Thursday, June 02, 2011

Should public schools guarantee teaching jobs or quality instruction for students?

Here's a response to Ravitch from the Education Action Group:


Should public schools guarantee teaching jobs or quality instruction for students?

Do we have a 'moral responsibility' to keep bad teachers employed?


By Steve Gunn

EAG Communications


     LAS VEGAS - Do public schools exist for students or the adults who staff them?

     That seems to be the crux of the debate between education reformers and the teachers unions.

     Diane Ravitch, a former official at the U.S. Department of Education, is definitely on the union side.

     She recently shared a story about a conversation she had with a school principal from California. She asked him what he thought about recent efforts to rid public schools of underperforming teachers.

     "He said that we must remember that one has a moral obligation not to terminate someone's livelihood and career without long and hard deliberation; failing to do so, he said, required taking responsibility for ruining someone's life," Ravitch said.

     We are more than happy to respond.

     What about our moral responsibility to provide a quality education for all students, Ms. Ravitch? You seem to have this idea that schools were created to provide permanent jobs for adults, regardless of their ability to perform their assigned task.

     If you are going to engage in the debate regarding education quality, please stick to the topic. Playing the violin on behalf of failed teachers will do nothing to improve our schools and the academic opportunities available to children.

     There are other jobs for failed teachers, Ms. Ravitch. An honorable teacher who lacks the passion or skills required for the position will walk away and find a more suitable line of work. That person will understand that teaching is a very specialized profession with a critical mission that some people cannot carry out.

     If these teachers do not walk away on their own, school administrators have a "moral obligation" to show them the door. Unfortunately, due to union power, administrators often lack the authority to do so.

     It's about the kids, not the adults, Ms. Ravitch. The sooner Americans accept that fundamental concept, the sooner we can fix our schools.

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