On Friday, I'm leaving Fordham to join the See Forever Foundation in D.C., which operates the Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools and an Academy at New Beginnings, D.C.'s secure facility for committed youth. (The Academy was recently profiled on Rock Center.)
Before I go, I'd like to share a few of my takeaways from a year and a half of reporting and opining on the nation's school finance challenges.
1. Policy only takes schools so far
Around the country, reformers have won modest breakthroughs on education policy, especially at the state and local level. Charter schools' access to facilities has improved somewhat, administrators have been given greater spending flexibility, mayors have won control of urban systems and installed reform-minded leadership.
Policy cannot mandate high-quality outcomes.
Policy cannot mandate high-quality outcomes, however. Even with new flexibilities and opportunities, too many schools continue to do the same old, same old. Clearly K-12 education as an industry needs to develop greater leadership capacity in order to use newly-won flexibility to full effect.
Reformers are getting ahead of the curve, however. The emergence of the PIE Network, CEE-Trust, CRPE's portfolio districts, and other efforts illustrate a growing, healthy emphasis on implementation.
2. Teacher pay and benefits are badly broken
The United States is one of the biggest spenders on education in the OECD, yet starting teacher salaries are low. That reflects our primary strategy of the last two decades: When problems crop up, we throw more and more...