Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Education Reform

The Post's Outlook section had A Chance to Say Yes that describes the situation for Obama's education reform agenda. Obama's ideas for changing our schools are:
  • Merit pay
  • Get rid of ineffective teachers
  • Try more charters, but with accountability
Full disclosure #1: I am a public school guy. I attended, taught at, and send Boy Kid (and soon Girl Kid) to public schools. I even married a public school woman.

Full disclosure #2: I work for a company that runs virtual charter schools. We also run our own private academy and provide curriculum to some private schools.

Merit pay and getting rid of ineffective teachers are opposite sides of the same coin and are tough challenges. Determining which teachers are getting it done and which are not is easy to talk about, but isn't easy to accomplish. Educating kids is not like building cars or selling widgets or hitting a baseball. Success in the classroom is dependent on many factors.

We need innovation in our schools nand charters provide a reasonable pathway to innovation. As long as each school is held accountable, I am all for charter schools (and have been since before my time working for a company that has skin in the game). On the other hand, I am not a fan of vouchers that allow parents to send their kids to private schools.

My problems with vouchers are two-fold. First, I take the separation of church and state seriously. Having public funds going to support church schools is a big problem. Second, we need to find a way to make our public schools work. Taking money out of public shools and putting it in to private schools seems like giving up.

I hope Obama is able to get some real traction with his ideas. It's a difficult road, but an important one to travel.

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