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Thu Jun 12, 2014, 08:22 AM

Making it easier to fire teachers won't get you better ones [View all]

Tuesday's ruling by Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu, which held that California's contract with teachers violates the state's constitutional guarantee to an equitable education, is certain to set off legal battles across the nation. Explaining his ruling, Treu wrote that inequities in teaching quality, which disproportionately affect low-income and minority students, "shock the conscience." And he's right. They do. Yet his ruling will do nothing to solve the problem.

In challenging tenure, seniority-based layoffs and the teacher dismissal process, the Vergara suit was, its backers claimed, an effort to guarantee "an effective teacher in every classroom." The implication is that teachers are wholly uninterested in professional growth. Protected as they are by unions and collective bargaining agreements, teachers are likely to simply settle in and stop trying once they are awarded tenure.

Research does indicate that, though teachers tend to improve by leaps and bounds in their first few years on the job, they often plateau after that. And supporters of the Vergara suit would like the public to believe that there is a simple reason for this: job security. If it were easier to fire teachers, they reason, classroom educators would be motivated to continue growing over the full arc of their careers. Our most senior teachers would be our best teachers.

That logic, however, is deeply flawed. Teachers stall out not because they stop caring but because they lack guidance and support. Engaged in difficult and demanding work, even gifted teachers need relevant, robust and continuous professional development opportunities. But very few get it, particularly in schools serving high-needs students. As a result, most teachers realize only a fraction of their full potential.

...But there's a lot stacked against them. American educators teach an average of 25% to 30% more hours than their counterparts in other industrialized nations, leaving little time for anything beyond treading water. They receive little guidance about what they should read or what new techniques are of the greatest value. Professional development is often problematic, delivered too infrequently, too generally and conveying ideas of questionable merit. And standardized accountability testing tends to discourage even the mildest forms of experimentation...


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Reply Making it easier to fire teachers won't get you better ones [View all]
BeyondGeography Jun 2014 OP
yeoman6987 Jun 2014 #1
femmocrat Jun 2014 #2
Doctor_J Jun 2014 #3
DamnYankeeInHouston Jun 2014 #5
blkmusclmachine Jun 2014 #6
TheJames Jun 2014 #4
blkmusclmachine Jun 2014 #7