Tuesday, September 18, 2012

No Teachers, It is Possible to Have High Achieving Students from Diverse, Low Income Backgrounds

Yes Teachers It is Hard Work – But It is What You Are Paid to Do, and Can Do

As the Chicago Teachers strike tries to fade to its highly deserved oblivion, leaving in its trail disgust at the how the Teachers Union acted against its own best interests, an examination of education and teachers unions in other countries is highly informative.  A Wall Street Journal article focuses on Finland and Canada.

Just about every country in the developed world has a teachers' union, so the mere presence of a union doesn't determine the quality of a country's schools. There is, however, a significant relationship between the professionalism of the union and the health of an education system. The all-important issue is not how easy it is to fire the worst teachers; it's how to elevate the entire craft without going to war with teachers.

Tell Us Again How This Helps
While Finland’s experience is interesting, the experience of Ontario is far more relevant to the United States.  There the combination of a strong commitment to education and the funding to back that commitment has produced very good results.

The plan that emerged put pressure on Ontario's schools to improve results and also offered more help to educators. This worked in part because Canada already had fairly rigorous and selective education colleges, so teachers had the skills to adapt to these changes. And by giving in to teachers' requests for smaller elementary-class sizes, politicians bought themselves enormous good will.

Wow, demanding results and giving teachers the resources to get those results, who would have thought that would work.  But it did, and the important thing is this.

 Despite a diverse population of students, a quarter of whom were immigrants, the province's high-school graduation rate rose from 68% to 82%. Teacher turnover also declined dramatically. In 2009, Ontario was one of the few places in the world (aside from Finland) where 15-year-olds scored very high on international tests regardless of their socioeconomic background.

The payoff for teachers, well if you provide good education you get public support.

The system in Ontario became "a virtuous circle," says Marc Tucker, author of "Surpassing Shanghai," a book about top-performing education systems. "When the young people came out of their training programs, they were damn good teachers. Because of that, they were able to raise public and political confidence—and when that happened, it made it possible for them to get higher salaries and even higher quality recruits into teaching."

Could this work in America?  Absolutely, Ontario is just like America, and anyone visiting it would note that other than those troublesome speed limit signs in kilometers, traveling Ontario is like, well like traveling Illinois

But to make it work somebody has to lead the way.  Yes, we’re talking to you teachers unions.  C’mon you don’t expect the politicians to do the job do you?

No comments:

Post a Comment