The down-and-dirty truth about better schools.

Just the other day our local paper featured a report credited to Christopher Connell/The Hechinger Report announcing that “Teacher bonuses don’t help test scores, report says.”  In a “scientifically rigorous test”, middle school math teachers were offered salary bonuses contingent on improved test performance by their pupils.  In short…it didn’t matter much.

This is news?   I was a middle school math teacher myself back in the days I recount in my book I Promised You Daisies , and along with thousands of other teachers I could have told you that years ago.  In my opinion, based on my own experiences and those that others have shared with me, there is no consistent, exclusive correlation between the money available to be spent on the children we send to school and the classrooms we provide for them there, and real educational accomplishment.

Many children who find themselves in well funded schools do well…but…so do plenty more who show up in a bare classroom bearing no more than worn books and a desire to learn.  Where did they get thatMost simply stated, they got it in homes where the adults responsible for their well-being continue to demonstrate by words and actions that education is important.

This is as close, I submit, to a sine qua non …nothing without this…as we are likely to discover.  Unless and until we can find ways to ensure that all  of our children show up at school with the sincere belief that education is important and that they are under an obligation to accept some of the responsibility for their own success or failure, more than a few are going to fall right through the welcoming arms of dedicated teachers and the security of generously endowed schools.

What can we do about it?   There is no single answer to that question, nor any easy one. We guard the freedom to make one’s own choices in life as one of the treasured institutions that define our society. What happens when we see others around us apparently failing to understand or accept this premise? 

I submit that the best place to look for answers is in the particular, private choices that each of us makes as an individual every day.  For a moment, forget about political correctness and officially mandated policies and carefully structured programs of reform . What are you going to do about it?

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