April 22, 2009
Statement by Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers,
On McKinsey & Company's Report:
The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools
WASHINGTON—The report released today by McKinsey & Company aligns with the AFT's view that there is a clear link between wise investments in our nation's schools and the strength of our nation's economy.
The report, titled The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools, rightly points to the possible benefits of developing national standards for what students should learn. But it does little to advance other policies that could transform American education: better access to high-quality early childhood education; comprehensive approaches to attracting and retaining highly skilled teachers; and innovative ideas like community schools that provide wraparound services. Even as we work to improve what goes on in our schools and classrooms, we must do more as a nation to understand and address the out-of-classroom issues that too often affect a child's ability to reach her potential. And our current economic crisis should give us all pause in relying upon "market strategies" to address the issues confronting our schools. No strategy is a substitute for standards, leadership, accountability and input from the people who do the work day in and day out.
The uninformed and the ideologically driven may use this report as an excuse to attack public schools and propose unproven "silver bullets" to address issues that instead require thoughtful, proven and sustainable reforms. We do not believe this was the report's intent. We hope McKinsey & Company, having spent considerable resources to identify achievement gaps and measure their consequences, is ready to work with teachers as we implement the types of reforms that will make our schools the best in the world.
# # # #
The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.