Kent Grusendorf

Author of Saving Public Education and Who Rules the Texas House

white painted concrete building near body of water during daytime

“We’re living in the 21st century while insisting on an education architecture built for the 1800s… It’s time to construct an entirely new system.”

—Texas Governor Gregg Abbott,
2017 State of the State Address

 

Contents


Preface
Introduction

Chapter 1   The Teacher

Chapter 2   Administrative Control—
The Teacher is Not in Charge Today

Chapter 3   A System at Risk

Chapter 4   Merit Pay—A Fool’s Errand

Chapter 5   Teacher Pay

Chapter 6   Teachers as True Professionals: The Professional Teacher Act, A New/Old Concept

Chapter 7   Money Matters: How Money Flows is Critical

Chapter 8   Education Reform

Chapter 9   The Achievement Gap Can Be Closed

Chapter 10   Equity, Adequacy, & Litigation

Chapter 11   Original Intent of the Texas Constitution

Chapter 12   Are We Funding Our Own Demise Through Higher Education?

Preface

Saving Public Education: Setting Teachers Free to Teach

stacked blue notebooks

This book explores a potentially new professional opportunity for teachers. Most teachers are in the profession because they love to teach. However, far too many leave the profession due to lack of respect, excessive external pressures, and general frustration. Many teachers stay in the profession, but yearn for greater freedom to just do what the love: Teach. Much of that frustration comes from mandates, and a lack of professional freedom.

Well intentioned education reform advocates have attempted to reform the American education system for more than half a century. Most of these reform efforts have been designed in a way that imposes top-down mandates on our schools and teachers.

However, half a century later, despite much hard work by educators, the minority achievement gap remains at unacceptable levels. According to the Brookings Institute, no progress has been made in literacy since NAEP testing began in 1971; poor students perform three or four years behind grade level; and far too many teachers are frustrated with a system that fails to treat them as true professionals.

A better solution would have been to free teachers to teach.

Virtually all meaningful reform efforts over the past few decades have either failed to produce the desired results, or have been undone over time due to political pressure. It is time to acknowledge one simple fact: Top-down reform efforts, and mandates on teachers, have not worked and will not work, as intended.

assorted-color pencil

Over the past three decades, teacher pay, after adjusting for inflation, has decreased. This has occurred despite the fact that spending, also adjusted for inflation, has increased dramatically. Today, Americans spend about $4 billion per school day on public education. Annually, we spend about $350,000 per classroom of 25; however, we only pay teachers about $60,000.

Over the past seven decades administrative staff has increased by over 750%. That is indicative of a system which simply has its priorities wrong.

America’s political leaders need to understand that there is a subtle yet distinct difference between what is best for institutions and what is best for student success. Unfortunately, in America today, school funding is based primarily on institutional needs rather than student and teacher needs. Formulas are designed to fund the system rather than fund education within the system.

Today, teachers are paid less than their true market value, in part due to monopsony power, and often lack necessary classroom supplies. Teachers are the backbone of the system, yet many are frustrated, and they should be, by lack of professional recognition, and lack of adequate financial support for their classrooms.

In public education’s early years teachers were actually in charge of the school; they answered directly to parents and taxpayers. Most importantly, they had the ability to do what they thought best for their students. Today, teachers answer to multiple layers of school administrators, and to local, state, and federal politicians, all of whom impose top-down dictates upon these teachers and their schools.

It is time to acknowledge that top-down control has not worked well for millions of American students. The answer will not come from above. The answer is in the classrooms of America today. The solution is to set teachers free to teach.

three women holding signges

Teachers are the individuals who actually deliver education services. The system should be organized accordingly. If organized correctly, educators would be set free from politics and be allowed to focus totally on educating children. To accomplish that objective, teachers must be treated as real professionals, not just given lip service that they “are” professionals.

Saving Public Education makes the case with simple data that the best way to reward teachers is to allow them to practice their trade as true professionals. Teachers would be empowered by allowing a new optional component to the education systems current structure.

This new option would be the professional teacher concept. The Professional Teacher Act would provide a new option for teachers –the freedom to practice as true professionals- that would be a win-win for the entire profession.

Once the money held in trust for students is allowed to follow the child and teacher, there is no limit to the creative initiatives teachers could implement to achieve superior results for their students, for the education system, and for society.

The professional teacher concept would be a new option only available to certain public school teachers. It would allow a public school teacher who has been rated as proficient, or better, for three years to enter into “private practice,” much like a doctor, or lawyer, who is in private practice. Students would not be “assigned” to any teacher in private practice. If students choose a teacher in private practice, the state money would flow directly to the teacher.

This professional teacher concept is a win-win for the entire education profession, for children, and for society. Educators would be empowered to specialize and innovate to meet the individual needs of their individual students. Teacher pay would be enhanced as well, both for those who participate in the program and for those who remain in the current system. This is because the monopsony power, held by school districts, represses teacher pay to a level below market value. Setting teachers free to practice their trade would change that dynamic for the entire profession.

Bottom line: The purpose of such a new professional opportunity would be to give education professionals the opportunity to function independently, with property rights similar to those afforded other professionals and the rewards inherent in those rights. Further, to allow highly qualified education professionals the opportunity to innovate and create educational programs suited for the specific needs of their student clientele.

Keep Reading

Saving Public Education is available now in paperback and ebook. Loaded with pictures, enticing aphorisms, and insightful charts, the 180-page book is an inviting read for educators and parents alike. Click the button below to order Kent Grusendorf’s widely acclaimed book today.

“No one is more qualified to identify the current deficiencies of public education and recommend strategies to address them than Kent Grusendorf. His book … deserves wide dissemination among education opinion leaders.

—Jim Windham, founder of Texas Institute for Education Reform

Keep Reading

Saving Public Education is available now in paperback and ebook. Loaded with pictures, enticing aphorisms, and insightful charts, the 180-page book is an inviting read for educators and parents alike. Click the button below to order Kent Grusendorf’s widely acclaimed book today.

“No one is more qualified to identify the current deficiencies of public education and recommend strategies to address them than Kent Grusendorf. His book … deserves wide dissemination among education opinion leaders.

—Jim Windham, founder of Texas Institute for Education Reform