When he retired from playing professional football, he was the greatest quarterback of all time. Still today he’s mentioned in the top 10. He was really somethin’; really something to see. Two things about Sir Francis:
- He was an innovator.
- He achieved at the highest level.
So, when #10 speaks about educational achievement, I tend to wanna listen. At least listen:
Inflation-adjusted spending per student in the United States has nearly tripled since 1970. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, we spend more per student than any nation except Switzerland, with only middling results to show for it.
Over the past 20 years, we’ve been told that a big part of the problem is crumbling schools—that with new buildings and computers in every classroom, everything would improve. But even though spending on facilities and equipment has more than doubled since 1989 (again adjusted for inflation), we’re still not seeing results, and officials assume the answer is that we haven’t spent enough.
These same misguided beliefs are front and center in President Obama’s jobs plan, which includes billions for “public school modernization.” The popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. We’ve been spending billions of dollars on school modernization for decades, and I suspect we could keep on doing it until the end of the world, without much in the way of academic results. The only beneficiaries are the teachers unions.
Perhaps no other sector of American society so demonstrates the failure of government spending and interference. We’ve destroyed individual initiative, individual innovation and personal achievement, and marginalized anyone willing to point it out. As one of my coaches used to say, “You don’t get vast results with half-vast efforts!”
The results we’re looking for are students learning, so we need to reward great teachers who show they can make that happen—and get rid of bad teachers who don’t get the job done. It’s what we do in every other profession: If you’re good, you get rewarded, and if you’re not, then you look for other work. It’s fine to look for ways to improve the measuring tools, but don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Listen. Let yourself listen and you know, you simply can NOT deny that he’s right.
— we’re still not seeing results
— The only beneficiaries are the teachers unions.
— The results we’re looking for are students learning, so we need to reward great teachers
— get rid of bad teachers
And the one that rocks me to the very core of my being:
— We’ve destroyed individual initiative, individual innovation and personal achievement, and marginalized anyone willing to point it out.
We are turning into France!
Still don’t believe me? STILL? Consider:
Imagine the National Football League in an alternate reality. Each player’s salary is based on how long he’s been in the league. It’s about tenure, not talent. The same scale is used for every player, no matter whether he’s an All-Pro quarterback or the last man on the roster. For every year a player’s been in this NFL, he gets a bump in pay. The only difference between Tom Brady and the worst player in the league is a few years of step increases. And if a player makes it through his third season, he can never be cut from the roster until he chooses to retire, except in the most extreme cases of misconduct.
Imagine if sports were managed like teachers are managed. Rather than think about how it is that our schools are failing us, consider this. How is it even possible that our schools are succeeding to the degree they do? The industry drives out innovation. It drives out competition. It drives out achievers. It is left with far FAR too many who teach for three reasons:
There are great, really great teachers in this country. Let’s honor them and the work they do by firing the teachers who really REALLY suck.