Crisis in the Classroom

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: May 03, 2009 10:36 PM
If you are ready to be shocked and appalled, read this LA Times story about how difficult it is to fire teachers in California.

Much like the old cliche about politics -- how what's shocking isn't what's illegal, it's what's legal -- it isn't too surprising to read what will get a teacher fired.  What's amazing is what a teacher can do and not get fired.

Like tell a student who tried to commit suicide by slitting his wrists, "Cut deeper next time" and "you can't even kill yourself."

Like keep a stash of pornography, marijuana and vials with cocaine residue at school.

Like tolerate student-on-student violence in a fourth grade classroom.

There's so much more in the linked piece, and it will make your hair stand on end.

When folks like these remain in the classroom, it's obvious that simple laziness, failure to perform, or inability to teach are going to be completely ignored.

The piece makes it clear that teachers' unions have made it their mission to make sure that no teacher -- however terrible -- can be fired.  It is absolutely mind-blowing.

For a long time, teachers have asserted the right to be treated like professionals.  Fair enough.  But professionals have to be accountable for their performance -- and willing to be evaluated or compensated based on how they perform.

There are many good teachers out there who are no doubt sickened and appalled by the others, who are doing nothing but warming a seat until their pensions kick in.  If we're at all serious about supporting those master teachers for whom instruction is truly a vocation -- and, most of all, the young people depending on them -- we'll get serious about getting rid of the others.