Education reform is no longer an issue of liberals versus conservatives. All sides of the educational policy debate now accept that the key determinant of school effectiveness is teachers—that effective teachers get good achievement results for all children, while ineffective teachers hurt all students, regardless of background.
Signs of this broad consensus abound. In Washington, the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program has rewarded states for making significant policy changes such as supporting charter schools. The Los Angeles Times has published the effectiveness rankings—and names—of six thousand teachers. And nationwide, the documentary Waiting for “Superman,” which strongly criticizes the public education system, has drawn avid audiences.
Also increasingly accepted is that the interests of teachers’ unions aren’t the same as the interests of children, or even of most teachers.