Friday Thoughts: In my own words (recent media commentary)

Posted on January 27, 2012

Interview for In These Times:

[I]t’s much easier to point blame at those working within the system–like teachers–than to actually raise the revenues to provide the resources necessary to really improve the system–to pay sufficient wages to attract and retain top college graduates and to provide the working conditions that would make teaching more appealing–including smaller total student loads… and higher quality infrastructure, materials, supplies, equipment and other supports.

In my interview with Geoff Mulvihill of AP:

In response to what reforms are needed most in New Jersey?

From a research angle, if you looked at the high-performing and the low-performing schools and you asked yourself what’s different about them, well, our highest-performing schools also have step-structured pay scales, collective bargained agreements, tenure, union contracts as do our low-performing schools. That’s not a differentiating factor.

These things that we’re talking about like merit pay, disrupting union contracts and collective bargaining don’t tend to be the things that the high-performing schools are doing.|head

Follow up in a similar question

If you look at the biggest differences between the schools that are doing well and the schools that are doing poorly, there may be differences in teaching quality. There may be differences in skill-set of the teachers who are sorting themselves among the more and less desirable schools.

It may be that we’ve got some inequities in teaching quality. But to suggest that those inequities are a function of not having merit pay or they’re a function of having collective bargaining and a union presence doesn’t seem to fit when those structures also exist in the highly successful and affluent districts.|head

On where to go from here:

I think we’ve got to keep up the effort of targeting resources toward the high-need districts, and the key is that equitable and adequate funding — and this is my big punchline — is the necessary condition for everything. If you want to run a good charter school, if you want to run a good public school, you’ve got to have enough money to do a good job.

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