A bit o’ Mitt

Great teachers can deliver a great education — and that’s the key to a great nation, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney says.

“The single most important thing you could possibly do to help kids is to hire the best and brightest to teach in our schools,” the one-time GOP presidential candidate told the Alliance for Choice in Education 10th Anniversary Spring Luncheon last week.

“We need to do a better job in this country selecting, recruiting and paying to make sure that the very best teachers are teaching the kids of America,” he said.

Romney said studies by McKinsey and Company, a management consulting firm, found that capable teachers were the most important factor in student success. In Finland, where students rank highest in science and math, teachers are hired from the top 10 percent of their graduating class, he said. McKinsey found that the majority of U.S. teachers come from the bottom one-third.

Romney praised charter schools for helping students thrive and advocated incentives such as the ones he put into place while governor. Massachusetts high school students who score in the top 25 percent on an exam required for graduation receive four years of free tuition to any public university in the state.

“Incentives make a huge difference,” he said. “Good incentives can allow kids to have a very different life.”

Technology is another factor changing students’ lives and the face of education, he said.

“The productivity in education has lagged so far behind other sectors, and that’s going to change. There are a million kids in this country taking classes online,” Romney said, adding that computers used to track student progress can identify gaps in knowledge, then provide appropriate lessons to fill them.

“These principles – choice, charter schools, scholarships for the very best and brightest, hiring teachers with the very highest standards – are making a difference, and they will make a difference across the entire nation,” Romney said. “It’s a job we’ve got to get done.”
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