Every education system in the world is being reformed at the moment and it’s not enough. Reform is no use anymore, because that’s simply improving a broken model. What we need — and the word’s been used many times during the course of the past few days — is not evolution, but a revolution in education.
To me, the lesson is that while there are no silver bullets to chip away at poverty or improve national competitiveness, improving the ranks of teachers is part of the answer. That’s especially true for needy kids, who often get the weakest teachers. That should be the civil rights scandal of our time.
The implication is that we need rigorous teacher evaluations, more pay for good teachers and more training and weeding-out of poor teachers. The need for more pay is simple. In the 1950s, outstanding women like Grady didn’t have many alternatives, and they became teachers. Grady was black, so she didn’t have many options other than teaching black children in a segregated school.
Today, women like Grady often become doctors, lawyers or bankers — professions with far higher salaries. If we want to recruit and retain the best teachers, we simply have to pay more — while also more aggressively thinning out those who don’t succeed. It’s worth it.