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Both sides embrace reform

Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Staff
March 30, 2012
Couer d'Alene Press

Who is calling for massive changes in public education that include:

* Reforming teacher compensation linking earnings to performance

* Reforming tenure

* Building teacher evaluation systems based on multiple measures

Answer (multiple choice):

a. Tom Luna, Republican Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction

b. Arne Duncan, U.S. Education Secretary

c. Barack Obama, U.S. President

d. All of the above

The answer, of course, is d. All of the above. Yes, the Apocalypse is upon us: Democrats and Republicans agree on something.

OK, maybe they don't completely. These steps in reforming public education are part of President Obama's American Jobs Act bill, which Republican lawmakers have vowed will never see the light of day. Obama's plan calls for $5 billion in the form of a grant competition among states, which perhaps is part of the reason the GOP sees it as a non-starter.

But this much is clear: Legislators and other leaders are ready for education reform, whether or not educators are. We hope a confluence of the Democrat and Republican plans return American education to its rightful place at the front of the world's classroom.

According to a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor, Duncan, the education secretary, said this:

"Our goal is to support teachers in rebuilding their profession. Our larger goal is to make teaching not only America's most important profession, [but also] America's most respected profession."

One of the key targets is teacher training. Duncan wants colleges and universities to be more selective in who's accepted into teaching programs, and then ensuring they're more effective.

"Many of our schools of education are mediocre at best," Duncan told CSM. "Many teachers are poorly trained and isolated in their classrooms."

Ultimately, terrific teachers would become the norm and they'd be compensated fairly compared to other professions. Our country will make tremendous progress now and with future generations if we can make this vision of Duncan's a reality:

"We need to change society's views of teaching, from the factory model of yesterday to the professional model of tomorrow, where teachers are revered as thinkers, leaders and nation-builders."

Originally posted at

The editorial posted here is provided by permission of its original publisher and does not necessarily reflect the views of Idaho Public Television.

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