I'm wondering how many people think that President Barack Obama is going to send people to Little Rock to study the miracle that is the eStem schools merit pay system, as Superintendent Roy Brooks was reported as saying on the front page of the AD-G today.
Brooks is waiting for Barack's call over what Brooks calls his charter schools' "simplistic" plan. He meant simple. But simplistic is more like it. For the country to adopt an eStem model it would require that
1. all school children have parents who are deeply interested in their education, which would describe eStem's children;
2. all parents could afford to get their children to school without benefit of public transportation, which would describe eStem parents;
3. all schools have a Sugar Daddy like the Waltons to pay teacher bonuses; and that
4. we all swallow the idea that good testing is good teaching.
5. that there's no end to the number of duplcative administrative structures -- about a half-million worth of salaries at e-Stem for its top three desk jockeys -- taxpayers can support.
6. We swallow that guys who invented the plan will evaluate it fairly.
7. We expect any independent evaluators will be allowed to take a look and determine whether the kids who progressed largely would have progressed anyway.
The eStem schools, with their private-school feel and pretentious advertising in faux Latin and Greek, drew in students who were already achieving well in public school. If they didn't test well in the rarified atmosphere of the eStem schools, it would be a mystery. Would that all schools could focus on curriculum without the bother of a student body troubled by poverty and the social ills that accompany poverty.
Innovation is great. What Obama might really be interested in is a model school system that acknowledges that many children come to school unprepared to learn, from a family not bent toward education, that their teachers aren't blamed for their struggles and their ability to learn is nurtured. Smaller class sizes. Smarter teacher education.