Breaking Bad

Bad accountants need to be fired. Such a simple phrase; so easy to say.  Why is it then, if you simply substitute “teachers” for “accountants,” you are made to be a heretic in many public education circles?  If an accountant messes with someone’s money, we have no problem suggesting he move onto another venture in life, but if a teacher negatively affects the education of youth, we can’t bring ourselves to utter the words?  For, it is true what they say about teachers, they change lives.  The magnitude and direction of this change depends on the attitude and capabilities of the individual at the front of the room.   With the end of this school year upon us, every school faces a decision of whether or not to honestly evaluate these individuals, and ultimately affect the lives of children.

With polarized debates in rare form for campaign 2012, the intensity of education discussions has grown.  If you call for the firing of teachers, you are anti-union and hate public education.  If you are in the teachers’ union, you must support all teachers and proclaim that charter schools are a disgrace to America’s well-being.  As usual, people try to separate others into various categories within the debate while many citizens simply align themselves to these categories because they think it matches up with another set of personal beliefs (political, religious, etc). Too often we speak our own mind, reinforcing our own beliefs, but never stop to listen long enough to hear a reasonable idea anyone else may offer.

LIke many big ticket issues, the truth to the firing of teachers lies somewhere in the middle.  Is there a heavy relationship component to education? Yes.  Do test scores show a complete picture of a teacher’s influence? No.  Are all teachers the greatest? No.  Are all teachers lazy and love summers off? No. Should bad teachers get a chance to improve before being let go? Depends on how bad their classroom is. The fact of the matter through all of these questions is that we need to produce the best educational system possible for our children.  If skilled administrators (another issue for another day) are not evaluating the level of instruction in our classrooms on a consistent basis, and are not able to dismiss a teacher after chances to improve, how can we ever provide the next generation with the education necessary to carry us through the 21st Century?  The answer is, we can’t.  Therefore, it should never be considered anti-public educator to say so.  Rather, it should be considered pro-public education.  Teachers (public, private, charter, moon school, whatever) who sincerely work hard to consistently provide the highest level of instruction for their students should be praised and recognized as much as anyone in our society. Those that are not, or just don’t seem to have “it? Plain and simple, bad teachers need to be fired.

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