China Daily | Moving teachers around not enough on its own

To make the distribution of public education resources fairer, many cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, have released regulations in response to the call of the central authorities for education reform that will rotate teachers of public primary and junior middle schools.
According to the regulations that will be carried out from the start of the new semester on Wednesday, headmasters and teachers of public schools are required to work at different schools for certain periods of time. In so doing, the reformers expect to fill the gap between the prestigious schools and those common ones so that the nine-year compulsory education can become fairer.
However, whether the reform can achieve that objective depends on how it will be carried out. That’s why the public is holding a wait-and-see attitude to it.
As a matter of fact, Beijing piloted a similar work shift reform seven years ago for the same purpose. But the reform seems to have come to nothing. Otherwise, the city would not have reintroduced the reform again. This round of work shift reform of teachers must heed the lessons of the previous trials.
Transferring the limited number of experienced teachers from a small number of key schools to more common schools, and filling the key schools with teachers from other schools, do not necessarily mean win-win results. The reason why some schools can stand out from their peers is because of their long-term accumulation of not only teaching experience and methods, but also management and a commitment-to-excellence atmosphere.
The fairness of a public education system does not lie in egalitarian-oriented reform aimed at making all schools the same, but the fairness of its screening mechanism that enrolls students on their merits, not family backgrounds.
Dispersing the best teachers from key schools in a city to other schools citywide without establishing a system for nurturing high-quality teachers will not inevitably improve the teaching quality at the schools to which they move. But it will undoubtedly lower the quality of teaching at the schools from whence they are shifted.
So the education authorities should pay more attention to prompting the key schools to share their management experience with the other schools, and give more support to help the latter improve their training programs and conditions for their faculties.
Before the widening income gap in the country is effectively addressed, it will be difficult to level the competition for children from different families. So the education reform has to be accompanied by reforms in other social and economic sectors to avoid overreaching itself. Editorial, China Daily

Categories Opinion