How much is a good teacher worth? A joint Harvard Columbia study by economists calculates that a good 4th grade teacher creates $700,000 in added economic value each year.

We can’t test our way to great schools because high stakes testing assumes teachers and students can do better, and just choose not to. We know more than ever what skills make great teachers. We also know that every strong education system has strong teacher training.

California Can Have World Class Teacher and Principal Training
You can’t fire your way to becoming a good school because there just isn’t a surplus supply of good teachers. You can train your way to becoming a great school. Chris Chiang will call for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) to demand more from university teacher and principal training programs. Chris will call for state penalties on any education program that does not deliver effective teacher or principal training.

Measuring Teacher Programs and Identifying Future School Leaders
We can measure the effectiveness of teacher training programs by asking principals to submit to the state teacher evaluations based on the well regarded California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP). This data will also be used to identify potential school leaders to become future teacher trainers and principals. A well trained principal is far more accurate in measuring teacher performance than any state tests.

We Start with Principal Training
Great schools start with hiring great principals. It is the most cost effective and most powerful, yet most neglected aspect of school reform. Did you know you can become a principal in California by just taking a test? If your child has a bad teacher, the direct problem is not the union, but a principal’s lack of urgency and follow through. The goal of the union is to protect due process, not bad teachers. If a principal doesn’t know if his/her teachers are doing their jobs or isn’t willing to follow the right procedures to remove a bad teacher, he/she has no business being principal. Effective training programs can create great teachers and principals. Great principals can continue to grow and keep great teachers.

There are many education reforms that are costly or divisive. The single common factor between all great schools is a focus on teacher and principal training. We for the first time know which teachable skills and methods make an effective educator. This the state can do now without impacting the budget or engaging in political battles. Teacher and principal certification is a state responsibility. Lets shift Sacramento’s focus away from micromanaging local school districts, and to ensuring state credentialed principals and teachers are ready day one.

Local companies know that if you want to be the best, you have to hire the best. Photo: Voninski

In the Long Term: A Bold Plant to Attract the Nation’s Best Teachers to California
We must first focus on fixing teacher and principal training programs. That will lift California from the bottom of national education rankings. For California to have a world leading education system, a bolder and more long-term plan is needed after we improve our state’s education training programs. When someone enters the military or police force, the government funds their training and pays them as they are getting trained.

Chris Chiang’s plan is to offer the same for new California teachers. Focusing our resources on a one time investment in new teachers will draw the nation’s best new teachers overnight. Drawing on teacher training methodology championed by Teach for America and the charter movement as well as those from other countries, these elite recruits will be part of a renaissance in university and school site based teacher education.

Chris’s plan provides free tuition and a $1,000 a month stipend to 10,000 new teachers each year as they complete a two year teacher training program. The plan will recruit from the entire nation and take the 10,000 very best applicants. It will require teachers to teach five years in California after completing the program. If they leave the state, quit, or are dismissed, they will owe $5,730 for each of the remaining years of their five year obligation. Teachers not wishing to be time bound can select to pay for their own training as they do right now.

Imagine the best and brightest given the necessary two years to master their craft. 10,000 each year to become catalysts for broader reform. All it takes is courage for California to have the top teachers, thereby the top schools, thereby the top workers, and finally the top economy.

Like any performance based organization, if we want to keep the best, we need to offer growth opportunities.

This plan calls for a $28,650 one-time investment in every new teacher. Consider that it costs $45,000 to train a new US Marine.  California currently trains 15,000 teachers each year and 14,000 teachers quit each year. Teacher turnover costs California $455,732,592 (not including retirees).

We need to hire better.
We need to train better.
We need to promote better.

We Need More Leadership Options for Great Teachers
The state should actively identify and recruit master teachers to pursue state principal credentialing. We should also create a second career option modeled after Singapore for master teacher, who do not want to become a principal, to become master teacher trainers.

“I am a great teacher when I’m learning.”
We must demand all teachers and principals continue training throughout their career to retain their credential. For all the money the state spends on testing, that money is better spent on providing effective training.  No teacher or principal should stop learning or sharing with their profession, yet few get real chances to do this regularly. Lawyers and doctors must continue to get training; teachers and principals should as well.

The weeks students spend testing, not learning, and teachers spend administering state exams could instead be time for teachers to develop their techniques. That’s real reform.

3 Schools that Show the Way

High Tech High, San Diego
Where Chris Chiang completed his mid-career teacher training.

Finnish National Agency for Education

Singapore Ministry of Education

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