Despite the centrality of people to education, current strategies for teacher recruitment, training, evaluation, and compensation are largely divorced from the goals of effectiveness and equity and are misaligned with what we know works (and does not work). While politicians repeatedly profess their respect for teachers, our public policies fundamentally disrespect them and the work they do. No enterprise, public or private, can thrive over time without paying close attention to how it recruits, trains, and retains its very best people. Considering that the majority of the $500 billion spent annually on American public education goes directly to supporting personnel, it is unacceptable that we have a system that does not manage human capital more effectively.
The nation needs a fundamental redesign of how we approach education’s most important asset—its people. Policymakers and educators must develop a broad array of new initiatives to support four essential goals: higher aggregate quality in the teaching-candidate pool, more opportunities for educator-driven innovation and professional growth, better measurement of teacher effectiveness, and new forms of compensation and promotion based on skills and performance. Like other trends in education, human-capital strategies must move from being process- and compliance-oriented with little attention to performance, to being flexible, customized, and directly tied to results.