The Dispatch should read its own paper

In an Op-ed today titled "Don't miss the chance" - the Disptach doesn't miss a chance to take yet another swipe at teachers. As usual, it is deeply uninformed and filled with the common corporate reform message

Kasich and the House have proposed merit-based systems for evaluating and rewarding teachers, but the Senate declined to include any merit-based system. A system that evaluates teacher effectiveness and uses such evaluations to determine staffing, layoffs and pay is vital reform. The current system rewards teachers for seniority, tying administrators' hands when it comes to staffing and pay decisions. The recent example of the Pickerington Local School District shows the problem with this: Of the 14 "teacher of the year" winners for 2010-11 in the district, five are losing their jobs in a round of layoffs that will hit 120 teachers. This is a system that punishes outstanding teachers and the students who will be deprived of their services. Development of merit-based systems already is part of Ohio's federally sponsored Race to the Top education-reform program, which includes 300 Ohio school districts. It should be made the policy of the entire state.

Perhaps the editors and publisher of the Dispatch should read their own paper, just once in a while, because yesterday was one of the best pieces written on this merit pay subject in a long, long time.

First, very few teachers have tenure, where they may be fired only for cause. Most teachers serve on a yearly basis, and for those, it is as simple as the superintendent not recommending a teacher for renewal by April 30. Voila, that teacher is gone. No cause needed. For teachers who have continuing contracts, it is within management's authority and control to determine whether the teacher is performing adequately. No union contract prohibits a teacher from being fired for cause. Among other things, principals can observe teachers and make recommendations, but it is generally easier to ignore problem teachers.

From a human-resources perspective, there are T's to cross and I's to dot and paperwork to process to get rid of a teacher. Then there's the process to interview and hire a new teacher. Those are bureaucratic problems, not teacher problems. The so-called bad teachers often continue to teach because management does not want to make the effort to get rid of them.

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