Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Adventures in Government Waste

The other day I was at a meeting about applying for grant money to improve education.

The idea behind this grant is that a professor from a STEM discipline and a professor of education will team up and run a content+methods seminar (of at least 80 hours) for in-service teachers. This is meant to serve 20 teachers at a cost of $10,000 per teacher; the grant is for up to $200,000.

Most people at the meeting were lukewarm about applying for a $200,000 grant, as they didn't think that they could do much with $10,000 per teacher. Most of the money would be eaten up in travel costs bringing the teachers to campus to be trained. The grant rules limited the amount of money that could be spent on trainer salaries.

No one brought up the uncomfortable issue that the way that most teachers get their training is that they go to college: They spend time on a college campus taking courses in contents and methods from professors much like the ones who will be teaching these two-week seminars for $10,000 per teacher.

Personally, I think that a much better idea would be to take the money and figure out the ideal amount for a "bounty" to bribe the worst teachers (and by this I don't mean "novice teachers who haven't gotten their shit together yet"; I'm thinking "consistently bad over many years of data.") to quit teaching and to promise never to teach again. And then cajole the education program to beef up the pre-requisites they require in order for future teachers to be admitted to their program.