March 15, 2012

5 Things Teachers Could Learn from the Marines

By By Andrew J. Rotherham

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Fallujah probably isn’t the first place you’d go for ideas about how to improve our schools. It was the scene of some of the toughest fighting during the Iraqi War. But the city’s successful recapture by the United States highlighted why the Marines Corps is such a respected fighting force. In that battle, as in others, 19- and 20-year-old Marines were trusted to make extraordinary split-second decisions in an environment more dangerous and confusing than most of us can imagine. Yet back home in American schools, we still haven’t figured out how to give our teaching force – whose members are college graduates, more than half of whom have advanced degrees – autonomy and accountability in a far less dynamic workplace. In school districts and state capitals, we veer between giving teachers insufficient training and oversight and giving them almost no autonomy at all.

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