John Katzman, the executive chairman at 2tor, published “Putting the Schools in Charge,” a hard-hitting piece on education reform today, critiquing the innovation-resistant education sector. Katzman points to three main impediments that are holding education back despite efforts found in No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Race to the Top (RttT), Investing in Innovation (i3) fund, and Common Core Standards:
- Compensation, and
- The absence of useful data.
He points to Finland as an effective edreform model in the eyes of education reformers, highlighting its curriculum, teachers, and testing scores. Yet, he argues that their top-down approach will fall short of success in the United States as we have size, diversity, and income disparity working against the effectiveness of such models.
“As education is a public good and requires public funding, proposed structures should be measured by the incentives they will create for schools, districts, and teachers to produce great student outcomes at reasonable expense,” says Katzman.
Katzman prescribes four goals to drive innovation in education:
- Empower schools by increasing local competition, school choice, and accountability
- Offer teachers a new deal, targeting compensation, pensions and tenure
- Align assessments to curricula standards like Common Core by offering requirements to curriculum providers; and
- Improve data access among schools, districts, parents and researchers.
Katzman believes these proposals will move the United States education system away from command-and-control toward an agile marketplace that fosters innovation. The answer, he says, is the new Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which emphasizes competition and innovation in the public school system.
Katzman concludes, “American ideals shouldn’t just be taught in the classroom; they should shape that classroom.”