Friday, April 15, 2011


Yesterday, I wrote that I am reading Diane Ravitch's book entitled, THE DEATH AND LIFE OF THE GREAT AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM.

My sister-in-law, Connie, left a comment that said, "One thing that troubles me about the current system is that it seems there is not flexibility to get rid of a teacher who is not performing, especially an older one. What can or should be done about this?"

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH HER! It is very frustrating to see teachers who do not belong in education allowed to stay because the system makes it is so DIFFICULT to get them out.

Our employee handbook says, "Managers may use a number of tools to motivate, correct, and/or discipline employees, including, but not limited to warnings, reprimands, suspension with or without pay, and discharge, as determined to be appropriate in each individual circumstance. Progressive discipline may be used to correct employee behavioral or performance problems. However, there may be situations where the severity or seriousness of the offense justifies the omission of one or more of the steps in this process. Likewise, there may be situations where a disciplinary step is repeated. APS may discharge you from your employment for poor performance, misconduct, excessive absences,tardiness, discrimination or other violations of APS policies. If your employment is at-will, you or APS may terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any or no reason."

Under STANDARDS OF CONDUCT there are 31 Unacceptable Activities that include, but are not limited to, everything from: violations of directives and security, intoxication, harassment, disseminating personal student information and leaving work early or coming in late.

Two that speak speak specifically to the work we do are: Unsatisfactory or careless work, failure to meet work productivity or work quality standards. Insubordination or refusing to obey instructions properly issued by your supervisor pertaining to your work; refusal to help out on a special assignment.

It is not clear from the handbook what the Progressive Discipline Process is exactly, but I know the administrator has to show that they have taken a number of steps to work with the teacher, including, warnings, reprimands and putting them on an improvement plan for a set period of time before the district will look at getting rid of them.

I have first hand knowledge of teachers who are not doing their jobs. I know of teachers that show movies, every day. I know of teachers that stop teaching at 11:00 and then give busy work and free time the rest of the day, every day.  I know of teachers who's educational assistant does the teaching, every day. I know of teachers who throw books, arrive late, fail to leave sub plans and don't attend mandatory meetings and no action is ever taken against them.

I do not have all the answers....In my post on CHANGING EDUCATION, I did say the following...."instead of basing a "good" teacher on how well their kids choose to perform on a standardized test (what if the kid is sick, death in the family...any number of other reasons for not performing well) about starting with something easy like making it easier to get rid of those teachers who: spend all day outside playing, watching movies every day, playing/shopping on the computer while their kids read/write and create a hostile working environment. I bet 20% of BAD teachers could be eliminated using parameters such as these. Second, 30% could be eliminated by having the evaluation process changed. I think, having the principal "pop" in randomly, 5-6 times throughout the year (or even randomly taping my lessons) would give a much better, overall, picture of my abilities, then getting stressed out about one lesson, on one particular day. Another 20%, who are ready to retire, could have their contracts bought out or allow them to use the rest of their sick leave and end the year early. I have 4 1/2 months of sick leave accrued and when I retire I will lose whatever I don't use. 10% are probably abusive in some way and just haven't been caught yet. Then the last 20% are not being mentored well enough and have no idea how to improve. I lay the blame for this on the administration and the superintendent."

I do think they need to improve the process so that it is very specific and shorten the time lines for improvement, but the rest of us, who are doing our jobs, should not be treated as children or micromanaged because of it.


stART said...

Amen! These are simple, clear solutions to a major contributor to the education system in North America (Canada too!). The excellent teachers are burning out and leaving teaching because they can only do so much for their students when the other staff do nothing or, worse, sabotage their efforts!

KLTTX said...

This is interesting. My son is in first grade and he was originally assigned an older teacher who just did not want to be there anymore and was horrible. We threatened to put my son in private school (he is gifted but if he has a teacher that does not motivate him, he can have discipline problems). Luckily the principal reassigned him without too much trouble. Comes to find out, the "bad" teacher only has 11 kids in her class now becuase no one wants her to teach their kid. I am hoping she took the retirement incentives the distict offerred so other parents do not have to face her in the future.

Susan in SC said...

I am on the other side of the fence where my child had a young teacher who was more involved in her party life than in school. It almost destroyed my child. This year he has an older teacher who has helped him blossom. A bad teacher is a bad teacher regardless of age.

Connie said...

Interesting comments! My view is skewed since all the "junior" teachers who are being let go in our district are, in my view, wonderful teachers. No big party animals in the group!

Connie said...

It does sound like the tools are there to deal with the problems. If such behaviors are going on without any sort of repurcussion, that is a management issue.