This blog was first published on Education Next on October 22, 2019.
A charismatic charter network leader reminded us recently of his high-poverty schools’ laudable learning results. His secret sauce? Wooing the best teachers and principals away from surrounding districts.
We call this a “Talent Hog” strategy, and its prevalence explains, in part, why reforms that succeed in some schools fail at scale—leaving cities, states, and their children, back where they started. There is a better way, but it requires a policy solution.
For the record, this leader isn’t alone; many districts boast of the same strategy. Sometimes, we’ve even helped them plan and execute it. After all, teacher and principal quality are the top two factors within schools’ control that affect learning outcomes. New reforms—curricula, teaching methods, professional development, technology, governance, and so on—succeed or fail based on how well educators actually use them.