I was expecting a bit more from Eduwonk's $5 billion challenge. The winner, just announced, would use the money to
Create a new role for the classroom called an "Associate Teacher" that works with a teacher for 2 years before becoming a full-fledged teacher. Every classroom team would include a teacher, an associate teacher and a teacher assistant. It would cost a lot of money to run, but would help meet the needs of all children.
This might improve teaching quality a bit, but it would leave a lot to fix in the teaching profession, let alone American education writ large, which was the subject of the challenge.
For instance, this plan would do nothing to raise the quality of teaching candidates, who typically have lower SAT and ACT scores and come from less-competitive universities than their peers in other professions. Furthermore, even when districts ramp up recruiting efforts, bureaucratic and union barriers often deter the most qualified candidates from taking the jobs anyway. Why use the $5 billion for a bit of professional development (of questionable utility) when you could try to attract better candidates from the get-go?
Nor does the "associate teacher" plan do anything to fix the dysfunctional school culture that spurs so many qualified teachers to switch to careers that are more professionally rewarding and less of a threat to one's sanity. The $5-billion teacher will still waste valuable time and energy battling with incompetent administrators. She'll still bump up against inane union and district rules that bar her from using common sense in her classroom. And all this will still burn her out, leading her either to quit or to give in and let the broken system carry her languidly along until retirement, and its fat pension, brings...