Why do I – a supporter of unions per se – rail against teachers\’ unions? Why do public school children in New York City do so poorly? Why is this true of so many other major cities around the country as well – (e.g. Chicago makes New York look good by comparison…and D.C. makes Chicago look good)?
Here\’s a little insight for you, via excerpts from Susan Edelman\’s and Amber Jamieson\’s article in today\’s New York Post (but please use the link to read it all, because this just skims the surface):
Sixstrikes and she\’s not out.
Thecity Department of Education has failed to fire a teacher rated”unsatisfactory” for six consecutive years. Ann Legra, 44, afirst-grade teacher at PS 173 in Washington Heights, racked up “sixyears of failing her students,” the city argued in a 16-daytermination hearing.
Hearingofficer Eugene Ginsberg upheld charges of Legra\’s “inability tosupervise students,” excessive lateness and absence and poor lessonplanning in the 2012-2013 school year.
Heimposed only a 45-day suspension without pay. Legra keeps her$84,500-a-year salary, but is now assigned to a pool of 1,400teachers who serve as substitutes.
Gov.Cuomo last month called the teacher-evaluation system “baloney”after the latest results revealed that fewer than 1 percent of thestate\’s teachers were rated ineffective.
Jobprotections for tenured teachers make it difficult to fire badapples. The system requires that each charge be proven in a trialwith witnesses, documents and arguments. The DOE must show theteacher was given training and chances to improve.
Thehearing officers – picked jointly by the DOE and the teachers union- frequently balk at termination, instead ordering a fine orsuspension and requiring the teacher to take courses.
How can the public school children in New York have a chance, when someone like this has been permitted to “teach” (talk about using a word loosely), after so many demonstrations that she should not be near a classroom?
How can the system itself have a chance when the teachers\’ union, instead of standing up for the children who are being educationally abused this way, fights tooth and nail for such teachers to keep their jobs?
And how is it possible that less than 1% of all public school teachers in New York City are rated ineffective? If 99%, or anywhere close, were actually effective, just about every school in New York would be turning out an unending stream of scholars, and would stand as a beacon of learning excellence for the country and the world. Which most assuredly does not happen.
According to a report from CBS News – New York, from 2009 to 2011, about one-third of fourth grade students in New York Public schools were proficient in math – proficient being just barely OK or more – and 29% were proficient in reading. Are you impressed? I know I\’m not.
But, as unpleasant as that may be, it is – relatively speaking – the good news. Because by 8th grade, the proficiency level was 24% for both math and reading.
Any wonder why I support charter schools which motivated students can escape to? Where lousy and/or indifferent teachers can\’t be protected by a union that is more interested in keeping those teachers…and their dues…..in place than whether students learn?
Please note that I am not saying all public schools are bad and all teachers who belong to unions are incompetent or uncaring. My wife and I personally know NYC public school teachers who we would have been thrilled to have had for our children.
The problem is not them. The problem is that teachers with a tiny fraction of their skills and commitment are just as available to students — and just as valued by the teachers\’ union.
The more we make charter schools available, and the less we tolerate teachers incapable of teaching, the better off we will be.