The Teacher Quality Question

As this NYT column points out today, the real difference between the U.S. education system and successful European systems is teacher quality. In short, they attract the best and we don’t. This may be the biggest innovation we’ve seen from charter schools, which have managed to attract the best and brightest, most of them funneled through Teach for America. The big criticism, of course, if many don’t stay in the classroom long — usually about three years. A fair number of those remain connected to education, but still, it’s a fair question to raise: Does that matter? The NYT did a nice job summing up the dilemma.┬áTo be honest, I’m not sure where the truth lies, but it’s fair to ask: Does it really matter if charter school teachers stay only three years? Clearly, it would matter a lot if there were a shortage of fresh talented teachers willing to take their place. But TFA has become the equivalent of the national service many of us have always yearned for. So far, the tap remains open.