Recommended reading. Written by Sabrina Steven Schupe for her blog. Read the entire post here.
“Late last week, news broke that 75 probationary (non-”tenured”) teachers who were improperly fired under then-DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee would be re-instated. …
But in earlier news coverage on the local Fox affiliate, several of those teachers said they were completely taken by surprise by their dismissals, having previously received only positive evaluations about their job performance. Apparently, the information used against them was never brought to their attention until after the legal proceedings had begun, when the 75 teachers in question argued that they had never been poorly evaluated or told why they were being fired, and challenged the district’s failure to give a reason for their dismissal.
Truthfully, there are lots of reasons why a principal would move to dismiss a teacher, some of which have absolutely nothing to do with their fitness to teach. Rather than finding and documenting problems that would establish just cause for termination, school and district leaders have moved to terminate teachers just ’cause they felt like hiring a friend or relative; just ’cause the teacher refused to change an athlete’s failing grade; just ’cause they blew the whistle about cheating on high-stakes tests; just ’cause the teacher is gay; or just ’cause they reported a principal for harassing them or their colleagues.
When teachers have “tenure”– which is not a lifetime job, but simply a system of due process– districts are required to prove that a teacher was incompetent or otherwise unfit for the job in order to fire them. But for probationary teachers, principals and districts don’t have to prove anything at all. …
… [W]ho wins when any teacher can be fired just ’cause?
- Not students, who lose talented teachers who care enough to advocate for their best interests.
- Not communities, who lose teachers with long ties to neighborhoods and families (which any good teacher can tell you is invaluable, especially in high-need districts like Denver or DCPS).
- Not taxpayers, whose money should go to classrooms, but will instead be spent on recruitment and retraining costs, or on legal actions like these.
- Not the teaching profession, which will continue to struggle with startling turnover rates and an increasing inability to attract talented professionals. After all, the kind of people we want in classrooms won’t tolerate disrespectful, capricious treatment– they can do other things with their time and talent.
Truly, the only winners here are political figures like Rhee, who will cite high numbers of dismissals as evidence that they’re “doing something about failing schools” without actually improving anything, and ideologues who reflexively hate teachers’ unions so much that they’re even willing to sacrifice educational quality in order to starve the unions of dues-paying members.”
Posted: 3:28PM, September 28, 2011