Bob Compton at Two Million Minutes is blogging about education in New Orleans. Like Compton, I’m impressed by New Orleans’ commitment to rebuild its school system and bring in charter schools. On the other hand, I find it disconcerting that nothing less than a natural disaster will instigate reform.
Compton lists three key components to success in New Orleans. I don’t get this one:
implement a rigorous instructional system that is high standard and can be followed to teach effectively even by the weakest teacher
What is an “instructional system”? Is that new jargon for “curriculum”? Weak teachers should be taught to improve, or be fired. You can’t wait and hope that some other factor will make up for weak teaching, because teaching determines the classroom experience.
I’m all for the other two items — namely, certifying talented teachers “regardless of where they come from” (hear, hear!), and spending enough time on crucial subjects. However, I think we should bear in mind that the relative importance of academic disciplines is subjective. Reading and arithmetic would require the most class time in an elementary school serving disadvantaged students, while music might be an essential course in a high school for the arts. Parental choice is a good way to sort out those priorities — a lesson that New Orleans has taken to heart, given that half of the schools in the Recovery District are charters, and they’re aiming for 80 percent.