I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Our Failed Education Discourse

B4K ad:

Still, most agreed that the small numbers of tenure charges filed with the state are really only a fraction of the cases of low-performing teachers for whom the formal filing is a last resort, a vast majority of them eased out of the classroom as the complaints mount.
'You don’t see these statistics, but I would say that hundreds of teachers who receive the first tenure charges resign,” said Eugene Liss, general counsel to the Newark Teachers Union. "Maybe the case didn’t go all the way to Trenton, but many who sit with us, they end up leaving the profession."
Newark has a system in which teachers receiving unsatisfactory ratings are required to undergo additional training through Seton Hall University. Last year, it was 90 teachers, all but 12 of whom returned to the classroom, he said. Those 12 all resigned, none by tenure charges. [emphasis mine]
Add to this the fact that 40% of new teachers never earn tenure after the standard three years, and you can see that this ad is a steaming load of dung.

Oh, and it's 113k teachers. But I have to admit: 13% is a better error rate than using test scores to evaluate teachers (35% error rate).

[Yeah, alright, it's not 13%, it's 12.5%. Gimme a break...]


Anonymous said...

That 40% is basically a worthless statistic, if you're trying to suggest that the school system is exercising any sort of quality control. From your own article:

"It does not include the reasons that teachers did not achieve tenure. Some may have moved, or decided to leave teaching on their own."

OK, so we don't know why any of these teachers didn't get tenure within 3 years. Maybe they moved, maybe they switched jobs within the school system, maybe they got a job in a different career, maybe they took time off to have kids.

Why are we supposed to be impressed by that 40% figure then?

Duke said...

Hey, if you're arguing we need more study on this, fine. But I don't think you'll get an answer that helps you very much.

Let's live in the real world a bit, shall we? Are you telling me that there is not a significant number of that 40% who were not counseled out of the job? Really?

I've seen it with my own eyes. That's the advantage of my perspective - I know for a fact some of those left because they were counseled out.

Again - I know you're not an education professional because you say:

"maybe they switched jobs within the school system"

That wouldn't have reset their tenure, dude. Switching between systems does that, not within.

An attrition rate that high for a profession that has a relatively high barrier-to-entry is a good sign that there is significant self-policing. Occam's Razor.

BTW, glad you're here. Unlike B4K, I don't mind dissent. Link to whatever you like. Can't guarantee I'll have to time to answer every comment, but you're free to post.

Maybe someone can ask Derrell why he doesn't follow the same standard.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they might have switched to a job to which tenure does not apply, that is.

Duke said...

You mean a teacher becoming a principal (they have tenure, but it resets)?

You think that happens MORE frequently than "bad" teachers being let go? When you have one principal per school?

Occam's Razor, my friend...

Anonymous said...

Principals are the only jobs where there's no tenure? OK, then.

Anonymous said...

Waiting to see some meaningful data from this detractor, Duke. Like you said, unlike B4K, you actually welcome dissent.

Anonymous said...

I don't have data on the 40% of teachers who supposedly don't get tenure, because NO ONE has data. So it's bull**** for that 40% figure to be put forth as a response to any claims about how easy it is to get tenure or how hard it is to get fired.

Duke said...

Did I make the claims here about how easy it is to get tenure or how hard it is to get fired? Please, show me where.

If you've read the blog, you know I'm for REAL tenure reform. The process is way too long and way too costly. 90 cap on hearings and appeals, dedicated administrative judges, clear rules on admissible evidence so administrators know what to collect.

See, I'm a teacher, and I do not want to work with bad colleagues. My fellow teachers feel the same way. Also, the unions want this because it will save them money: faster hearings means less $ spent defending bad teachers, and more money for them to spend on snacks at meetings (that's a joke, btw...).

I think my point in this post, however, was crystal clear: B4K says "Only 17 [teachers] fired for ineffectiveness in 10 years."

Yet the general counsel for AFT in Newark says hundreds who receive tenure charges resign without going through the process - essentially, they are "fired," unless you want to play semantic games.

In addition, 40% of teachers who should get tenure after their three years do not. Are all 40% "fired"? Of course not, but it is reasonable to assume many did not have their yearly contracts removed because they were ineffective, or they came to the realization that they should not teach.

I would very much like to know the circumstances under which they did not return, but that may be impossible to know. I'd like to see a serious, PEER REVIEWED study on the matter. Until then, I think it is reasonable to conjecture that a sizable number were not renewed do to ineffectiveness. I base that on the experiences of my career and common sense. Perhaps my fellow teachers reading this would care to comment.

On the basis of these two points, I conclude B4K is giving a deceptive measure of teacher turnover and accountability. Many more teachers were effectively "fired" over the past 10 years than 17.

Thus: a steaming pile of dung.

Now, the readers of this blog can judge the relevance of the 40% figure themselves. You obvious see it as irrelevant - fine. I think your counterargument is very weak, but that's the nature of debate: our readers can make their own determinations.

But I've not seen you make any substantial reply to Liss's statement. Is he full of bull**** as well?

Anonymous said...

"Yet the general counsel for AFT in Newark says hundreds who receive tenure charges resign without going through the process"

And every defense lawyer swears that his client is innocent. That's what lawyers are paid to do: exaggerate and spin. Let's see some independent evidence for his claim.

Duke said...

Funny, I thought defense lawyers were paid to see that clients get representation at a fair trial.

And I thought I was a cynic...