Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Student's take on the "Gotcha Squad"

In a recent New York Times article, Elissa Gootman states that the Bloomberg administration is beginning a drive to remove unsatisfactory teachers, hiring new teams of lawyers and consultants who will help principals build cases against tenured teachers who they believe are not up to the job. It is also urging principals to get rid of sub-par novices before they earn tenure

The controversy over this action stems from varying interpretations of the purpose of tenure. Tenure was created to allow teachers the freedom to research into any area and bring controversial ideas into the classroom. Ideally, it protects teachers from being fired for intellectual exploration that might lead them to unpopular conclusions.

This concept is very important. If teachers are constantly under the threat of removal, their creativity and autonomy as teachers will be lost. However, spending three years on probation as a teacher (the current requirement for receiving tenure) is not an appropriate way of determining whether or not a teacher can be easily fired or not. Instead, all teachers should have equal rights and protections. A system should be imposed which allows all teachers to be fired based on very strong evidence that they deserve it. I agree with the idea of a committee- made up of lawyers and also administrators from many schools- to determine whether or not a teacher should be fired in given circumstances. The reasons should be based on a failure to teach the basic concepts required for their course, and only after warnings and chances to rectify this. Also, a teacher should be fired for unlawful, inappropriate or dangerous behavior. If a teacher has a strong bias that actually keeps them from addressing all the content, that is the only reason why their personal opinions should be considered in whether or not they are allowed to teach.

Teachers deserve job security, but principals, with the approval of objective judges, should be able to remove any teacher that does not serve the best interest of the children.

1 comment:

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

This is a "smoke screen". If Principal's did their job to begin with the DOE wouldn't need a "Gotcha Squad". Bad teachers exist because Bad Principals let them exist.

A Principal, one who is a sadist, can make the working life of a teacher a living hell in the school.I have seen too many good or potentially good teachers driven out of the system without this 'gotcha squad". With this in place we will have a stronger Gastapo in place. Is what you want as teachers frightened sheep?