It’s time to talk honestly about bad teachers, writes Andrew Rotherham in Time. “Teachers are not to blame for all that ails our schools,” but firing “some percentage of low performers” would be good for students — and for other teachers.
Charges of “teacher bashing” squelch debate, he writes. Nobody wants to be seen as anti-teacher. Yet getting rid of bad teachers would benefit good (and average) teachers.
Over the long run, better pay, improved working conditions, better training and professional development, and greater respect is politically conditional on creating a professional culture more in line with other fields. Neither the public nor the political class will go for it otherwise. A focus on instructional quality would also help defuse the bubble of enthusiasm among those who now see technology as a cure-all.
Stanford economist Eric Hanushek predicts that removing even the lowest five percent of performers — one or two teachers per school — could “boost overall student achievement substantially.”
“How do we figure out which teachers should go?” Rotherham asks. He thinks teacher evaluations and value-added methods, though imperfect, are good enough to identify the bottom five percent. Our schools still would have plenty of problems, but it’s a start.
I think everyone concedes that there are some bad teachers, but the trust level in public education is very, very low. There are a lot of bad principals who teachers think don’t know Mr. Chips from Freddy Krueger.