Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nevada should quit protecting bad teachers

I'm quoted in this article about how Nevada protects even the worst teachers:

Which industry in Nevada terminates less than one percent of its employees for poor performance, incompetence or criminal behavior? If you said "Public Education," give yourself a gold star.

According to the Center for American Progress, a left-of-center think tank, and the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, Nevada's school districts terminated or failed to renew the contracts of just 0.2 percent of "untenured teachers" and 0.3 percent of "tenured teachers" in 2007-08. Overall, Nevada kept 99.4 percent of its teachers that year. Only Arkansas, Delaware and Pennsylvania fired fewer teachers.

Either Nevada somehow attracts and retains the best teachers on the planet, or the state is packing kids into classrooms with unacceptably high odds they will be taught by ineffective, if not incompetent, teachers.

The latter is more likely the correct answer.

Teacher unions across the country have done an excellent job protecting the interests of their members, but often at the expense of the students. Tenure and seniority privileges (along with an entirely inadequate metric for evaluating teachers) allow bad teachers to continue "educating" students. Getting rid of bad teachers, even in Nevada, is notoriously difficult. Often it takes months if not years of conferences, meetings, counseling sessions and negotiations in order to terminate seriously bad teachers.

…Fortunately, teacher unions' ability to manipulate public opinion is waning, as people grow impatient with years of repeated failure in the classroom. After years of blaming everyone else, people on both sides of the political aisle are zeroing in on the unions' bad policy on bad teachers.

Indeed, as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says, "When inflexible seniority and rigid tenure rules that we designed put adults ahead of children — then we are not only putting kids at risk, we are putting the entire education system at risk."

Whitney Tilson, of Democrats for Education Reform, agrees. He's identified "Three Pillars of Mediocrity" in public education that must be reformed:

1) Lifetime tenure,
2) Lockstep pay, and
3) Seniority (instead of merit).

Nevada must address those issues to ensure we have good teachers in the classroom.


Nevada should quit protecting bad teachers

Posted by Patrick Gibbons on Apr 29th, 2010


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