Take this flow chart for example, which outlines the steps that must be taken to fire a bad teacher in New York City. It was so huge that it wouldn’t fit on the page (below is just a snippet), so check out the file for the whole convoluted thing.
A good point was made here:
For current wages and under current working conditions, there’s no ready supply of good teachers to replace those who would be fired if we made firing teachers easier. The California Basic Educational Standards Test, required to receive a California teaching credential, requires a tenth-grade reading score. And California is so short of teachers that it has to give emergency credentials to some applicants who flunked the C-BEST.
The key word here seems to be wages. Most people, myself included, don’t think teachers get paid enough….perhaps if we make teaching a job *worth* having and *worth* performing well at, the need for discussion over firing practices may be moot. However, holding principals responsible for the teaching performances of the 100 or so teachers under their care doesn’t seem quite fair either.
When I was in high school, there was a certain teacher than came to school drunk almost everyday. His face was red, his speech was slurred, and all day he sipped out of a mystery cup which had a distinctive odor. Everyone knew it, I’m sure his fellow teachers and staff knew it, and we all wondered why it was allowed to go on. Obviously, it impacted his teaching quite a bit. However, I recently learned that this person is still teaching there (whether his practices have changed since I was there, who knows). I certainly think that such a situation merits firing, and the fact that he wasn’t displays a real flaw in the system.
I sometimes wonder if, on the unlikely chance I have kids, whether I’ll send them to public or private schools. I’m a product of public schools, and its worked out ok obviously, but the amount of bad teaching, anti-scientific attitudes, apathy, and abuse of power I’ve seen makes me uncomfortable with the state of public education. I’ve also had some awesome, truly caring teachers who impacted me in an entirely positive way. Sad to say though, they were few and far between. Happy to say, they were enough.