Thursday, May 28, 2009

Getting rid of bad teachers

One of the big reasons why public schools are ineffective in educating children is it is so very hard to get rid of bad teachers. The LA Times reports Firing tenured teachers can be a costly and tortuous task:

The Times reviewed every case on record in the last 15 years in which a tenured employee was fired by a California school district and formally contested the decision before a review commission: 159 in all (not including about two dozen in which the records were destroyed). The newspaper also examined court and school district records and interviewed scores of people, including principals, teachers, union officials, district administrators, parents and students.Among the findings:

* Building a case for dismissal is so time-consuming, costly and draining for principals and administrators that many say they don't make the effort except in the most egregious cases. The vast majority of firings stem from blatant misconduct, including sexual abuse, other immoral or illegal behavior, insubordination or repeated violation of rules such as showing up on time.
* Although districts generally press ahead with only the strongest cases, even these get knocked down more than a third of the time by the specially convened review panels, which have the discretion to restore teachers' jobs even when grounds for dismissal are proved.
* Jettisoning a teacher solely because he or she can't teach is rare. In 80% of the dismissals that were upheld, classroom performance was not even a factor.

Keeping bad teachers has several consequences:

1) Most bad teachers are not motivated to improve. Why bother, they have the job almost no matter what they do.
2) Average and good teachers are unmotivated. Why should they put themselves out to do a good job? Competence is not rewarded, only tenure is rewarded.
3) And the biggest consequence of all is students in government schools are getting a very poor education.

The next time someone claims parents can't teach because they are not professionals, I consider encouraging them to read about how many teachers are not really professionals either.

(Hat tip: Friends of Dave)

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, government schools, public school, public education, education

1 comment:

Wenonah4th said...

We had this experience in my [otherwise relatively reasonable 1980s/1990s] grade school: the music teacher wasn't a very good teacher. In fairness, I think he was a perfectly fine person and there wasn't anything improper about his conduct; he simply wasn't good as a teacher. (As a neighbor, a good man, who ought to have done something else for a living.) But he had been tenured for many years, and so he had to stay. Alas, there weren't many music students from my grade school at the high school.