You Can’t Fire Bad Teachers- Thank You LA Unified School District

This is the kind of article that should have parents up in arms, assuming that it is factual and accurate. Just reading the lead irks me more than I can tell you. Read the story and you’ll see.

A Times investigation finds the process so arduous that many principals don’t even try, except in the very worst cases. Jettisoning a teacher solely because he or she can’t teach is rare.

Let’s take a few minutes to review some more of this:

It’s remarkably difficult to fire a tenured public school teacher in California, a Times investigation has found.

The path can be laborious and labyrinthine, in some cases involving years of investigation, union grievances, administrative appeals, court challenges and re-hearings.Not only is the process arduous, but some districts are particularly unsuccessful in navigating its complexities. The Los Angeles Unified School District sees the majority of its appealed dismissals overturned, and its administrators are far less likely even to try firing a tenured teacher than those in other districts.

The Times reviewed every case on record in the last 15 years in which a tenured employee was fired by a California school district and formally contested the decision before a review commission: 159 in all (not including about two dozen in which the records were destroyed). The newspaper also examined court and school district records and interviewed scores of people, including principals, teachers, union officials, district administrators, parents and students.

Among the findings:

* Building a case for dismissal is so time-consuming, costly and draining for principals and administrators that many say they don’t make the effort except in the most egregious cases. The vast majority of firings stem from blatant misconduct, including sexual abuse, other immoral or illegal behavior, insubordination or repeated violation of rules such as showing up on time.

* Although districts generally press ahead with only the strongest cases, even these get knocked down more than a third of the time by the specially convened review panels, which have the discretion to restore teachers’ jobs even when grounds for dismissal are proved.

* Jettisoning a teacher solely because he or she can’t teach is rare. In 80% of the dismissals that were upheld, classroom performance was not even a factor.

When teaching is at issue, years of effort — and thousands of dollars — sometimes go into rehabilitating the teacher as students suffer. Over the three years before he was fired, one struggling math teacher in Stockton was observed 13 times by school officials, failed three year-end evaluations, was offered a more desirable assignment and joined a mentoring program as most of his ninth-grade students flunked his courses.

As a case winds its way through the system, legal costs can soar into the six figures.

Meanwhile, said Kendra Wallace, principal of Daniel Webster Middle School on Los Angeles’ Westside, an ineffective teacher can instruct 125 to 260 students a year — up to 1,300 in the five years she says it often takes to remove a tenured employee.

It is incredible and not in a good way.

L.A. Unified officials have struggled with the system more than most.

Of the 15 tenured employees on record as fighting their terminations before review commissions in the last decade and a half, nine won their jobs back.

The main reasons: Commissions did not find the district’s evidence damning or persuasive enough.

The district wanted to fire a high school teacher who kept a stash of pornography, marijuana and vials with cocaine residue at school, but a commission balked, suggesting that firing was too harsh. L.A. Unified officials were also unsuccessful in firing a male middle school teacher spotted lying on top of a female colleague in the metal shop, saying the district did not prove that the two were having sex.

The district fared no better in its case against elementary school special education teacher Gloria Hsi, despite allegations that included poor judgment, failing to report child abuse, yelling at and insulting children, planning lessons inadequately and failing to supervise her class.

Not a single charge was upheld. The commission found the school’s evaluators were unqualified because they did not have special education training. Moreover, it said they went to the class at especially difficult periods and didn’t stay long enough.

Four years after the district began trying to fire Hsi, the case is still tied up in court, although she has been removed from the classroom. Her lawyer declined to comment on her behalf. The district’s legal costs so far: $110,000.

Sometimes the strength of a union can be detrimental. Membership in a union should not provide blanket protection without care or concern for the actions of union members.

Over the years I have heard many stories from friends who are teachers or otherwise employed in the district. There have been plenty of stories that are positive and make you feel good, but there are far too many that make you cringe.

Teachers are exceptionally influential. I have long argued that they should be paid more because their work is invaluable. But at the same time a bad teacher is incredibly dangerous too. It is very serious problem and we need to take action to improve things.

Is Florida Gov. Charlie Crist Really That Ignorant

It appears that Governor of Florida Charlie Crist is in need of some help. Someone came up with the cockamamie idea to offer religious themed license plates in Florida. The governor says that he doesn’t see any issues with the separation of church and state. His argument is quite weak. I am not in favor of blurring the lines in this matter. The First Amendment is very clear.

It is to all of our benefit and advantage not to engage in this sort of political tomfoolery.

Hat Tip: DB

The Speech Nixon Never Had to Give

This July marks the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. Had tragedy struck President Nixon would have had to address the nation. This article discusses the speech that he would have given. It was entitled In the event of Moon disaster.

If Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin had been stranded on the Moon, unable to return to Michael Collins’s orbiting Apollo 11 command ship, Nixon would have called their widows then addressed a horror-struck nation.

“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the Moon to explore in peace will stay on the Moon to rest in peace,” he would have told the watching millions.

These brave men know there is no hope for their recovery but they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

“These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

“They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

“In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.”

The President would have added: “In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood. Others will follow and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied but these men were the first and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.”

And in an allusion to Rupert Brooke’s First World War poem The Soldier, his concluding lines were to be: “For every human being who looks up at the Moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”

Sarkozy Calls Obama Weak

This isn’t really the sort of response we want Obama to receive from other world leaders. OTOH, France hasn’t really been a significant world power for far longer than they care to admit. Take the criticism for what it is worth.

The US President is weak, the Spanish leader is dim, the German Chancellor is clinging on to France’s coat-tails and the head of the European Commission is irrelevant.

That, at any rate, is the world according to President Sarkozy, who has spent the week airing his unvarnished opinions of Barack Obama and an array of international politicians — abruptly ending France’s honeymoon with the US and needling Washington on several strategic issues.

In the latest in a stream of accounts from the Élysée Palace, Mr Sarkozy was quoted yesterday as telling an all-party group of MPs that Mr Obama was inexperienced and indecisive. “Obama has a subtle mind, very clever and very charismatic,” the French President said. “But he was elected two months ago and had never run a ministry. There are a certain number of things on which he has no position. And he is not always up to standard on decision-making and efficiency.”

The US President had underperformed on climate change when they met, Mr Sarkozy said, according to an account of the MP’s session in the newspaper Libération. “I told him, ‘I don’t think that you have quite understood what we are doing on carbon dioxide’.”Mr Sarkozy was apparently irked by media reports that Mr Obama had saved the day in London by persuading President Hu of China to reach a compromise with France over tax havens. Mr Sarkozy’s version is that he shamed Mr Obama into action, telling him: “You were elected to build a new world. Tax havens are the embodiment of the old world.”

Taxday Tea Party Protest

Is it just coincidence that as I began to write this post Fortunate Son started playing on iTunes. It fits my mood because I am angry at the finger pointers from both parties.

Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooh, they’re red, white and blue.
And when the band plays hail to the chief,
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, lord,

It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senators son, son.
It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, no,

Yeah!
Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,
Lord, dont they help themselves, oh.
But when the taxman comes to the door,
Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes,

I have a long list of things that make me angry. I am angry about government waste. I am angry about the bailout, but let me be clear about my anger. I am angry at all parties. I am angry about the deregulation and lack of oversight that led to this place. I am angry about the cost of covering the huge mistakes and mismanagement of others.

I am angry about the idiotic remarks of those who take advantage of the rights/privileges they are afforded by living here and do not give back. I am angry because the finger pointers waste my time, my energy and my tax dollars by spewing out rhetoric about how bad the other side is.

Listen you ignorant monkeys, you are part of something bigger and greater than yourself. We pay taxes because it provides a government that helps to see that we have a functional infrastructure.

It pays for the roads that are used by truck drivers to deliver food to the groceries stores.
It pays for research for science that is used to find cures for cancer, for Parkinsons and other terminal illnesses.
It pays for a military that protects us from those who would harm us, be they pirates or others.
It pays so that our children can receive an education.

Damn, it wears me out reading so much garbage across the net. The blithering idiots who tell us that socialism is bad. Do you even understand what it is. Do you know what you are talking about or are you just repeating the crap that someone else spoon fed you.

The buffoons who are naive enough to believe that all people will be nice. George Will provides a good example in his latest column in Newsweek.

“The current president’s U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, was on Sunday television recently explaining why she thinks Iran, now several decades into its pursuit of nuclear weapons and close to consummation, might succumb to the siren song of sweet reason and retreat from success. Doing so, she said, would enable Iran “to be a responsible member of the international community”—perhaps not the highest priority for a regime that denies the Holocaust happened, and vows to complete it—and “enter the community of nations.” Otherwise Iran will face “the full force of the international community.”

Rice really thinks there is a community out there. To believe that is to believe, as liberals do, that harmony is humanity’s natural condition, so discord is a remediable defect in arrangements.”

I became an independent because I grew disenchanted with the labels and the “restrictions” that came with them. My issue is not with liberals or conservatives. My issue is with those that are so partisan they are unable to work with the other side. Their sole goal is to do whatever they can to thwart the other.

That is detrimental to all of us. So you’ll understand if I am less than enamored by the tea party protests. All that noise, we’ll see if they actually manage to do more than shout out cute slogans.