Imagine if every NFL player's salary was based on how long he had played, and if players who made it through three seasons could almost never be fired. "It's about tenure, not talent" in this alternate reality, writes NFL Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton in the Wall Street Journal. And the results are not hard to imagine: "The on-field product would steadily decline." And while more money could be spent on better stadiums and technology, but that would have no impact on performance. Of course, Tarkenton's alternate reality "is the real-life American public education system," he writes.
Teachers are rewarded for time on the job, not excellence or effort. Tenured teachers are essentially guaranteed a job for life, "no matter how bad the performance might be." Despite the fact that the US spends more per student than any other country besides Switzerland, our educational system continues to languish—and the new buildings and better computers aren't impacting student performance. "Officials assume the answer is that we haven't spent enough," and President Obama's jobs plan calls for spending billions more on school modernization, but that's the very definition of insanity, Tarkenton writes. The only way to get results is to "reward great teachers ... and get rid of bad teachers who don't get the job done."