Local Murder Factories

Whenever I read about a young person committing a crime I can’t help but wonder, how was this kid doing in school? I imagine poorly, struggling both with academics and behavior. What is the school systems solution? Why it’s to push them along until they are somebody else’s problem. One 14 year old was pushed along and became the problem of a 17 year, a 17 year old that he murdered.

Some of our schools have been called drop out factories, well if you ask me they are producing other things too, like violence and murder. They are becoming murder factories. The latest (sic) graduate is 14-year-old Earnest Thomas Bell, previously convicted of battery on a school board employee, who shot a 17 year old three times including once in the head.

Teachers today ignore so much bad behavior; if we try and step up we are branded as having bad classroom management and our jobs or potential bonuses can be on the line. Though it’s not like anything substantial happens. It’s not like children receive real consequences for their behavior. Crime overall might be down here in Jacksonville but crime committed by school age children is an epidemic fueled by policies that tie the hands of teachers and looks the other way.

When is it enough friends? When are the citizens of Jacksonville going to stand up and demand the school system takes back its classrooms? Hopefully it’s before violence committed by a young person takes the life of a teacher or takes the life of someone in your family.

What would have happened if Ernest, struggling in school had gotten the help, or the consequences he needed? Who knows another child, a 17 year old might still be alive.

Lame Duck School Board votes on

The school board met this past Monday night and voted 7-0 to approve four new charter schools, to extend the superintendants contract another 2 years and to approve new changes to the strategic plan. It’s not unusual for the school board to approve measures 7-0. They have been more of a rubber stamp for the district rather than an independent board concerned with the cities children, parents, teachers and stake holders. What was different however was its lame duck status. You see three members; Nancy Bronner, Brenda Priestly-Jackson and Vicki Drake will not be on the school board any longer come Wednesday. This however did not stop them from abstaining or passing on voting on measures that will affect the district for years to come.

These three ladies have been on the school board for the last eight years. Arguably the worse eight years for Jacksonville’s public education since generations of blatant racism ended in the sixties. Now there have been problems in the intervening forty years but nothing compared to the about face the district took from a school system filled with promise heading in a positive direction to one filled with have and have not schools, crushed teacher morale, and a student body pushed along without discipline and the skills they need to be successful. This and the lame duck decisions they made Monday night will be their legacy.

The citizens of Jacksonville must now sit back and hope the three newest members of the school board will discard the rubber stamps that had been standard issue to new school board members and decide to represent the whole city not just the superintendent and administrators at 1701 Prudential Drive.

Superintendant turns down less than one percent raise, lauded as hero

With some fanfare it was announced that the superintendent would be turning down a raise. He had been allowed to take a raise comparable to the ones teachers get. You will forgive me if I refrain from giving him a humanitarian award especially since the typical teacher receives less than a one percent raise a year. This is the same raise the superintendent sought to deny teachers earlier this year when he his band of sycophants, I am sorry the school board, declared financial urgency.

Sadly this is just one more example of the Times Union, who has mentioned it in several pieces and who takes so many opportunities to paint the superintendant in a positive light that I am beginning to think he must have pictures of the editorial staff with either a live boy or a dead girl, joining forces with the superintendant as the city’s teachers and children languish and the city itself heads in the wrong direction.

Good job Times Union, what’s next a humanitarian award?

If Ron Littlepage loves the superintendant so much he should marry him

I really don’t understand why Ron Littlepage of the Times Union keeps giving Ed Pratt Dannals the school superintendent a pass. This time Littlepage celebrates him because he turned down 20k in car and cell phone allowances, something he probably could have afforded anyways with his 275k salary (total compensation 08-98, 339k according to the Action News web-site). Three years ago when he was appointed he received over a hundred thousand dollar raise from his previous salary. He probably does not need a raise as he makes almost as much as the superintendents of Clay and St. Johns County combined and a hundred thousand dollars more than the mayor.

Do you think we are getting an adequate return on our plus 300 thousand dollar a year investment? If so, is it the poor graduation rate, the high drop out rate or the fact less than half our high school kids read at grade level, or maybe it’s the lack of discipline or the poor teacher moral that you think warrants it?

Fund Education Now Calls Amendment 8 A Shameful Waste of Tax Dollars

Orlando, Florida…FundEducationNow.org denounced the Florida Legislature today for squandering hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars by running the Amendment 8 campaign, placing it on the ballot and defending it in court.

According to the St. Pete Times, State Representative Will Weatherford, an Amendment 8 sponsor, stated that if Amendment 8 fails at the ballot on Tuesday, “we will possibly look at other statutory fixes.”

“There has always been a statutory solution to class size. Legislators who sit on key Education Committees have told us this repeatedly behind closed doors. Finally, someone has slipped up and the truth is out,” said Linda Kobert, partner, Fund Education Now.org.

“Representative Weatherford and the Florida Legislature have spent upwards of a half a million dollars of tax payer money on this folly. We could have hired a dozen new teachers, filled several libraries with books or restored some of the painful cuts to our kids with this money,” added Kathleen Oropeza, partner, Fund Education Now. org

“It’s unfortunate that the Legislature seemingly pursued a distracting, manipulative and expensive amendment campaign when a simple statutory fix was there all along. The people of Florida deserve better than that,” said Christine Bramuchi, partner, Fund Education Now.org

Founded in 2009, by Kathleen Oropeza, Linda Kobert and Christine Bramuchi, three Orlando parents of public school students, FundEducationNow.org is a nonpartisan, non-union group of citizen-advocates.

The group is a plaintiff in the current lawsuit against the state of Florida that alleges that the legislature has not fulfilled its “paramount duty” to provide a free, high quality, safe, efficient and uniform system of public education.

Part of a broad alliance of education advocates, FundEducationNow.org is on a mission to inspire advocacy in ordinary citizens and bring parents into a thoughtful discussion about public education reform In Florida.

Fund Education Now partners are available to speak to radio, print or television journalists about our position on Fair Districts Amendments 5 & 6 and the Florida education crisis. To schedule an interview or receive more information, contact: Kathleen Oropeza, kathleeno@clf.rr.com; 407.234.8948

Source: www.examiner.com/political-buzz-in-st-petersburg/florida-amendment-8-vote-brings-last-minute-surprise

Threats to school reform … are within school reform

This was written by Mike Rose, who is on the faculty of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and is the author of “Possible Lives: The Promise of Public Education in America” and “Why School?: Reclaiming Education for all of Us.”

By Mike Rose

Here’s an all-too-familiar storyline about reform, from education to agricultural development: The reform has run its course, has not achieved its goals, and the reformers and other analysts speculate in policy briefs or opinion pages about what went wrong. The interesting thing is that the reform’s flaws were usually evident from the beginning.
As someone who has lived through several periods of educational reform and has studied schools and taught for a long time, I see characteristics of the current reform movement, as powerful as it is, that could lead to unintended and undesirable consequences. But when reform is going strong it can become a closed ideological system, deaf to the cautionary tale.

I have six areas of concern:

Tone down the rhetoric

In the manifesto” How to Fix Our Schools”” published on October 10 in The Washington Post, New York City’s chancellor, Joel Klein and 14 colleagues wrote: “It’s time for all the adults – superintendents, educators, elected officials, labor unions, and parents alike – to start acting like we are responsible for the future of our children.” The collective “we” is used here, but it’s pretty clear rhetorically that the signatures believe that they are already on the side of the angels. Anyone who is not on board with their reforms is acting out of self interest.

This is not the way to foster the unified effort called for in the sentence. Reformers have been masterful at characterizing anyone who differs from their approach as “traditionalists” who want to maintain the status quo, putting their own retrograde professional interests ahead of the good of children. Teachers unions are the arch-villain in this Manichean tale of good and evil, and schools of education are right behind.
I’m reminded of the toxic rhetoric of patriotism that characterized the 2008 presidential campaign. So, if I may, in the interest of the children, I suggest a less adversarial language. Many of the people on the receiving end of it have spent a lifetime working for the same goals voiced by the reformers, and the reformers need their expertise.

There is another language issue, and that’s the unrelenting characterization of public schools as failures. To be sure, this crisis rhetoric predates the current reformers, going back to the 1983 document “A Nation at risk”” Since then, the language of crisis and failure has intensified. Crisis talk can give rise to action, but heard consistently enough and long enough, such rhetoric can also lead to despair and paralysis.

There is a crisis in American education, and it involves mostly poor children, and thus it is a moral as well as educational outrage. But it is just not accurate to characterize public education itself as being in a 30-year crisis.

I can’t tell you how many professional people I meet who, upon finding out what I do, erupt with damning statements about public schools: they are a catastrophe, we are doomed, the situation is hopeless. What is telling is that they are not speaking from experience; they don’t have kids, or their kids are in private school, or are grown. They are voicing the new common sense. Unless you’re in the free market camp of the reform movement, this reaction is not good news, for it suggests hopelessness and withdrawal from support for public education.

The problem with “cleaning house”

Some districts are so dysfunctional that clearing them out seems the best option. But the history of reform in education – and other domains as well – reveals the shortsightedness of such action.

In even the most beleaguered school district there are good teachers and administrators, and their skills and local wisdom are tossed out in the clean sweep. And in most communities there are grass roots movements to improve the schools, and they are typically ignored.

Finally, this approach predictably is going to piss people off, not only those who are part of the problem, but many others in the community as well. No one likes to be pushed around – as the voters in Washington D.C. just demonstrated. Clean sweep reform shakes things up and attracts the media, which might be useful. But these tactics can generate more heat than light. Though it is tedious and calls for great skill, a more targeted and discriminating approach that builds on what is good has a better chance of long-term success.

Be careful of the “Big Idea”

Reformers are often driven by a big idea, a grand process or structure that will transform the status quo. Not too long ago, the big idea in education reform was turning large schools into small ones. For No Child Left Behind it was a system of high stakes test that would drive achievement. One appealing big idea today is charter schools.

The problem with the big idea approach to school reform is that large-scale educational problems have more than one cause and thus require more than one solution.
The mother of big ideas in contemporary school reform is the belief that we can capture dynamic phenomena like learning or teaching with a few numerical measures. This is the logical fallacy of recertification, and the last century of psychological science is filled with unfortunate examples, as Stephen J. Gould trenchantly observed in The Mismeasure of a Man.

Though most reformers acknowledge the problems with NCLB, they continue to try to build a better technocratic mousetrap, not questioning the assumptions behind their use of testing and accountability systems. We’re seeing all this play out with currently popular “value added” methods of evaluating teachers as reformers ignore the concerns raised by statisticians and measurement experts.

One more manifestation of this way of thinking is the attempt to develop quantitative models of teacher effectiveness. In a nutshell, the approach attempts to pinpoint specific teaching behaviors and qualities and correlate them with a numerical measure of student achievement.

There’s another logical problem here, the reductive fallacy –the attempt to explain a complex phenomenon by reducing it to its basic components. Even if researchers are able to specify a wide range of behaviors and qualities, the further problem is that it’s likely, given the history of such attempts, that the result will be a small number of significant correlations with the measure of achievement – which itself might be flawed.

We’ll end up with a thin composite of good teaching.

We just witnessed with NCLB the way high-stakes testing can narrow what gets taught a reductive model of teacher effectiveness could lead to a corresponding narrowing of teaching itself.

Focus on instruction

It is characteristic of contemporary school reform to focus on organizational structure and broad testing and accountability systems, but change at that level is a necessary but not sufficient condition for reform. As Deborah Meier, the maven of the original small schools movement, once said: You can have crappy small schools too. What goes on in the classroom makes all the difference.

It could be argued that standardized tests give us a window onto learning, but it is a pretty narrow window, distant from the cognitive give and take of instruction.

And it could also be said that aforementioned measures of teacher effectiveness will bring characteristics of good teachers to the fore. Even if they work, these methods won’t help us think about curriculum, the organization of the classroom, what we want students to do intellectually, how we address academic under-preparation, and so on.

Instruction is the gigantic missing element in reform, and without it, all the structural changes in the world won’t get us very far.

Privileging youth over experience
Reformers have a tendency to downplay the value of experience and to celebrate the new. You will rarely see a career public school teacher featured in reform media, but will see young teachers in Kipp school or Teach for America volunteers.

Furthermore, ask yourself, when in a reform document have you found reference to the rich Western tradition of educational thought, from Plato through Horace Mann and W.E.B. DuBois to the 20th century treasure trove of research on learning. It seems that the reform movement’s managerial-technocratic orientation has an anti-intellectual streak to it.

I greatly admire the young people who sign up for Teach for America or work diligently in schools like KIPP. I began my career in education via an earlier alternative program, Teacher Corps, so I know the exhilaration and challenge. But I also know how green I was, and how the wisdom of veteran teachers saved me from big blunders.

What I’m concerned about is the way young teachers are used in reform publicity, what they symbolize. The message is not simply the accurate one that we need to attract bright and committed young people to teaching, but that the new and the alternative will save our schools.

In what other profession would such an appeal be made? Can you imagine proposals to staff hospitals with biology majors or the courts with pre-law graduates?

Merit Pay could be related to experience, though many merit pay schemes link pay to test scores. The original Race to the Top proposal did mention professional development and career trajectories, though I haven’t read much more since. This cult of the new is interwoven with the reformers’ attempts to remove seniority and to not consider teachers’ academic credentials.

However these issues play out in management-union negotiations, reformers are going to have to develop ways to draw on experience and expertise, not with add-on rewards but as central to the reform enterprise.

Don’t downplay poverty
Low socioeconomic status does not condemn a child to low achievement. This fact has led some reformers to downplay – and in some cases dismiss – the harmful effect poverty can have on the lives of children in school. To raise the issue of poverty is to risk being accused of making excuses or of harboring “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

I grew up poor and have worked a fair amount of my life with low-income students. To be poor affects everything from health to housing – which weighs mightily on children.

There is also the extraordinary gap in educational resources. While a poor kid is trying to work through an outdated textbook at the kitchen table, his affluent peer across town is being tutored in algebra in her own room. Only someone who hasn’t been poor could say that all this can be overcome by school. It is telling that the Harlem Children’s zone a rightfully celebrated crown jewel of reform, incorporates health and social services with schooling.

Reformers slip into either/or thinking here. They are right to insist that schools provide poor kids with a top-flight education, but to insist on excellence does not require negating the brutal realities of being poor in America.

If education involves children’s psychological and social as well as cognitive well-being, then we have to address poverty, and the reformers have an unprecedented bully pulpit from which to do it.

Wealth and income gaps are widening in the United States, and no less a figure than Warren Buffet observed that we’re in the middle of class warfare, and the rich are winning.

Which is all the more reason to get school reform right this time.

I’d like to thank Megan Franke, Kris Gutierrez, Felipe Martinez, Janelle Scott and Matt Stevens for their help.


Vote the ultimate special interest: our children

Every year politicians take care of special interests; bankers, homebuilders, bottled water producers, luxury box owners and even yacht salesmen got a substantial share of the pie last year. Sadly however there is one special interest that routinely loses out which is undoubtedly the ultimate special interest we have and that’s our children.

This November why don’t we say enough is enough. That we’re no longer going to sit on the sidelines and allow the powers-that-be in Tallahassee make a few rich beyond our wildest dreams while at the same time they fund our children fiftieth out of fifty and force them to attend a school system that doesn’t support or value their needs, taught by a group, teachers, that have unfairly become the scapegoats for all that is wrong in education.

I get how people must be frustrated with Teachers. Waiting for Superman, Race to the Top, Senate Bill Six, it seems you can’t turn your head without teacher quality being called into question, and maybe rightfully so, after all they are on the front lines of a battle we seem to be losing.

The thing is you must understand how frustrated teachers are too. They are on the frontlines but at the same time they have had their, weapons, their tools of the trade stripped from them. Gone are creativity and flexibility, replaced by a rigid doctrine that I imagine the powers-that-be think a highly trained chimp could carry out.

I remind you that this debate about teacher quality has only erupted after a decade long failed experiment in high stakes testing and a one size fits all curriculum that tries to fit every child into the same hole regardless of what type peg they might be. It was only after both children and teachers were put in situations where success was hard to achieve that teacher quality began to be questioned.

Teachers did not decide to gut discipline, teachers did not decide to get rid of teaching the trades and the arts, teachers did not promise the moon with the lottery but only deliver cheese and teachers did not replace a whole curriculum with teaching to one test. Yet they are the ones blamed for the failed results. Enough lets hold the policy makers who have never been in a classroom, like John Thrasher and he crafters of amendment 8 responsible and vote them out

Vote against amendment 8, another thinly veiled attempt for the legislature to shirk its responsibility to fund education.

Vote against John Thrasher who has only met one teacher he liked, his daughter and she only did it briefly.

Vote against Rick Scott, whose education plans other than to reinstate senate bill six are vague at best.

When are we going to say enough is enough? When are we as a society going to make providing for our children it’s foremost priority, after all what’s more important, yachts, bottled water, another subdivision, you tell me? There is only one special interested we should insist our politicians take care of. And despite the fact that they don’t vote and they don’t contribute to campaigns, they are still the most important special around and it is time we decided to start treating them that way.

Duval County could learn something from Jones County

The Jones County school system in Georgia has decided not to seek federal Race to the Top funds. Their Superintendent William Mathews said Thursday the money comes with stipulations that are not in the district’s best interests. They were scheduled to recieve $573,000 over four years.

The fist thing I thought when I saw this was. wow. Somebody in education stood up and did the right even if it wasn’t the easiset thing and lets face it in these tough times it’s hard to turn down money.

There are often many strings attached when money comes to town. Strings imposed by far off beaurocrats in ivory towers who have no idea whats going on. School sytems like children aren’t all cut from the same cloth. They have individual intersts, desires and priorities but this money says if you take it, you do this.

Take Jacksonville for interest. Inclusion is the mantra spreading through the city like a wild fire and like a wild fire it brings destruction with it. We are now incorporateing special education children into regular education classrooms and this is happeneing regardless if the teachers, or students are prepared or not. What string was this money attached to. I don’t know but I can tell you the consequences it is having.

Classes are being disrupted and many childrens education is being dumbed down. Children and teachers woefully unprepared are being put in no win situations. It’s another one size fits all solution rammed down the throats of the people education policy makers should be trying to help but once again have handicapped.

I applaud the leaders of Jones County for standing up and saying, no thanks, your money as much as we could use it will make our issues worse not better.

Waiting for sanity in education reform

By George Wood

This fall brought not only the start of another school year but plenty of noise about schools as well. A movie, a manifesto, and a mayoral election in Washington D.C. all amplified the ongoing debate about who the real education reformers are. Noise and more noise.

Thank goodness for the sane voices that arose in the midst of all this. There is Diane Ravich with her continued campaign that brings us back to what is really at stake when filmmakers try to bend public opinion. And Mike Rose, always close to the ground, reminding us of what school reform really involves.

Now comes the news that, in light of whatever is going to happen on Nov. 2nd, the Obama administration is looking for ways to work with the next Congress and has targeted, among other things, No Child Left Behind


With the level of animosity and acrimony currently filling the airways it is hard to imagine that Congress and the president will do anything together, let alone the long overdue overhaul of NCLB. I worry about the common ground they might actually reach: grading teachers by student tests scores, breaking unions, putting every kid in a charter school. None of these strategies has been proven as a recipe for the schools our children need and our communities deserve, but lack of evidence has never stopped us before.

With all of this in mind I have decided to trek off to Washington this weekend and join Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity, Why? Because I want to talk to some folks and see if they might accept a few basic principles around what it would take to shore up our public school system. I want to see if they are willing to take seriously the Jeffersonian ideal that public education is vital to a healthy democracy, and the notion that now, as much as any time in our history, we need such a system of public schools.

I haven’t been invited to speak at the rally, but if Stewart calls, here is what I might say:
“America’s public schools are a national treasure and it is past time that we started treating them as such. Every one of you here today probably has a schoolteacher to thank for the fact that you can read, add, and think rationally. A teacher who opened your mind to new ideas, who helped you speak that mind and listen when others spoke theirs. It’s a great system, and it opens its doors to every kid no matter their race or nationality, no matter what language they speak or if they can speak at all, no matter rich or poor, motivated or not, whole or impaired.

“We have spent too much time the blaming our schools for all that ails us. Sure schools could do better—but so could the banks, big business, and Congress. Schools, our teachers, and our kids, are not responsible for the economic strains our nation feels; or for the loosening bonds that threaten the civil discourse our republic requires. They are, however, part of the solution to these threats to our social security. But only if we come together on a few things in the name of a saner approach to making sure every kid has a good public school to attend.

“First, we have to admit that as much as schools can do, they can’t do it alone. It is hard for a child who is homeless, hungry, or in pain to heed the lessons of her teacher. America should, as part of education policy, work to see that every child is safe and secure, has good medical care, a roof over her head, and food in her stomach.

“Second, we must all admit that there is no doing a good school system on the cheap. America is 14th among the 16 industrialized nations in how much we spend on our kids’ education. But it is not just how much we spend, it is where we spend it. In the Harlem Children’s Zone, a project that considers all of what it takes to raise a child, the charter schools are spending one-third more than the public schools in the city, and they still are struggling.

“This is not a condemnation of that important work—it just means we should admit that we are going to have to invest heavily and in a targeted way if we want our schools to work for all our kids.

“Third, over 90% of our schools are good old regular public schools—not a charter or a choice, just where kids go to school. If we are serious about every child having a good school, it won’t be by creating a few fancy alternative schools. It will be by improving all of our schools.

“Fourth, we already know what works. All our schools–charters, magnets, public–have had successes, but we don’t seem to learn from them. Successful schools are places filled with good teachers who are well supported, where strong connections are built with students and families, where kids do real work not just read textbooks or listen to lectures, and where kids are evaluated by what they can do not by what test question they can answer. They also are places not segregated by social class.

“So what would a sane person, perchance a sane Congress, do to help and support our kids and schools? Hate to be simplistic, but here you go—We have to shore up our safety net for all kids to have access to health care, food, and shelter; use federal resources to get dollars to kid in the most need; and focus on all schools using the lessons learned from our most innovative and successful schools and getting the regulations and rules that prevent this change out of the way.

“This is what I wish for my school, your school, all schools. We don’t need Superman. We just need some sanity.”

Taken from the Washington Post: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/waiting-for-sanity.html


From the Shanker Blog, Posted October 29, 2010

On most sports teams, coaches assess players in part by considering who is available to replace them. Teams with “deep benches” have more leeway in making personnel changes, because quality replacements are available.
The same goes for teaching. Those who aggressively wish to start firing larger numbers of teachers every year rely on an obvious but critical assumption (often unstated): that schools and districts can find better replacements.

In other words, it is both counterproductive (and very expensive) to fire teachers if you can’t replace them with a more effective alternative. Even those few commentators who have addressed this matter sometimes ignore another important fact: The teacher labor market is about to change dramatically, with a massive wave of retirements lasting 5-10 years. Thus, most current assumptions about the stability and quality of the applicant pool over this period may be unsupportable.

The numbers are a bit staggering.

Currently, including retirements, about nine percent of teachers leave the profession annually – that’s around 300,000 teachers every year. Many of them move to non-teaching jobs in education, and some return to the classroom at a later point, but most need to be replaced.

Then there is the upcoming wave of retiring baby boomers. This wave should (depending on the economy) soon begin in earnest (the first boomers turn 65 this year). It is difficult to predict the trend precisely, and its effects will vary by location, but when the flood gates open, annual teacher attrition could increase by up to 50 percent. That means we’ll need to replace around a half million teachers, perhaps more, every single year (retirees plus “normal” attrition). And this may last for several years.

If this scares you, it should. A half million teachers is roughly equivalent to one-third of the annual graduating class of every college and university in the U.S. combined. If every single Ivy League graduate in a given year decided to be a teacher, this would cover only a fraction of the annual demand. So, beginning very soon, there might be a pretty serious strain on the teacher “bench” – it’s a good bet that we’ll have a tough time replacing all these leavers/retirees without a decrease in the quality of the applicant pool, especially in low-performing schools and districts.

And this doesn’t include any possible uptick in the number of teachers fired based on performance.

Now, those who say that there are some teachers out there who just don’t belong in the classroom are undoubtedly correct. Of course they are. And we need to improve the mechanisms (and speed) by which such teachers are identified, given a chance to improve, and, failing that, dismissed.

But on the opposite end of the equation, “normal” attrition – that not from retirement – is abysmal. So, needless to say, if we really care about teacher quality, we must be equally concerned about keeping “good” teachers in the classroom. The best proven means of doing this, in my view, are increasing salaries and improving supports and working conditions (see here for a review of the retention literature).

But those who clamor for the systematic firing of a significant proportion of teachers every year have a responsibility to address the replacements issue. Some do, but most do not. In the former category is economist Eric Hanushek, who regularly proposes that the “bottom” 6-10 percent of teachers be dismissed every year, based on their students’ test scores. When he estimates how this would affect aggregate performance, he assumes that replacements will be of “average” quality (once again defined in terms of test scores).

First of all, many of the “bottom” 6-10 percent leave teaching on their own every year, especially in their first year, simply because they realize they aren’t good at it (teaching has a way of making that abundantly clear). That’s one of the reasons why attrition among newer teachers is so high. I would also point out that a fair number of the “bottom” teachers fired under this proposal would be wrongly classified as such due to the imprecision of value-added models.

But, that said, I’m curious (and this is a real question): What makes Hanushek (and those making similar proposals) confident that the supply of quality applicants will, given the pending retirement wave and already-high levels of teacher attrition, be sufficient to justify the mistake-ridden and expensive dismissal of tens of thousands of additional teachers every year, relative to a focus on retention and improvement?

Put differently, do they really think the bench is that deep?