Friday, February 24, 2006

Shark and Shepherd on dead tree

My Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel column is up.


Anonymous said...

It's not a bad idea, Rick, but it will almost certainly cost us more money. Right now we pay teachers in part with job security. If we take that away, we will have to increase salaries to attract the quality teachers you want to do a better job in the classroom. That means higher taxes. This is basic economics.

I'm a tenured professor and would gladly give up the entire tenure system because it costs me money and job mobility. Without the offer of job security universities would have to pay professors significantly more to get them to undertake the time-consuming training of becoming experts in medieval French poetry or theoretical physics or whatever.

More acountability is a good idea, but it won't be costless. Will taxpayers be willing to shell out more to teachers if there is a way to get rid of the slackers? I have my doubts, especially if it turns out that teachers are not "the most important variable in determining educational success." I think parents matter more than teachers.

Jay Bullock said...

If administrators don't use the tools available to them now to help or remove bad teachers, what's to say they would once teachers become "at-will" employees?

Anonymous said...

"Right now we pay teachers in part with job security. "

Load of crap.

There's no tenure that I know of at private schools and the pay scale is lower than public schools yet they do a better job on average.

Anonymous said...

According to elliot's logic, if we paid public teachers less and fired them at will, the quality of public instruction would go up. Talk about a load of crap.

Private schools do better, not because the teachers are better, but because the parents are. I'm all in favor of vouchers and private schools, but let's not fool ourselves about what makes them work and MPS fail.

Rick lives in Mequon, and the public teachers in Mequon have job security. No one says says the Mequon schools are lousy. Why? Because Mequon families produce educable kids. Many Milwaukee families do not, and firing teachers isn't going to change that.

Rick Esenberg said...


I doubt that's true. I don't think tenure is a trade-off for salary; rather its an artifact of unionization. I don't think it can be compared with tenure at universities, a largely non-unionized environment, where the rationale for it has been academic freedom; something that is either inapplicable or very attenuated in the elementary and secondary education environment.

Elliot's observation is support for that.

Jay is an MTEA member who, to his credit, can't endorse the Lake Woebegone approach to teaching. My guess is that he would have nothing to worry about. But if it makes you feel better, I think the same rule should apply to administrators that applies to teachers. Countenance incompetence and you may be the first out the door.

Rick Esenberg said...

As for Zesty, I think Mequon should have the same rule.

Anonymous said...


It would be our responsibility to remove bad administrators if they did not remove bad at-will teachers.

Anonymous said...

How can any reasonable person dispute your argument. However, I believe the root problem is sending our teachers children who are not ready to be educated. This must be fixed before almost anything else will work. This is where our dollars will yield the greatest return. Almost everyone agrees past government programs have failed and It is time for a different approach