For the children? Nope

The new substitute-teacher policy in Darren’s district is good for laid-off teachers, who’d get first dibs on substitute assignments. But it’s bad for his high school math students, he writes.

None of the laid-off teachers are math teachers.

So if a math teacher calls in sick, he or she cannot request a math teacher (or, in my case, cannot contact an awesome retired math teacher) as a substitute.  Instead we get whatever laid off teacher is next “on the list.”  If I were to call in sick, I’d get a laid off third grade teacher–who probably isn’t capable of teaching trigonometry or statistics.  In other words, I’d get a babysitter, and my students wouldn’t get any instruction that day.

And my district and local union agreed to this.

The teachers’ union always claims “education first” and “children are our special interest,” Darren writes. The district’s job is to educate students. But they couldn’t be bothered to write in a stipulation that the first qualified teacher on the sub list would get the job.

AFT: Reform teacher evaluation, firing

It’s time to change how teachers are evaluated and dismissed, says Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. The union chief’s plan would give    tenured teachers who are rated unsatisfactory by their principals a maximum of one school year to improve, reports the New York Times.

Weingarten proposed evaluating teachers based on classroom visits, appraisal of lesson plans and student improvement on tests.

Teachers rated unsatisfactory would be given a detailed “improvement plan” jointly devised by school administrators and experienced master teachers.

Some improvement plans — like maintaining better classroom order — could last a month. Others would take a full school year. The results would be considered separately by administrators and the peer experts, whose judgments would be sent to a neutral arbitrator.

The arbitrator would be required to decide within 100 days whether to keep or fire the teacher.

Compared to the current system, this is lightning fast, though Fordham’s Michael Petrilli isn’t impressed. “In any other field, this would be considered completely nuts that a manager would not have rights and responsibilities to evaluate their employees and take action,”  he told the Times.

Reform doesn’t require dumping collective bargaining, writes Andrew Rotherham in Time. But some things have to change, including: restrictions on teacher evaluations; “last in, first out” lay-offs; forced transfers and “bumping” by senior teachers; tenure and due-process rules, and inflexible salary schedules that reward teachers only for length of service and academic credits.