The civil rights issue of our time will require replacing old, non-excellent teachers with fresh new ones.
It is a true fact that young teachers are not only “fresher” but also more innovative and excellent. Now confirmed by a growing body of evidence (see scientific chart below), this scientific finding presents us with a quandary, not to mention a conundrum. How do we slough off all of the old, non-excellent teachers with their millstones of experience and pension obligations? And how much more unpleasant do we have to make their jobs before they finally get the hint and head through the double doors once and for all?
First, a brief review of the mountain of mounting evidence. Last week saw the release of yet another study confirming once and for all that academies of excellence and innovation in Boston are even more outstanding than previously believed. Not only are teachers at the city’s six charter high schools *crushing* the achievement gap in every way, but they are also looking great while doing it. According to the study, just 5% of charter teachers are 49 years or older, compared with 35% in the failed and failing public high schools. More than 75% of the charter teachers are under the age of 32, which according to the chart below highly correlates with excellence. Note: this excellence is currently available in English only. While more than 30% of students in the Boston Public Schools are still learning English, the study’s authors were unable to locate enough English language learners in Boston’s charter schools to determine whether they benefit from enhanced excellence. (See page 33.)
Now that we have seen for ourselves the power of freshness in action, how do we start getting rid of all of the old baddies who are single-handedly causing the achievement gap to widen with their middle-age spread? Excellent news, reader. While Boston’s brand new teacher evaluation system is being widely condemned by experts for failing to fail enough teachers, the system is proving remarkably effective at revealing the nonexcellence of older teachers. Fourteen percent of teachers over 50 were found to suffer from excellence depletion, compared to just 6% of teachers in their twenties. Note: minority teachers were also far more likely to be rated as “non-excellent” than their white peers, but we will save this somewhat *awkward* issue for another day.
Standing for children
Since experience is clearly a liability in teaching, wouldn’t it make sense to pass a law prohibiting school administrators from considering experience in the case of layoffs? Reader: this is where our feel good story transmorphs into a feel great story. You see, thanks to a great deal of standing for children and a surging grassroots movement, Massachusetts now has just such a law in place. Called Great Teachers, Great Schools, it will finally give students unparalleled access to freshness and excellence, no matter which side of the excellence divide they inhabit. (Note: for more information do not go to http://www.greatteachersgreatschools.org/ as Stand for Children allowed that URL to expire after the grassroots movement completed its surge.)
Lifting the freshness cap
Meanwhile, grassroots support for lifting Massachusetts’ artificial cap on outstandingness, innovation—and yes, freshness—is also surging. And as Boston follows the proven path of success and excellence followed by Washington, DC, Chicago and other cities, we will have plenty of opportunities to replace LIFO-lifers and their low expectations with fresh, more excellent teachers. With Boston’s six charter schools that serve high-school aged students producing an average of 36 seniors per year, replicating the success of those schools citywide will require opening an additional 107 charter high schools. Now that’s a lot of fresh meat.
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