27 de Janeiro de 2010
Why is it so difficult to get change in the educational system in our country? That seems to be one of the most intractable systems, either because of the boards that are there or the unions or the–what is it about our education system that makes it so difficult to reform?
Well, until recently there was no room for experimentation. And charter schools came in–although they’re only a few percent of the schools–and they tried out new models. And a lot of those have worked. Not all of them. But that format showed us some very good ideas, and among those ideas is that you measure teachers, you give them more feedback. And–but people are afraid you’d put in a system that will fire the wrong person or have high overhead, and that’s a legitimate fear. So actually having some districts where it works and then getting the 90% of the teachers who liked it, who thrived, who did improve to share that might allow us to switch–not have capricious things but really help people get better.
But don’t public things like schools and medical care need to have the power to fail, need to fire the wrong person every now and again? It’s never going to be perfect. Aren’t people’s expectations of what it’s supposed to be so precious that you never get change in the positive direction?
That’s right. But you have to have a measure. And it’s very tough to agree on a measure. You know, right now the health system rewards the person who just does more treatment, so it’s quantity of output, not the kind of preventative care and measuring and saying, “Okay, you do that well.” Or, “You teach this kid really well.” We haven’t been able to agree on that. And without that it’s a problem.