You could also argue that fixing the evaluations, and getting rid of bum teachers, is the most important step in fixing failing schools.
Not effectively, you couldn't. Teachers aren't the problem. Teacher's unions aren't the problem. There are 100000 studies of non unionized charter schools free to fire teachers at will, they perform exactly the same as public schools in similar demographic areas.
That's debatable, but also irrelevant to the issue at hand. The students in that district do worse than those in other districts with similar demographics yet their teachers are paid significantly more. And they want a raise. So much so that they're going on strike to get it (yes, and other things). Surely you can see how this might just raise a few eyebrows?
Parents education matters. Family socio economic status matters. Culture in the district matters. There's no "most important" step, and honestly it's arguable there is no "fixing" failing schools.
Also debatable. Well, I suppose the "it's arguable" part isn't, but the problem is that the left (which in case you missed it has pretty much dominated the local politics in Chicago for decades) refuses to engage in said argument. So while we could have an argument about methods to attempt to fix failing schools, we can't because your own political party refuses to even consider the possibility that there might just be a better way to do this.
I'll also point out that the same sorts of policies (yes, those evil "get people off welfare" policies) of the right might just also help alleviate some of the issues that make it so hard to have successful schools in poorer districts. Clearly the policies of the left have failed in this regard, so why not try some of the ideas that conservatives have? I just find is amusing that liberals insist that conservatives either don't have ideas, or that their ideas don't work, meanwhile basically throwing their hands up and claiming that it's impossible to fix problems using their own methods. Um... Why not give the right a try at bat here? Just a thought.
Our town has very good public schools, regularly rated in the top 25 districts of the state, some years in the top 10. That's for Massachusetts, of course. I'd assume that easily would make them the top rated district in some sh*tty backwater flyover state like Illinois. The town next to us has the worst schools in the state. The idea that it's the teachers from each district making the difference is ludicrous.
All the difference? No. Part of it? Absolutely. The more relevant point is that your argument basically avoids the possibility that there might be *any* bad teachers anywhere. And IMO, if you deliberately avoid any methods to find them, then you'll get more of them over time. And guess what? They're going to tend to congregate in the poorer districts, since that's where their bad performance is less likely to be noticed. You're arguing for a feedback system that guarantees that education in poor districts will get worse over time.
Their kids walk past crack dealers on the way to school and have parents that dropped out in 9th grade. Our kids have parents with PhDs and have business cards with their parents contact information for play-dates (really, Hannah brought some home on her first day of 2nd grade). If the districts swapped teachers, not much would change. Well, our kids would learn more Spanish, probably.
If they swapped teachers, it's almost certain that your district would immediately identify the 10-15% or so who suck and would shuffle them off somewhere else very quickly. I think you are incredibly naive if you don't think that the quality of teachers is better in a well to do district versus a poor one. Edited, Sep 11th 2012 2:01pm by gbaji