Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fire them lousy teachers!

If you've been following Obama's education overhaul ideas, you've probably heard that one of the supposed "solutions" to fixing our schools is to fire all the teachers at schools with students who test poorly. Makes sense, right? If the kids aren't testing well, then they aren't learning. If they aren't learning, it's because the teachers aren't doing their jobs very well.

There is a school in my district where there are really low test scores and a high dropout rate. My school fares much better, and the obvious reason is that we simply have better teachers at my school. Of course, there's a school that does even better, so even though we're pretty darned good, we're not quite the best. Sure, some folks like to point out that the lower-performing school has more students from a lower socio-economic class, and the one that does well is in a relatively wealthy neighborhood. But what does that have to do with anything? George Bush even said that "All children can learn." Are you going to argue with him?

It's also fantastic that we'll finally get rid of all these bad teachers. After all, you might not know this, but there is a virtual army of qualified, talented would-be teachers who just can't break through the front door due to all of these crappy teachers with their "tenure" who aren't making way for this fresh and exciting top talent. Well, fear this no longer!

I remember when I was teaching summer school some years back, there were a couple of teachers who were having a tough time getting a regular job in my district. And let me tell you, these guys were grade-A talent! They commanded so much respect from the kids that they felt comfortable letting the kids wander around the hallways almost a half hour before class was over! That's some pretty good control. I'm not good enough to trust my kids to just go waltzing out the door on a whim. I have to be some kind of crazy control-freak who wants them in the classroom until class is over!

Thank goodness we're not trying to do something and hold the kids and their parents accountable in this scenario. After all, we teachers see these kids for nine months (not counting weekends and holiday breaks) a year. How can parents compete with us for the hearts and minds of their children? I'm sure that there are a lot of parents who have books around their house, take time to talk to their kids about world events, science, and literature, and yet they still can't get their kids enthused due to the horrible job that some of these teachers are doing.

And how can we expect the kids to learn when they have better things to do? Some of them would rather hang out with their friends than do their homework. Well, maybe that homework is hella boring and gay. If these crappy teachers would stop giving such hella gay boring retarded assignments, then maybe the kids would be more enthusiastic about going to school and would actually start trying! One thing's for sure, if they're not learning, it certainly can't be their fault. If some kid only shows up to class once a week, sleeps through the class, and doesn't do any of his or her work, clearly it's the teacher's fault.


Matthew said...

Ok, I get it and I agree. But, I have to ask, when is it the teacher's fault? I know that good teachers don't get paid what they are probably worth, and one way to compensate for that lack of compensation is through tenure. But, I can't think of many other jobs that get this kind of security. Not many jobs work like that. Most of the time you can get laid off or fired even after years of stellar work. It seams like there should be a mechanism for identifying and removing bad teachers.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Good point. Trust me, I don't like the idea of crappy teachers keeping their jobs any more than you. In fact, I might hate it even more, as it tends to give all of us teachers a bad name.

Obviously, no system would be perfect, and some lousy ones keeping their jobs will always be the price we pay. However, I've known a few who were crappy, and everybody knew that they were bad. There are certainly things we can identify - can they keep the class under control? Are they doing lessons on the required material? (Or are they just showing movies?)

There certainly needs to be something in place that makes it easier to remove the bad apples. I would never argue that point. However, blaming us for kids who don't give a crap isn't even a step in the right direction.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Oh, and just to add a little bit to it. I hate to say it, but one of the reasons that lousy teachers can keep their jobs has a lot to do with the fact that there really isn't anybody better qualified to take the job. Sad, but unfortunately true.