Andrew Rotherham is a thought leader in education reform, and he’s allowed his Eduwonk blog to be a platform for debate regarding the replacement of the most ineffective teachers.

Diane Ravitch and Eric Hanushek (Stanford University) have agreed to debate the issue, and today was Eric’s first turn:

“Almost everybody concerned with educational policy agrees on two things: the U.S. has a very serious achievement problem and teachers are the most important element in our school for addressing this problem. Beyond these, agreement breaks down.”

He continues:

“In the face of this I want to offer one simple thought: The future of our schools depends heavily on dealing with the small number of teachers who simply should not be in the classroom. Specifically, by replacing the bottom 5-10 percent of teachers with the average teacher found in today’s classrooms, research indicates that the achievement of U.S. students would rise from below the developed country average to near the top if not at the top. The gains to students and to the U.S. economy from that improvement are truly enormous – making it worth considering some alternation in current policies that ignore the problem.”

Read over the entire post for more of his critical thoughts. Check back for Diane’s response, followed by more from both participants throughout this week.

A panel from our Cleveland Forum on finding and evaluating teacher talent contains some great effective practices that can actively help schools looking for more quality educators. Leigh McGuigan (Partner at The New Teacher Project) believes that principals’ “most common mistake is to hold out to see if [teachers] will change when [they] should just replace them.” Mike Piscal (Former CEO of STC School View Park Prep in LA, current Head of School at the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy) requires candidates to complete two writing samples on site. Find out his questions and how he evaluated them here.

This is an important conversation for policy makers eager to improve the lives of our students. While debates can help change education policies for future use, in the here and now we’ve found an excellent way for schools to improve is through the work of their leaders and teachers learning from other successful schools and implementing their effective practices. Stay tuned for updates from our recent Study Tours and Roundtables across the country!