The American Federation of Teachers announced a plan this week to sharpen the process of weeding out the worst in its classroom ranks, The New York Times reports. Some education experts greeted the tenure-reform proposal warily, calling it a start but also a potential delay tactic to defuse public anger over incompetent, hard-to-fire teachers.
AFT president Randi Weingarten
said the union’s plan would step up teacher evaluations, limit the time allowed for poorly rated instructors to improve and speed up their dismissals. The idea, Weingarten said, is not to eliminate tenure but to discourage “tenure as an excuse” for avoiding “legitimate evaluations of teachers.”
Critics countered that school districts, not self-interested unions, should be the ones to develop and execute beefed-up teacher quality control.
“In any other field this would be considered completely nuts that a manager would not have rights and responsibilities to evaluate their employees and take action,” said Michael J. Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education policy group.
The debate over bad teachers has heated up with the coming of layoffs that, under existing union contracts, will favor longevity over talent and make it tougher for cost-cutting school districts to hang on to the best, as opposed to the most embedded, teachers.
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