Thursday, November 15, 2007

A New Effort To Remove Bad Teachers

I was going to write a commentary on this article, but the horror of what will be happening should not be paraphrased. Since NCLB has been enacted, we are putting children in classes they do not have the intellect to pass. Kids, counting on their fingers and reading on a first and second grade level are expected to take algebra. No wonder so many are failing. The lawmakers can't be blamed. The principals can't be blamed. It is not the fault of the parents. All kids can learn. Someone must take responsibility. I guess it will be all those bad teachers.

November 15, 2007
A New Effort to Remove Bad Teachers
The Bloomberg administration is beginning a drive to remove unsatisfactory teachers, hiring new teams of lawyers and consultants who will help principals build cases against tenured teachers who they believe are not up to the job. It is also urging principals to get rid of sub-par novices before they earn tenure.

At the center of the effort is a new Teacher Performance Unit of five lawyers, headed by a former prosecutor fresh from convicting a former private school principal who had a sexual relationship with a student.

A separate team of five consultants, including former principals, will work with principals to improve struggling teachers’ performance. In cases where the teachers fail to get better, the consultants will help amass the documentation necessary to oust them.

The plans, at a cost of $1 million a year, are described in a memo and an accompanying letter to principals from Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. In the letter, he urged principals to help teachers improve but added, “When action must be taken, the disciplinary system for tenured teachers is so time-consuming and burdensome that what is already a stressful task becomes so onerous that relatively few principals are willing to tackle it. As a result, in a typical year only about one-hundredth of 1 percent of tenured teachers are removed for ineffective performance.

“This issue simply must be tackled,” he wrote.

In the memo, Dan Weisberg, the Education Department’s chief executive for labor policy and implementation, wrote that the Teacher Performance Unit “represents a significant infusion of resources that will ensure we have the capacity to seek the removal of all ineffective tenured teachers who, in spite of receiving the time and support sufficient to allow them to substantially improve, won’t or can’t do it.”

The unit, Mr. Weisberg wrote, “will also allow us to seek discipline where appropriate in a wider range of cases than before.” The unit is being run by Florence Chapin, a former Manhattan assistant district attorney.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the city’s teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, called the lawyers a “teacher gotcha unit” and said she found it “disgusting” that the Education Department would issue such a memo after the release of new school report cards that bluntly grade schools A through F.

“We’ve always been concerned that the first thing that would happen after somebody put out progress reports would be principals would go after teachers,” Ms. Weingarten said. “Basically, it’s signaling to principals that rather than working to support teachers, the school system is going to give you a way to try to get rid of teachers.”

New York City has roughly 80,000 public school teachers, and once they receive tenure it is notoriously difficult to remove them, because of the union contract and state labor law, which guards the rights of tenured public employees with an elaborate process of hearings and appeals.

Only about 10 to 15 tenured teachers a year leave the system after being charged with incompetence. Other teachers are removed for outright misconduct.

More than 700 school employees, mostly teachers, are now assigned to centers known as “rubber rooms,” after having been removed from the classroom. While school officials say those employees are under investigation or at some stage in the disciplinary process, teachers’ union officials say that many have had no charges filed against them.

Mr. Klein has long spoken out against three poles of the civil service system for teachers — seniority rights, lifetime tenure and lock-step pay.

The city and Ms. Weingarten recently agreed on a plan to reward teachers for outstanding performance by allowing successful schools to compete for bonuses that would allow them to dole out extra pay to teachers.

The push to remove bad teachers represents the flip side of the equation and comes as the city is less than a year into an effort to get principals to more rigorously review probationary teachers who are up for tenure.

Mr. Weisberg said in an interview that he did not know how many tenured teachers would be removed. He said there “probably will be an increase” in incompetence charges.

“I believe very strongly that the number of these struggling tenured teachers is very small compared to the total number of teachers, but even if it is 1 percent, even if it is half of 1 percent, we have to address it,” he said.

Since the mayor earlier this year announced a more rigorous tenure review process for probationary teachers, the numbers denied tenure at the end of the three-year probationary period has increased modestly.

Since late March, when the new system started, 66 probationary teachers were denied tenure , or 1.3 percent of those eligible. In the previous school year tenure was denied to 25 teachers, or .5 percent of those eligible.

In addition, 115 teachers had their probationary period extended this year, up from 30 in the previous year.

Mr. Weisberg’s memo also described a new program, agreed to by the teachers union, under which principals can call upon teachers from outside the school system to spend three months observing tenured teachers in danger of being disciplined for incompetence.

The memo said that while the outside teachers may help floundering teachers, their written evaluations would also “likely carry a great deal of weight in disciplinary proceedings seeking the teacher’s termination.”

1 comment:

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Is one paranoid if a principal and an army of Liars opps Lawyers are out to get them?