Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Education system of America...maybe there's a glimmer of hope?

Talk about a crazy concept! As reported in the New York Times this week, a school in New York will be opening this fall with an experimental program where they actually pay teachers based on the value they provide...and the school actually looks at the value of teachers as a GREAT asset.

The school is called the Equity Project and will be paying its grade school teachers 6-figure incomes. The teachers will also be elibible for bonuses up to $25k. As a comparison, last I checked, the average starting salary for a teacher here in Utah is $28k...so in other words, their potential bonus is as much as my starting salary. As another interesting note...the administration in the school makes less than the teachers (something unheard of in the current system...which is part of the problem...far too many of the good teachers advance their way into administration so they can actually make ends meet).

The school is starting small with 8 teachers and 120 students, but plans to grow to 480 teachers and 28 teachers in coming years. The article describes the application/interview process as sort of like American Idol for teachers. They hired a dream team of teachers who are truly passionate about their subjects, about teaching, and about the kids.

What was very interesting (and sad) to me was a comment from one of the teachers about the interview process. He said "It's so refreshing that somebody comes to a teacher and says 'Show me what you know'...This is the first time in 30 years of teaching that anybody has been really interested in what I do.". To me, that statement is a HUGE reflection on what is truly wrong with our education system. Administration, government, and even parents to some extent, are far too concerned with test scores and attendance rates and other less important factors than being certain the person teaching the class actually knows and is passionate about what he/she is teaching and uses effective methods to ENGAGE students in the learning process.

I truly hope this idea pans out and shows promise. I know not every district can afford this kind of program currently, but if it has success, it could turn government officials on their ears and make them pay attention and finally see where the problem is. Who knows, in 5-10 years, the U.S. might have an education worth bragging about rather than hanging our heads in shame and foolishly asking ourselves why it is that we're seeing such an increase in crime, unemployment, bankruptcies, etc. I personally see the decline of our society as being able to be tracked to two main things...the disintegration of good family environments and a lack of effective and worthwhile education.

No comments: