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Professionalize the teaching profession

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Jan. 6, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
January 6, 2011 5:26 pm

The governor’s new combine-the-state-school-agencies plan got us thinking about ed reform again.

Here is a powerful argument for treating teachers as professionals, not union workers. Higher pay, more accountability, like lawyers, engineers, etc. It’s signed by a slew of big-city school chiefs. A couple excerpts:

A 7-year-old girl won’t make it to college someday because her teacher has two decades of experience or a master’s degree – she will make it to college if her teacher is effective and engaging and compels her to reach for success.

By contrast, a poorly performing teacher can hold back hundreds, maybe thousands, of students over the course of a career. Each day that we ignore this reality is precious time lost for children preparing for the challenges of adulthood.

The glacial process for removing an incompetent teacher – and our discomfort as a society with criticizing anyone who chooses this noble and difficult profession – has left our school districts impotent and, worse, has robbed millions of children of a real future. Let’s stop ignoring basic economic principles of supply and demand and focus on how we can establish a performance-driven culture in every American school — a culture that rewards excellence, elevates the status of teachers and is positioned to help as many students as possible beat the odds. …

We need the best teacher for every child, and the best principal for every school. Of course, we must also do a better job of providing meaningful training for teachers who seek to improve, but let’s stop pretending that everyone who goes into the classroom has the ability and temperament to lift our children to excellence.

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