There are a lot of reasons why teacher tenure laws are part of most state constitutions. One of these is arbitrary dismissal of ostensibly bad teachers, which might be little more than an accusation by a single disgruntled parent. A new California non-profit group called Students Matter, however, believes that teacher dismissal should be quicker and less costly than it currently is in the state.
The Los Angeles Times’ Howard Blume interviewed LA Unified School District administrators and others in this fact-laden article.
Personally, although it can take forever to get rid of a bad teacher, the time and effort to do so is no less than the due process an accused law breaker could expect. There are rigorous procedures involved to protect against unfounded accusations that could result in defamation and the destruction of an individual’s career and life.
The reality is that the process itself can result in improvement in a “bad teacher’s” teaching. Often, an individual who is accused of poor teaching has no idea that he or she is not doing an adequate job, and the procedures involved can actually give the teacher the training to improve and enhance both competency and the classroom experience.
Some school districts, like LAUSD, are taking steps to facilitate the effort and costs involved in a teacher’s dismissal. Heaven knows, LAUSD has had it’s share of teacher dismissals this year, and not due to budget problems, but due to inappropriate teacher behavior. Somehow, the dismissals were handled with alacrity and without law suits by the dismissed individuals. It seems that LAUSD may have a dismissal method that works.
Personally, I would much rather see improvement in an educator’s teaching due to intervention than to see an arbitrary dismissal based on inadequate or nonexistent documentation–or the judgment of an ill-informed administrator.
But that’s just my opinion…