative and competitive, students will learn by accessing dynamic, interactive instructional materials that provide information to each student at the level of accomplishment he or she has reached.

Today, millions of students in brick-and-mortar classrooms are either bored because they already know the material being presented or confused because it is far beyond their contemporary level of comprehension. Teaching algebra to someone who cannot divide just doesn’t work.
Solving the teaching problem does not mean hiring millions of better teachers but finding new ways of reaching students directly. Teachers can then be used as coaches to help students access curricula created by the world’s most brilliant pedagogues–who in some cases may turn out to be students themselves.

Next up, this too should be obvious, but why go through all the rigmarole of “training teachers to be good” when we can simply identify the best ones and pay them accordingly?

A Case for Merit Pay: It’s Easier to Identify Good Teachers than to Train Them

Decades ago progressive reformers persuaded states and districts to put school boards under tight controls when they hired and paid teachers–on the theory that they would otherwise appoint their friends and neighbors to the job and pay them according to their political connections. Teachers could be hired only if they had a state-certified teaching license earned at a school of education. After a few years, teachers were given tenure and could be removed only by means of a complex, quasi-legal process. Salaries were based solely on their academic credentials and teaching experience, not according to the whim of any supervisor.

Now we are learning that almost every one of these decisions was wrong-headed. A just-released paper prepared by Matthew M. Chingos and myself for a Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance conference on merit pay (which will take place on June 3-4) shows that Florida teachers who majored in education in college are no better at teaching math and reading to elementary- and middle-school students than those who did not. Even those teachers who attended the most selective universities in Florida, such as the state’s flagship university, the University of Florida, are no better at lifting student performance in reading and math than those who attended Florida’s less prestigious institutions. Nor can we identify any benefit from earning a master’s degree, despite the fact that school districts tend to pay 8 percent to 10 percent more to teachers who hold such a degree.

This article shows that certification is a scam. It’s a union card. If you think about it, the process is designed to screen out the talented, and “equalize” any talented people brave enough to stay.