In Los Angeles public schools, teachers who can’t teach can’t be fired, reports LA Weekly. “Perhaps 1,000 teachers, responsible for 30,000 children,” are ineffective in the classroom, the story estimates.
But the Weekly has found, in a five-month investigation, that principals and school district leaders have all but given up dismissing such teachers. In the past decade, LAUSD officials spent $3.5 million trying to fire just seven of the district’s 33,000 teachers for poor classroom performance — and only four were fired, during legal struggles that wore on, on average, for five years each. Two of the three others were paid large settlements, and one was reinstated. The average cost of each battle is $500,000.
The district paid an average of $50,000 apiece to get 32 ineffective teachers to leave. Others “are being continually recycled through a costly mentoring and retraining program but failing to improve,” reports the Weekly. Still more get poor evaluations again and again with no consequences.
Superintendent Ramon Cortines has vowed to make it harder for new teachers to get tenure. The district is firing 110 untenured teachers for poor performance, three times more than last year. But firing tenured teachers for poor performance would require a bitter fight with the teachers’ union.
By contrast, Houston will fire low-performing teachers who don’t improve after receiving additional training and mentoring. The district will analyze whether teachers helped students progress using a value-added analysis of test scores. Eduflack has more on Houston’s policy.