Teachers Are The X-Factor

Nationally, states spend an average of $10,560 per student.* In my state, Michigan, we spend an average of $11,197 per student.

One evening, a long time ago, a neighbor of mine was hosting a “coffee with the candidate” evening. A local hopeful was running for some office and wanted to get the pulse of the community. Nice idea but sometimes fraught with peril.

The subject soon turned to education. The candidate mentioned that the schools were horribly in debt and we were all going to have to consider raising our taxes to compensate. Tough choices. Bite the bullet. It’s for the kids!

I asked how much was being spent on each child who attended public school. The answer came from the candidate, “More than $11,000 per student.” This made me smile.

“I have the answer to all of our problems,” I said. “Bulldoze the schools tomorrow. Send every kid over to the parochial school in town. Their tuition is only $7,500 a year and they churn out over-achiever after over-achiever. You can bank the rest of the $11,000 to pay down the debt we’re in. Problem solved.”

The candidate, and more than a few of my neighbors, looked at me with a combination of patronizing humor and disdain.

“If only it were that simple,” the candidate said, with a shake of his head.

Mmm.

Below is a video of the National Teacher of the Year. In 2001. Ten years ago, his tactics were considered revolutionary and highly effective. He opened his own academy in Atlanta and has achieved enormous success. It was hoped that his methods would be emulated throughout the nation and new models of teaching and educating young people would begin to take root.

“If only it were that simple…”

* Executive Summary of the National Education Association, NEA