Advertisement

A plan to aid failing schools

April 29, 2003

Under a new proposal by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, some of the most experienced and talented employees in the state would receive special training, then be deployed for up to a year to assorted "trouble spots."

No they're not police officers or members of the National Guard, but school teachers. And the governor and James Rhoades, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, want to use their talents to create a special corps of "distinguished educators" to aid troubled schools.

Whether it works will depend on whether these master teachers buy into the program, since at least at this point, there's no talk about conscripting them into the program. Rendell's proposal would give them a substantial financial incentive to do so, providing all of the salary they would get at their home district, and a special stipend equal to half their salary.

Is that too generous? No, considering that a teacher who accepts an assignment of six months to a year at a distant school district must incur addition expenses for shelter, travel and perhaps child care if there are youngsters still at home.

Advertisement

As to the differences between Rendell's proposal and Rhoades' plan, the governor's plan allocates only $1.4 million to train and assign 200 teachers. Assuming an average salary of $30,000 and a special stipend of $15,000 on top of that, the salary cost alone would be $900,000, leaving just $400,000 for training.

The second difference is that Rendell's proposal would assign the teachers to those schools with a high percentage of failing students, while Rhoades' plan would send the special help to schools that are lagging behind, but not yet in the "failing" category.

Rhoades' strategy to give schools help before they fail makes sense, but how many schools are we talking about? Although it would be nice to help every school that's not making progress it may not be affordable.

What's needed is a way to identify those schools that are lagging behind, but are unable to improve without help. In a time of limited funds, extra aid must be reserved for those schools that can't succeed without it.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|