But it made me think of a quote I just read from Bill Bennett, former education secretary:
“The research on this is fascinating: there’s a ton. It’s not class size. It’s certainly not facilities. It’s not technology. It’s the quality of the adult in front of the classroom. The research is clear; you are much better off in a bad school with a good teacher than a supposedly really good school with a bad teacher. If you take kids from the 50th percentile in the third grade, and you give them a teacher everyone regards as excellent, in two years they’ll be at the 85 percentile. You give them a teacher everyone regards as not very good, in two years they’ll be in the 35th percentile.”I wonder if a school district told its constituents that they wanted more money strictly to spend on teachers -- to attract better quality teachers, to train its current teachers, to pay the legal costs of getting rid of bad teachers -- never mind the old facilities, forget about the athletics programs, worry later about a computer lab . . . I wonder how well that would go over. Unfortunately, I don't think it would go over well.
And frankly, if I were living in the district, I would be a bit skeptical, too. I would be skeptical that they would be able to recognize a quality teacher when they saw one to hire. I would be skeptical that the teachers they train would have any motivation to improve rather than continue in the safe entropy of what they've always done. I would be skeptical of the administration having the guts to actually identify bad teachers and root them out. All that is much harder to do than it is to buy a batch of shiny new computers to show off to the parents.
But that's the stuff that would actually make a difference.