Saturday, February 18, 2006

Thought Experiment No. 3

The teachers unions are given to paeans to the teaching profession. I'm sympathetic. Its an important job. In fact, wouldn't the unions agree that the most important factor in quality education is the quality of teachers? This is presumably why it is not scandalous that something like 87% of MPS' budget goes to salaries and benefits.

So ensuring teacher quality. Nothing is more important.

Now, in every other endeavor in life in which the quality of a professional is important, we do two things. One, we pay those who are good more than those who are merely adequate. Two, we fire those who are no longer performing.

When it comes to teachers, we do neither of these things. (Don't start with MPS' TEAM program. Based on its own numbers, its a joke.)So isn't the most critical educational reform an end to teacher tenure and the introduction of merit pay? In fact, why would we commit any additional resources to education (an enterprise which has seen, over the past 40 years or so, an enormous increase in resources and a significant decline in accomplishment) until this vital reform is secured.

6 comments:

elliot said...

It amazes me that incentives for good work and consequences for bad should even be up for discussion.

Jay Bullock said...

Milwaukee Public Schools does not offer teachers tenure. Period. So please stop talking as if they do.

Other districts do offer tenure, and that can be looked at.

I like MPS's system, in which teachers are evaluated regularly (annually for the first five years, and every three years after that, or more often at the administrator's discretion), and administrators have the capacity--seldom used--to remove bad teachers.

Tell me about your merit pay plan, Rick.

jp said...

Thanks for adding a new word (paeans) to my vocabulary. My answer to your question regarding merit pay is definitely YES.

jp said...

Jay Bullock.

You sound like a person under the influence of a teacher.

Rick Esenberg said...

Jp - At least I accomplished something this weekend.

Jay - Whether you call it tenure or not, it is virtually impossible to fire a teacher for something other than obvious misconduct (and even that can be tough.) You know it, I know it and the American people know it. (Who said that?)In case you don't know (but I think you do), here's how it works in the real world. BOSS: "You're fired." EMPLOYEE: "I'll pack my stuff." No due process; no hearings; no need to prove cause. That's how it works when the interests of the enterprise are put ahead of the interests of its employees.

jp said...

More on the subject.

I was shocked to read what a local manufacturer had to say about our education system (Journal Business section 7-24-05). "Most people who graduate from the local tech schools aren't able to pass our test even though they consider themselves as certified welders." I think the students should ask for a refund. If taxpayer supported schools are involved, we deserve a refund too.

A close personal friend of mine (Catholic school principal) battled for 2 years to have a teacher fired.