The Price Your Child Pays with a Bad Teacher


Malcom Gladwell wrote an article for The New Yorker titled “Most Likely to Succeed” in December of 2008, and I have been mulling over it since. If you haven’t read it, you should because Gladwell is a genius and the article brings up some interesting thoughts on teachers. According to Gladwell, an economist at Stanford named Hanushek “estimates that the students of a very bad teacher will learn, on average, half a year’s worth of material in one school year. The students in the class of a very good teacher will learn a year and a half’s worth of material. That difference amounts to a year’s worth of learning in a single year.”  But here’s the real kicker; Hanushek further asserts that “your child is actually better off in a ‘bad’ school with an excellent teacher than in an excellent school with a bad teacher.” Wow – the teacher your child has really matters. The article continues with the assertion that good teachers are more beneficial than smaller class sizes. All this time we spend trying to reduce class size which costs more money would be better spent recruiting and hiring good teachers, helping good teachers be better through meaningful professional development, and firing bad teachers who do more harm than good.

Good teachers are hard to come by these days because the good ones are burned out. So much of our time is spent on things other than teaching. This proves to be exhausting for good teachers because the good teachers do what’s expected and then spend extra time doing the things that really matter in the classroom – preparing quality lessons, grading written work with relevant comments, and connecting with other educators to glean different ideas and methods. Meanwhile the bad teachers continue doing nothing or very little and keep their job thanks to tenure.

If your child has a good teacher, encourage the teacher throughout the year. Brag to administrators about the teacher. We have to fight to keep our good teachers in the system.

Who is one teacher you can encourage this week?

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