Dissents Of The Day I

Tons of reader reaction to this post on teacher accountability. One writes:

I think you're overstating the ability to identify whether a teacher is incompetent.  A ROTTENAPPLEJoeKlamar:Getty teacher in order to get tenure in the first place has established competence for two or three years by not being laid off, excessed, or fired.  So they already have an established baseline of competence.  Now we're supposed to fire them at the first sign of evidence that they might no longer be competent?  That's not how it works in any field, anywhere.

Also, a bit of an English fail on your part.  Yglesias says, "It would give tenured teachers who are rated unsatisfactory by their principals a maximum of one school year to improve. If they did not, they could be fired within 100 days."  You proceed to interpret maximum as minimum and within as after.  Those are the opposite of what those words actually mean.

Another writes:

I'm not sure your theoretical situation would play out like that in the real world.  Most teacher reviews come at the end of the school year, in May or June - not February.  And you imply that the threat of termination wouldn't have much of an effect on a poor performer to raise his or her output level.

Also, the quote Yglesias highlights states that teachers would have one "school year" to improve.  That is not necessarily a full year, as you propose, but could merely be the time from September to May.  So you really paint a worse than worst-case scenario.

Another:

While I normally enjoy your take on things, your comments on this are horribly off base and blinkered. First of all, this teacher in your scenario would NOT be "enjoying their summer break." They would be expected and required to attend professional development courses to address their weaknesses in the classroom. As someone who has delivered this sort of instruction, it could mean two to three weeks of full 8-hour sessions.

Is that enough? Of course not. This same teacher would be expected to continue professional development throughout the course of the school year. And by the way, refusing to follow such instruction from an administrator IS a firing offense - union or no union.

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