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Opinion
Education Opinion

Big, bold leadership (and more hours in the day)

By Jessica Shyu — April 22, 2009 1 min read
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Thank you, Mr. Duncan, for saying clearly in your Time interview what needed to be said:
1) Lengthen time in school: You point out that many high performing schools have longer school days and Saturday classes, and many students do not have a home environment conducive to afterschool productivity. You highlight that our economic competitors India and China are going to school 25% to 30% more than we are.
2) Charter schools: You espouse choice, rigorous competition for entry, and greater accountability. Importantly, you stress that charter schools should be spared the morass of education bureaucracy. From the United Nations to the local school district, bureaucracy can stymie the legions with nothing but the best intentions.
3) No Child Left Behind: 50 different states, 50 different standards. Why not set a common bar, and give every district the freedom to achieve it how they deem best? Delightful.
4) Tenure: You dodged this a bit. Remind me again why primary and secondary school teachers have tenure? We need to have a national discussion on how tenure improves student achievement. Why should high-performing excellent teachers get booted just because someone lower performing has been around longer? Sure, New Hampshire’s Teacher of the Year is an extreme case, even a fluke perhaps. But let this be a lesson to us that performance and authentic student growth matters the most and should trump the number of years someone has been in the district.

Mr. Duncan, I may not agree with you on everything, but I find your interview ideas compelling. The time for innovation and movement is now. Here’s to hoping your smart interview translates into bold leadership.

Readers: ‘Thanks’ or ‘No Thanks’ to Mr. Duncan’s ideas?

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