The President and Secretary deserve credit for advancing the teacher quality agenda–a tough thing for democrats to do. Some of the credit for that goes to Jon Schnur and DFER. Because we don’t have very good predictive techniques, it’s important to watch teachers in their first few years, keep the best, and ask 10-20% or so that don’t appear cut out for teaching to find a new job. Historically, 99% of teachers have been granted lifetime employment. The idiocy of this policy is finally coming to light. Two examples follow.
NY Chancellor Joel Klein wrote a candid piece for the NY Daily Post which ran with the headline: Get Incompetent Teachers Off the Payroll:
The most important factor in a child’s education is the quality of his or her teachers. That’s why we are working so hard to ensure only our best educators are in front of the classroom.
But it is just as important that in the relatively few cases where teachers are found to be incompetent — or worse — we get them out of classrooms, and off the city’s payroll, as soon as possible.
Last year, the city spent approximately $30 million on the salaries of teachers who sat in reassignment centers doing nothing. We could save those millions by taking the following steps:
Remove employees from payroll while their cases proceed. When teachers are formally charged with misconduct or incompetence and there is probable cause to believe they are guilty, they should be taken off payroll pending the outcome of the charges. Exonerated teachers would receive back pay plus interest.
Adhere to prompt timelines for disciplinary action. State law and the teachers contract require hearings to take no more than 60 days to complete, but that deadline is never enforced and rarely met. We should mandate that hearings take place within 30 days after charges are filed, that they last no more than five days, and that arbitrators issue decisions within 24 hours.
Let full-time judges decide cases. We could greatly speed up the hearing process if teachers went before administrative-law judges. The arbitrators who currently oversee teacher cases hold hearings just five times a month, while administrative-law judges hear cases every business day.
No one starting from scratch would set up such a dysfunctional disciplinary system. The only people this system serves well are teachers no parent would willingly allow to educate their kids.
LA Weekly published a hard hitting piece called LAUSD’s Dance of the Lemons. Whitney Tilson said, “It is as well-researched, devastating and totally infuriating as Steven Brill’s “Rubber Room” New Yorker article that was the single best ed reform article of 2009.” (Thanks to Whitney for pointing us to both.)