If you thought that class sizes and teachers' salaries were sacrosanct, you might want to take a peek at Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's recent speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. In his remarks from November 18, Duncan warned that we have entered a time of a "new normal" and that "for the next several years, preschool, K‐12, and postsecondary educators are likely to face the challenge of doing more with less."
Less in terms of money, more in terms of heads per classroom.
Duncan said that the country should stop thinking about this as an "eat-your-broccoli exercise," and start thinking about it as an opportunity for "innovation and accelerating process." Among other things, this means updating an antiquated model with 21st-century technology.
The general consensus is that the best way to improve schools is to offer more competitive salaries for teachers and keep class sizes smaller. But do these things really matter? Is there any way America can recapture its edge on education even as educational leaders are calling for across-the-board cuts? Is there technology out there that can help a system that could soon be struggling with less money and more students per classroom? What should define a classroom in the age of the "new normal"?