The Fix for Public Education?

As the New Year approaches, it will almost certainly be filled with more conversations about how to improve schools. James Liebman, a former director in the NYC Public Schools, writes that in the “The Great School Wars,” it appears many think that simply changing one or two inputs in the system will magically “fix” public education. Do we change the management process to make them more like business, hold teachers more accountable for test scores, or require more of educators? Along the last line, 25 state school chiefs have agreed to raise the entrance bar for incoming teachers, with the hope of ensuring new teachers are 100% ready for the classroom on Day 1. Having observed and evaluated teachers for nearly 20 years, I think this will be a challenge. First-year teachers need time to learn in their own environment and quite a lot of research has been done to show that it takes five to seven years to master the art of teaching. The federal government is also getting into the act by tying “teacher quality” to future funding.

I would also suggest that the following “lists” of what makes a master teacher are interesting in light of the teacher quality issue. George Couros’s listing; Ben Johnson’s Blog; and T&L Advisor David Andrade’s post on what high school students think makes a good teacher.

Steven M. Baule is the superintendent of North Boone CUSD 200 in Poplar Grove, IL.