Human capital or elitism in charter schools - the debate continues

I'm delighted to report that our debate was so powerful and compelling that the AEI staff, after reading our comments, arranged an event to dive deeper into these very matters!

(Just kidding, though we shouldn't underestimate the far-reaching powers of this blog!)

Two responses to Mike. First, I stand by my contention that Wilson could have challenged these charters on their recruiting practices. Yes, Mike is right that Wilson was reporting on what they do. I don't fault Wilson at all for giving us the lay of the land????????as a matter of fact, his findings are very interesting and important. But he could've followed that by saying, ???????this is a suboptimal strategy for the following reasons,??????? instead of assuming that their practices are correct and then lamenting where that leaves us.

Second, I acknowledge Mike's second point. Based on the numbers, even if my strategy were employed and proved to be successful, we would still have too few teachers to staff all urban schools. But I didn't mean to suggest that my strategy was the full solution. I was suggesting that the universe of potentially great ???????no excuses??????? teachers extends beyond ivy-covered walls and that the cohort of top graduates of non-elite colleges is one place to look. But there are many other fertile fields, too, I suspect.

The glory of Teach for America (TFA) is that it showed that the universe of talented young people interested in teaching in underserved communities is much, much, much bigger than anyone would've ever guessed 20 years ago. One of the many glories of chartering is that it showed that the number of highly talented people interested in starting schools for underserved students is much, much, much bigger than anyone expected.

What did TFA and chartering do differently? They recast the industry. TFA framed teaching in low-income areas as an exciting, rewarding, nation-serving way to begin your career. And people came running. Chartering showed that education could be a place for ambitious, entrepreneurial, community-minded citizens. And people came running.

The point is we need to stop assuming that there isn't enough talent out there. There are other quarries to mine and wells to dig. We need to find the pockets of talent????????wherever they are????????and show them why working in this industry will scratch their personal and professional itches.

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