San Jose Mercury News: The key to survival — savor the triumphs

In a great series of articles, Larry Slonaker has been reporting on the seventh grade teaching he did last year while on a leave of absence from his job as a staff writer at the Mercury News.

There are a billion complicated ideas on how to fix public education, which would require a zillion dollars to implement. But there’s actually a very simple solution. It has only three parts:

1. Attract a sufficient number of able teachers. Make teaching more attractive, by improving salaries and working conditions.

2. Help them become better. Give them all the support they need, especially in those first excruciating months and years.

3. Find the ones who want to keep teaching, and give them enough money to make them stay. If a private industry executive is great at making goals, he or she can be amply rewarded with a raise or bonus. If teachers are great at helping kids learn, they merely go on to the next incremental salary step — the same “reward” given to the incompetent ones whose kids have to be scraped off the walls with a spatula.

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