Contributor to the New York Times, Bruce Fuller, also a professor at Cal-Berkley suggests some homework for Obama. And it may just be the type of homework where you actually learn something, instead of doing it just to get it done. Why? Fuller takes Obama's pork barrel scrapple and applies it to our education system and then makes the case for why a cohesive plan to reinvest in public education can be the true economic stimulus package. Most encouraging, he references a New Jersey analysis that "shows how 9,000 new jobs are created for every $1 billion invested in school repair and construction.". He also finds a way to focus the conversation on how to retain and attract young talented teaching professionals.
Equally urgent, Washington should aid states in attracting smart and diverse young graduates to go into teaching. To retain them, educational institutions must become professional and supportive workplaces, not simply test-prep centers. This won’t be accomplished through attractive gimmicks, like more money for charters schools which, on balance, have yet to outperform regular public schools.
What is the lesson? Sometimes solutions do not need to be found outside of existing institutions. The new type of social entrepreneurship can be created to fix the problems of some our greatest public services that have seen steady decline in the last fifty years, but are not worthy of completely destroying. One way the public sector can retain its young talent is by raising the expectations for what they can achieve and change in the current structure. Allow teachers to create their own lesson plan, devise new strategies for reaching their students, and most important, do not pressure them to teach only to "standardized" tests. Whose standard is it anyway? We need students and teachers who can think independently and ask the right questions. In this country, we reward entrepreneurship (which means someone is thinking creatively to find a niche in the market), but then tell young professionals to wait their time and go with the flow until they are "experienced" enough to give their opinion. This was the same argument used against Obama to discourage him from running, but he has won and it is now time for the rest of country to get up to speed and continue to see how we can raise the expectations and allow everyone to get their homework done. Not just to do it, but to learn something.