Thursday, March 04, 2010
There is a perverse set of incentives in teaching. The teacher is held accountable for the performance of another. It is perfectly possible for a child or a parent to say "You have to pass me and I don't have to do a damn thing because it is your job on the line." If poor performance by the student resulted in the parent being punished then that might get results. Teachers are evaluated by administrators who are not selected for their superior teaching skills or an ability to train other teachers. The primary difference between a Teacher and an Educator is that an Educator is someone who has gotten out of the classroom and no longer has to teach.
At the second best Board of Education High School in New York City I saw a select group of senior teachers, called "The Ressurectionists" review the Regents exams of students whose grades were between 55 and 65. Somehow points would be found, very rarely they might be deducted. No student was allowed to fail with a score between 60 and 65. If honest evaluations were desired then the examinations would be shipped out to another school for grading.
Publicly owned entities are bad at delivering services. They are good or at least adequate at inspecting the delivery of services. Public School Education should be replaced by a system of Vouchers and Inspectors. We need a flatter Management system with school based personnel spending more time in the classroom and a career path that ensures that Inspectors and Managers spent at least 5 years teaching. Managers should have prior teaching experience but should be hired in open competitions. Anyone with 5 years of teaching experience who went out and got an MBA should be able to compete for a job as a School Administrator. The position of Principal, originally called Principal Teacher, should be an in system coach and trainer, not a Manager.