This past weekend, The Daily Beast held its Innovators Summit in New Orleans, which gathered 300 leading thinkers to discuss big ideas for changing the world. One of the most interesting innovations, according to senior reporter Jacob Bernstein, came from a former lawyer named Rafiq Kalam Id-Din, who has a radical idea for stemming the flood of more than 1 million kids who drop out of American high schools every year: Make school more like a law firm, what he calls a "teaching firm."
He wants to blend the taut, professional structure of the law firm with the success that home schooling-type situations have shown for minority students to create, in essence, one-room schoolhouses where a teacher is in charge of guiding students through their entire elementary school years. The teachers in these unique charters will be wholly accountable for their charges and will make the sort of salary that might normally lure education-minded young adults into law or finance: $150,000 to $300,000 per year.
While I like the idea, it also throws a lot of the blame (too much) or credit for a child doing well into school on the teachers and ignores the responsibilities of the parents (and neighborhoods). The solution is an interesting one (my mother taught in one of Saskatchewan’s last one room schools and loved it) and I like the idea of paying excellent teachers more but it ignores the fact that clients of law firms are generally extremely motivated. Arguably if kids and their families were that motivated to be in school, you wouldn’t need this kind of educational model.