Tuesday, November 16, 2010

war on teachers?

From economic education scholar, Eric Hanushek, in the WSJ...

All sides of the educational policy debate now accept that the key determinant of school effectiveness is teachers—that effective teachers get good achievement results for all children, while ineffective teachers hurt all students, regardless of background. Also increasingly accepted is that the interests of teachers unions aren't the same as the interests of children, or even of most teachers....This is not a war on teachers en masse. It is recognition of what every parent knows: Some teachers are exceptional, but a small number are dreadful. And if that is the case, we should think of ways to change the balance.

My research—which has focused on teacher quality as measured by what students learn with different teachers—indicates that a small proportion of teachers at the bottom is dragging down our schools. The typical teacher is both hard-working and effective. But if we could replace the bottom 5%-10% of teachers with an average teacher—not a superstar—we could dramatically improve student achievement. The U.S. could move from below average in international comparisons to near the top.

Teachers unions say they don't want bad teachers in the classrooms, but then they assert that we can't adequately judge teachers and they act to defend them all....

So we are seeing not a war on teachers, but a war on the blunt and detrimental policies of teachers unions....

The bottom line is that focusing on effective teachers cannot be taken as a liberal or conservative position. It's time for the unions to drop their polemics and stop propping up the bottom.

2 Comments:

At December 4, 2010 at 8:32 PM , Blogger Tamara said...

I work in the public school system. Problems in the public school system go well beyond one simple fix. I don't think anyone would argue that teachers who do not do the job should not have the job, but I can't imagine that simply addressing this one issue would "move us to the top" internationally.

 
At December 4, 2010 at 8:50 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

I agree. Family dissolution is a;most certainly the larger issue, but not one we can as easily fix.

 

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