Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Teacher Quality is Not the Issue

Gov. Daniels claims he wants education reform. I contend that what he actually wants to do is kill or make impotent a teacher’s right to collectively bargain. It has nothing to do with education.

The governor has said repeatedly that the quality of the teachers, more so than classroom size or socioeconomic status, determines how well students perform in class. Well then, how unfortunate it is that the low-performing inner-city schools have accidentally recruited the worst teachers for decades while the higher-performing suburban schools have managed to snag the best.

If there is so much disparity in teacher quality between those two school locations then maybe a little experiment is in order. Why not pick two volunteer schools, one a low-performing school from a poor neighborhood and one a high-performing suburban school. Have them trade teaching staffs for two years. If it truly is a teacher quality issue, then the low-performing school will show significant improvement in test scores while the students in the “good” school will start performing worse.

My hypothesis is that there will be little if any change in test scores from either school. It’s not the quality of teaching that’s at issue. If it is, then let the principals deal with those teachers on an individual basis. But you don’t buy a new car just because the one you have is out of gas. You address the real issue.