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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Free Agency

Have you ever been a die hard fan of a perpetually losing sports franchise? Have you felt the pain of losing your most talented players to teams with more money and a better shot at a championship? Well that same kind of gut-wrenching loss being felt in city schools nationwide.

Recent initiatives to entice competent math and science teachers has led to a new kind of "school choice" scenario. Teachers in poorer urban districts, tired of being underpaid and under-appreciated, are being gently wooed by suburban schools with more money left under their salary caps. This is exactly the kind of market capitalism that those voucher programs are always failing to provide for students. Imagine if we pushed the sports metaphor further. What if we had some kind of draft lottery, whereby the poorest performing schools can secure the most promising up and comers for the first few years of their careers, before they even have an option at free agency? Then schools would be forced to better support their first and second year teachers. Or what if administrators could broker trades, sending two or three mediocre educators to outlying districts for a really choice pick from another school? That would keep teachers on their toes.

I don't know about everybody else, but I'm ready to try just about an change to the system that will bring in and retain more passionate, well-rounded, and knowledgeable teachers. Although I doubt that we'll be seeing teacher trading cards or bobble-heads any time soon.

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