The Citizen's Monday editorial ("Achievement, income linked") was both on and off the mark.
The editorial states, "Public schools serving high-income families perform very well. Schools serving poor families tend to founder."
This is broadly true but a bit overstated. In 2005, the National Assessment of Educational Progress reported that 25 percent of Arizona fourth-graders from middle or higher-income households tested "below basic" on reading. Even Arizona children from high-income families cannot take an internationally competitive education, or even basic literacy, for granted.
The editorial also notes that low-income children are least likely to receive instruction from high-quality teachers.
Research shows that the quality of the teacher makes a bigger difference than any other variable. The best way to bring disadvantaged children up to par is to surround them with highly effective teachers.
But simply redistributing the limited number of highly effective instructors within the system will not solve this problem.
We need to measure teacher effectiveness based on the learning gains each student makes and tie teacher compensation to those results.
Treating teachers as true professionals, by compensating them according to results, will provide incentives and help attract more talented young adults into the profession.
Steven Killian is a Ronald Reagan Fellow at the Goldwater Institute