Feinberg Recommendations for Handling Teacher Misconduct Casesw
Ken Feinberg is a great American (among many other things, he handled the 9/11 victims compensation fund and is doing the same for Gulf Coast residents and businesses impacted by last summer's oil spill), but I think he got in over his head and got taken for a ride by the AFT in this report he authored on how to streamline teacher misconduct cases (attached and at http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/education/20110118-Feinberg-Report-Procedure-for-Teacher-Discipline.pdf). Sure, his recommendations, if implemented, would be better than the status quo, but they don't go nearly far enough and therefore could do harm if adopted because everyone will think the problem is fixed.
The worst part of it is that it only addresses teacher misconduct, not incompetence! The latter is the real problem. Nearly all of the harm being done to children by terrible teachers isn't in the form of beatings, sexual harassment and the like – the only things covered in Feinberg's report – it's teachers who are unwilling or unable to impart knowledge to children, who are barely literate themselves, who tear children down rather than inspire them, who have low/no expectations rather than setting the bar high, etc.
My second big problem with Feinberg's report is that sets a 100-day limit for teacher misconduct processes. What a sad statement on the Alice-in-Wonderland world of our schools that anyone would hail this as progress! 2-3 days would be more appropriate.
You know the report is weak when the AFT praises it:
We believe that Mr. Feinberg has produced a thoughtful and commonsense approach for addressing accusations of teacher wrongdoing. It attempts to ensure fairness and due process, as well as transparency and expediency. The proposal establishes a path for an informal resolution within 20 days, and ensures that, if a formal hearing is necessary, the final judgment will be made in 100 days. Under Mr. Feinberg's proposal, there will be no more "rubber rooms." Cases of teacher wrongdoing will no longer languish for months or years before they are resolved.
To: Interested Parties
From: Michael Powell, Assistant to the President for Communications
Date: January 21, 2011
Subject: Feinberg Recommendations for Handling Teacher Misconduct Cases