Pardon the Interruption: What Really Prevents Us from Treating Teachers Like Professional Athletes?

Originally posted on Jay P. Greene's Blog:

(Guest post by James V. Shuls)

If you’ve been in the education business or around a teacher for any significant amount of time, you have undoubtedly heard someone say something like, “Imagine if teachers were treated like professional athletes.” Well thanks to comedians Key and Peele, we no longer have to imagine. In a new segment, “Teaching Center,” the two spoof the popular ESPN show Sports Center to bring us the “top stories from the exiting world of teaching.”

The video has been a hit with teachers and is receiving a significant amount of attention on social media. Within 24 hours of being posted, it had more than a million views.  The response of most is, “Oh yeah, what if instead of paying LeBron James hundreds of millions of dollars, we did that with Mrs. Smith, the rock-star high school chemistry teacher?!?” Putting aside the economics of the…

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Was Missouri’s Interdistrict Transfer Program Poorly Designed?

Originally posted on Jay P. Greene's Blog:

(Guest Post by James Shuls)

In the early 1970s the Ford Motor Company designed the Pinto. In addition to being extremely ugly, the Pinto was extremely dangerous. A rear-end collision could cause the gas tank to rupture and ignite. For obvious reasons, the Pinto is regarded as one of the worst cars ever.

At the very least, it was poorly designed.

Many look at Missouri’s interdistrict transfer program, which has allowed more than 2,000 students from the Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts to transfer to higher performing suburban districts, as if it were a Pinto. It has forced the two unaccredited districts to hemorrhage and rest on the verge of bankruptcy.

Is it ugly? Yes. Is it poorly designed? It depends.

In 2013, the year before students transferred, fewer than 20 percent of students in the two unaccredited school districts were proficient in reading or math. Dropout rates…

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Why do Missouri Lawmakers Continue to Under Fund K-12 Schools?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an op-ed I penned about Missouri’s K-12 funding formula. Here’s the intro:

How much does it cost to educate a student? Ask a dozen people to put a dollar figure on it and you will get a dozen different answers. Yet, when Missouri lawmakers redesigned our K-12 funding system in 2005, they had to come up with an answer. They had to use this figure to determine how much money each district would get from the state. On top of this arbitrary decision, previous lawmakers had to promise the farm in order to get buy-in from local school leaders. Current lawmakers are now “underfunding” our K-12 education system because they inherited a system built around an arbitrary target that is continually increasing.

If you want to find out more about how Missouri’s schools are funded, read the entire piece.