A lot of attention was given to the military strategy of the surge, as used in the American engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. The concept is as follows: amp up the military resources in the area to quickly make a lot of progress in achieving goals (namely, suppressing the military opposition). If effective, then enough progress was made that the increase in resources can then be reversed so that a lower amount of resources can maintain the status obtained, such as less violence. In Iraq, this meant sending a lot of soldiers over there so we could defeat enough of the opposition that we could back ourselves out, replacing our presence with a lower amount of actual Iraqi soldiers that could maintain the lower amount of violence.
I got thinking though: could this concept apply to education? Let me walk you through my thinking.
When we have a struggling school or district, there are several factors in play. This is just like the military example. When a school or district is struggling, morale can drop, and discipline/motivation go down for the teachers. This is also similar to how it can be with morale for soldiers in a situation with little hope. When you increase hope, you increase morale. In the military surge, you increase hope by throwing a lot of resources, including more soldiers, into the area. Could the same happen with teachers in a school district?
Obviously, teaching is an area where you have longer-term work and longer-term results. Military campaigns also have long-term work and results, but you can also have short-term, high-visibility victories. Education has fewer of these. What would happen though if we through not just more teachers, but other resources as well into a struggling school district for something like a two-year “surge”. Could they be so effective in those two years that when it’s over, the original crew of teachers, with a few changes, might be able to continue the results that occurred during the surge? What do you think?