Monday, September 10, 2007

Mayor Bloomberg on NCLB

Okay, The Mayor hasn't exactly declared, but he's saying more about education than most of the candidates. And what he has to say is rooted in hands-on reform rather than hypothetical policy tweaking. So that makes him newsworthy to us.

Here's The Mayor in today's Washington Post discussing No Child Left Behind. At first glance the words sound uncontroversial, but this issue of the federal government possibly stepping in to crack the whip on inequitable distribution of teachers is likely to prove a big deal:

No factor in a school matters more to the academic success of children than the quality of the teachers and principal. To close the achievement gap, we must close the teacher-quality gap. Too often, it's the least qualified and least experienced who teach poor and minority children.
First, we must require that states and school districts distribute the best teachers equitably across schools. In the past, the federal government has only paid lip service to equitable distribution.
More important, we need to support teachers to help them continuously grow in the profession and increase the supply of excellent teachers in all schools. Last week, Congress took a step in this direction by approving funding for scholarships for excellent undergraduate students who commit to teaching in high-need public schools.
We should also build career ladders that reward teachers for gaining new knowledge and for taking on leadership roles in their schools. We should assist principals through instruction in management and the use of data to help their schools succeed. And teachers and principals who excel deserve a raise. While respecting collective bargaining agreements, we should offer performance pay to hardworking and talented teachers based on fair, proven and objective criteria. When school districts collaborate with local teachers unions, performance pay systems work -- and children benefit.
If we don't treat teachers as valued partners in our public schools, we'll continue to face an unacceptable teacher shortage, and children will pay the price.

Richard Whitmire

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