Tuesday, July 14, 2009

One of the reasons public schools don't improve

A major impediment to improvement in public schools is that public school officials making bad decisions rarely suffer consequences. It is almost impossible to fire a bad teacher with tenure.

In Proof Districts can't reform themselves, Dave references an article where a Girl was suspended for videotaping unruly class. The article starts with:

Allison Moore says she and her 15-year-old daughter complained for months about the chaotic environment in a Clayton Valley High School math class.
"The students weren't behaving," Moore said of the third period Introduction to Algebra class. "The teacher couldn't control the students. They were making a ruckus everyday, making it difficult to learn."
The ninth-grade students threw things around the room. Shortly after Christmas, students told the Times, someone exploded Play-Doh in the microwave, resulting in a smoke-filled classroom that teacher Michael Huang refused to air out. In other classes Huang taught, they said, students lit trash can fires and smoked cigarettes or even marijuana.
Moore said she told administrators about the problems in February, but added little seemed to change.


The girl is very frustrated. She wants to learn. She isn't learning. Finally after months of complaining she video tapes the class one day on her cell phone. A friend of hers puts it up on the internet. The school officials find out and suspend her.

Dave raises some good points:

This school has wasted an entire year of educational opportunity in math for these students. They will never get that time back. Yet, from the article it doesn't sound like any of the adults involved have any consequences. Sure, the teacher won't be there next year, but he had already resigned. Where are the consequences for the principal who ignored nearly a full school year's worth of complaints about the classroom? Wouldn't it have made sense for the principal to stop by at least once? Is there any doubt that they would have witnessed the chaos these students describe?

I wonder if the rules should be changed to allow students to video tape their classes. Maybe we'd get a little more accountability.

Technorati tags: parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education


SAHMinIL said...

I was able to watch the videos from the classroom. At first I felt bad for the girl that took the video, but after viewing it I'm not sure if she's totally "innocent" and was JUST video taping it.

The reason I say that is because at the beginning of what is shown of the throwing of paper balls she (the maker of the video) seems to cheering.

videos here: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid14868457001?bctid=26338699001 and http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid14868457001?bctid=26337703001

Jim Vining said...

The statement is false that tenured employees cannot be removed. What is true is you do not hear about it because of employment confidentiality.

Henry Cate said...

SAHMinIL - thanks for the videos. From the newspaper article it doesn't appear anyone is challenging the claim that the class was badly run.

Jim - My original phrase was "almost impossible." I recognize that it is possible to fire bad teachers, but it takes way too much effort, and too often bad teachers are allowed to stay in public schools.

SAHMinIL said...

Yeah it's clear the class is badly run, and you're right no one is challenging that. I just don't think the maker of the video (the girl) is just an innocent by stander as she clams. That's just based on the few mintues that I saw. It to me really does seem the girl (the video's maker) is cheering and encouraging her classmates.