Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Arne Duncan, class size and champion teachers

David Brooks writes that Arne Duncan espouses the idea of "Gold Star" teachers.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave a superb speech in November called the New Normal. He observed that this era of austerity should be an occasion to increase productivity and cut the things that are ineffective. Duncan is a fountain of ideas to make more with less.
For example, he says, if we have to increase class sizes, we should put more kids in with the best teachers and then we should pay those teachers more to compensate for the extra load. Most of us parents would rather see our kids in a class of 30 with a great teacher than a class of 25 with an average one.
As a parent, I agree. But I don't think our schools can do this now, because they will not acknowledge that some teachers are better than others are.


  1. OK, some teachers are better than others.

    But why not focus on improving *all* teaching? Instead of reducing the amount of attention and energy per child by raising class size numbers?

    There are better ways to utilize teacher talent than loading up class numbers.

    There are also better ways to cut costs in education--just ask a teacher. Most of the ideas coming out of the U.S. Dept of Ed will end up costing more: Common Core standards, curriculum and assessments (a bonanza for education publishers), Charter Schools (where funding can be supplemented by hedge fund managers), merit pay (which will narrow curricular goals)--and the Race to the Top, which gives competitive bonuses to states and districts who are willing to align with USDOE policy priorities.

  2. Nancy, I think we probably might agree that fewer top-down edicts would be better for our schools. In fact, doing away with the entire Dept. of Education might be a good start!