Friday, December 18, 2009

Fire poor teachers? It’s unethical NOT to

     Teachers in Los Angeles serve a two-year probationary period, during which they are "at-will" employees who can easily be fired. At the end of the probationary period they automatically get tenure and are, for all practical purposes, impossible to fire.
     An investigation by the Los Angeles Times  has shown that teachers in LA  are routinely given tenure at the end of the two years, without any meaningful evaluation of their performance. Ramon Cortines, the LA superintendent, told the L. A. Times, “This is about to change. We do not owe poor performers a job.”
     Cortines is on solid ethical grounds; it’s not a close call. The Golden Rule requires us to look after the weaker members of our society. Who weaker than schoolchildren? And the responsibility falls especially heavily on people who are paid to look after the weak.
     So why are so many education bigwigs fighting Cortines? A. J. Duffy, head of the teachers union, objects thus: “Administrators are not properly trained to evaluate teachers.” Julie Slayton, a teacher at USC and former head of research and planning for the school district, blasts Cortines for a knee-jerk reaction to outside pressure.
     While we’re sacrificing our children’s futures to poor teaching, too many education professionals are more interested in protecting their turf than in education. This is an ethical failure of the highest order.

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