With education reform I tend to be a fan of what Chester Finn, the editor of Education Next, calls “blowing up the system”. That said, I think Gail Collins criticism of the reforms that Florida tried to pass are worth considering:

Can I digress, people, and say that while it’s important to make teachers accountable, telling them their jobs could hinge on their students’ grades on one test is a terrible idea? The women and men who go into teaching tend, as a group, to be both extremely dedicated and extremely risk-averse. The stability of their profession is a very important part of its draw. You do not want to make this an anything-can-happen occupation, unless you are prepared to compensate them like hedge fund traders.

It may be that we do want to pay teachers like hedge fund traders, but there are 3.5 million teachers in the country right now, and whatever reforms we put into place must consider not only the stock of teachers you want, but the stock you currently have. Given that the job selects for risk aversion, injecting too much employment risk into the job, especially too fast, is probably going to do more harm than good.

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