Yglesias hopes it's going to get easier:
Good news: “Responding to criticism that tenure gives even poor teachers a job for life, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, announced a plan Thursday to overhaul how teachers are evaluated and dismissed. 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.”
Okay. Now do this thought experiment and try and simulate it in a private sector context. Say there's a teacher who is cited by his principal in February for dismal performance. If he's still a terrible teacher in April, no problem. Come May, he needn't have improved. In June, he can send his underprepared students on to the next grade, enjoy his summer vacation, and return in September to a new class, educating them poorly too. In fact, those kids will keep falling behind in October, November, December and January. Finally, February rolls around again. A year later, the teacher hasn't improved a bit. Can he be fired?
No, the principal then must wait 100 days. And that's the concession. My own view is that if unions did less protection of mediocrity and more protection of wages and benefits, their general image would improve drastically. But they cannot expect to continue their bad old ways and win public support in recessionary America.