ASD Costs benefits

In a recent article, The Economist lamented how the current system of patents has become so bogged down protecting existing patent holders’ interests that novel breakthroughs that would have dramatic impact aren’t occurring. The magazine concluded, “The cost of the innovation that never takes place because of the flawed patent system is incalculable.” The same is true in education.  The beginning of another school year in which school districts and the state are encouraging seemingly radical interventions in our lowest performing schools is a perfect time to consider the application of this conclusion to education.

Establishing innovation zones, chartering schools, creating and growing an Achievement School District, even closing failing schools all seem drastic and disruptive to teachers, schools and the system. Aren’t schools supposed to be stable, and consistent over time? Are you not just experimenting on kids?  Those are some of the challenges raised by critics to reform.

But it may help to ask us which drastic disruption we’d rather face: the adults having to make dramatic changes to ensure the children in their schools succeed now, or the children facing the drastic and disruptive change when they leave the care of our public schools ill prepared for further education, work, or full citizenship?

Someone once said that education is the difference between a relatively happy, healthy life, and a life of constant struggle. But without effective and meaningful reform, the cost of innovation that never takes place in education is incalculable. In education, that cost is in human lives.

In education, we should reward and enable those teachers and school leaders who do whatever it takes to help more and more Tennessee children succeed and take charge of their own lives.

Tennessee’s constitution notes that the state “recognizes the inherent value of education and encourages its support.” So, this week, find something you can do to support a teacher, a classroom, a school, or an education leader working hard to prepare our children for success in post-secondary studies, in the workplace, in citizenship, and in life.

Pastor Marron Thomas of Innovation Church in Frayser said it best at a recent public school rally in Memphis—“We don’t have to do this. We get to do this!”


Rich Haglund is General Counsel & Chief Operating Officer for the Achievement School District.