Show Me The Money!

Jon Chait’s smart take on Paul Tough’s education article from last week observes that the schools that have been most successful with poor inner-city kids “attract a small cadre of extremely bright and dedicated teachers, often willing to work 16-hour days.” This is good for those schools and the kids who attend them, “but you can’t find enough [people like that] to staff every school in the nation, or even just the poorest ones.” In the past, “teaching was able to attract a lot of highly skilled women because they were excluded from most professions on the basis of their gender.” These days, that gender segregation externality no longer operates on the teaching labor market, so “if you want highly skilled teachers who work investment banker hours, we have to pay them like — well, if not quite like investment bankers, then a lot more generously than we pay them now.”

In short, on a small scale you can find eccentric individuals willing to engage in Stakhanovite efforts to make things work. But such endeavors are not a systematic solution to anything. If you want to replicate these results on a wide scale, it would take, among other things, a very large sum of money.