If you read a lot of corporate education reform "studies" as we do, there's one common theme running through most of them. Much like Mitt Romney, they would really like to fire people, teachers specifically.
The rate at which they want to fire teachers varies, some only want to fire 1 in 20, others would really prefer to fire 1 in 5. The Governor himself would like nothing more than to fire some teachers too (though taking his axe to the states education budget is already doing the heavy lifting)
"We pay good teachers more, but I'm going to suggest that we hold all teachers accountable. Teachers who can't teach shouldn't be in the classroom. ... If we've got teachers who can't do the job there's no excuse for leaving them in the classroom."
The latest round of this fad came in a much ballyhooed study, with front page New York Times treatment.
After a discussion on the costs of keeping a minimally effective teacher, one of the authors, John N. Friedman, remarks, “the message is to fire people sooner rather than later.” His co-author, Raj Chetty, goes further: “Of course there are going to be mistakes—teachers who get fired who do not deserve to get fired.”
That's an uncharacteristic moment of truth. In the desire to fire lots of teachers using unproven data models and evaluation rubrics, there's going to be some collateral damage. Sure you may have spent tens of thousands of dollars, and years of your life earning your degrees so you can pursue your passion, but if some secret proprietary data model says you've got to go, well, them's the breaks, and besides, there's always some
casino dealer TFA recruit with 5 weeks of training to ride to the rescue on their white horse.
Nobody want's to see chronically bad teachers in the classroom, but why don't these corporate backed studies and reforms first turn to employing policies to improve struggling teachers abilities, instead of immediately reaching for the ejector cord? Where are the think tank studies on what an effective intervention program would look like? Where's the money for professional development? The Governor, in his own words says he wants to pay good teachers more, when is that going to happen? It's all stick and no carrot.
That's a big important question. It's also a question we have an answer to. Michelle Rhee's legacy of firing "ineffective teachers" is now in plain view, and the view isn't pretty
Policies the describe the need to fire lots of people will have a significant, negative, first order effect on the entire workforce. In the end, perhaps like Mitt Romney, those proposing such solutions just like to fire people.