Title 2.0: Revamping The Federal Role In Education Human CapitalDownload
American public education has done a poor job of taking care of its most important resource its people. Despite an increasing demand on public schools to educate all students and changes in the labor market that mean schools must compete more vigorously for good teachers, public school systems continue to approach the teacher workforce as they did a generation ago. Teachers enjoy little opportunity for professional growth or advancement without leaving the classroom, creating a disincentive for those who want to take on additional skills and responsibilities. And there is little sensitivity to teacher talent or effectiveness: From recruitment and training to compensation, low-performers and high-fliers are treated much the same, and poor and minority students are less likely to get the most effective teachers. While American society and what's expected of public schools has changed a great deal, our approaches to human capital in education have not.
The federal government's role in promoting quality teachers and principals has not kept pace with change either. It once supported leading-edge efforts, such as the initiative to train math and science teachers at the height of the Cold War when the nation needed scientists and engineers, but systemic support for that training was weak. Over time, the federal government has increased its monetary investment but has been less effective at changing educational practice or supporting innovative reforms.
Today, largely through Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the federal government spends approximately $3 billion directly on efforts to promote teacher and principal quality. Yet, tangible results from these efforts are scant, and there is little evidence that these funds are driving the sort of changes needed to help schools recruit, train, place, induct, and compensate quality teachers or changes that are aligned with broader human capital reform efforts in education.
Citation: Rotherham, Andrew J., Title 2.0: Revamping The Federal Role In Education Human Capital (Education Sector, November 2008)