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View Diary: Education Phrases that Should be Banished (203 comments)

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  •  Also, incompetent teachers are there for... (11+ / 0-)

    life. Tenure is protection for due process not protection of incompetence. Good administrators can and do remove teachers that are not doing the job. Maybe in higher educational institutions it is true about tenure but not in public school systems.

    Plato's " The Cave" taught me to question reality.

    by CTDemoFarmer on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 05:06:51 AM PDT

    •  Not in Higher Ed either (8+ / 0-)

      The college/U method is to promote a bad prof away.

      "Say, Don, we need your experience and expertise in the dean's office. We'd like you to be the vice dean of student space. It'll be a huge plum on your vita."

      Don: (hatethisplace idiots won't let me work on my sabbatical research on dinosaurs in medieval paintings) "I'm pretty committed to teaching, you know."

      "Sure, but it'll be serving the students, and we'll increase your pay by five HUNDRED dollars."

      Don: (get plane ticket, no work, no teaching the little jerks) "Well, alright."

      So, Don accepts the promotion. Once he becomes administration, guess what happens? He's not tenured. Even if he is, he signs a new contract with new duties and termination for failure to perform.

      Kingsley Amis and Evelyn Waugh had the system sussed out. The real barnacles attach themselves to a desk and won't move.

      Every reductio ad absurdum will seem like a good idea to some fool or another.

      by The Geogre on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 05:20:43 AM PDT

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      •  What you've described... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...only happens to dumb people at bad universities.  You'd have to be dumb to give up your tenure protection in exchange for an administrative position.

        Romney '12: Bully for America!

        by Rich in PA on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 05:39:23 AM PDT

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        •  Dumb? No: vain (7+ / 0-)

          Look, the one quality most often found in lousy profs is vanity. Laziness comes next, but lazy usually doesn't result in a bad professor.  

          A lazy professor opts out of the upper level classes, teaches the lower order stuff, gives all A's, doesn't read the papers. Such a person is easy to accept for most academic bodies, so long as she or he attends the class and provides the lecture from ten years ago.

          A bad professor is usually arbitrary, sometimes there and sometimes not, rioting in all the meeting, spreading gossip, telling the students about the finances, etc. That sort of person usually thinks that Those Fools need to honor her or him more. It's easiest to shunt such a person off to a corner than to worry about a tenure fight, and such people are shockingly willing to accept promotions.

          However, suppose you believe they're "dumb." The other way, and it has gotten rid of more tenured professors than anything else, is to look through the expense reimbursements through the years. I don't know why they do it, but it seems like quite a few like to get reimbursed twice or reimbursed when they're been paid to attend things. That violates tenure.

          Every reductio ad absurdum will seem like a good idea to some fool or another.

          by The Geogre on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 06:20:15 AM PDT

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      •  That only applies if you get tenure in the first (5+ / 0-)

        place. Tenure isn't bestowed on everyone.

    •  As an administrator, I couldn't agree more. (12+ / 0-)

      I have witnessed incompetent administrators attempt to get rid of excellent teachers because of personality or philosophical differences. That didn't happen - thanks to tenure ... and unions.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 05:31:01 AM PDT

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      •  In private school... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, slatsg, Lisa, JanL

        ...without tenure, it does happen. I taught in a private high school where seven of the strongest teachers (two had taught there over 30 years) did not get their contracts renewed over a two year span.

        Even more interesting is the fact that five of the seven were women and seven of the seven were not sports coaches.

        The main things they had in common were not being in the principal's inner circle of coaching buddies and having reputations for academic excellence in their classrooms.

    •  Then that would be a first in human history. (0+ / 0-)

      Tenure is meant to be due process protection, but in practice it is protection of incompetence.  These things happen all the time with administrative protections (i.e. they're meant for a noble thing but in practice end up doing something else), and it's self-serving dogmatism to claim it doesn't happen with tenure.

      Romney '12: Bully for America!

      by Rich in PA on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 05:40:57 AM PDT

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      •  Don't mistake the excuse for the actual reason (12+ / 0-)

        An administrator who cites tenure as the reason for why s/he isn't firing a teacher is an administrator who isn't going to fire the teacher anyway.  Tenure is just the convenient excuse.

        If an administrator is willing to follow the process, s/he absolutely can get a teacher fired for cause.  If the administrator is not bothering, then guess what, the adminstrator actually doesn't want to fire the teacher.  It could be for any number of reasons - maybe the administrator doesn't like firing people, maybe the administrator doesn't feel the teacher should be fired, maybe the teacher is a close friend or ally.  None of these reasons have anything to do with tenure.

        It's no different in a major corporation.  I'm a mid-level manager, and I can't fire anyone who reports to me for cause unless I go through the process of documentation and escalating warnings.  That's as it should be, since a lot of employees will improve if given fair notice and guidance on how they can improve.

        A manager who is citing the process as a reason for why an employee is not out is a manager who doesn't want to fire the employee anyway.  Whether we're talking about tenure or the HR-guided procedures of major corporations, citing the process is just an excuse for managers to hide behind.

        •  The one caveat is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          that it varies a bit from state to state and district to district how difficult it is. Large districts seem to have a harder problem removing people than smaller ones.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 09:19:49 AM PDT

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    •  You know what makes me mad about this? (15+ / 0-)

      People have no idea how many of my teaching colleagues wash themselves out. The average career for a music teacher is shorter than the time it takes to get the degree. The people that suck at it or can't handle the long hours and low pay remove themselves anyway. Teaching is very difficult for most people.

      •  It is definitely hard work! (8+ / 0-)

        I just finished my 36th year as a public school music teacher.  I see 22 different classes and about 600 different kids each week--knowing every single one of them by name.  The older I get, the more important I see my job and I simply can't imagine ever doing anything else!

        “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

        by musiclady on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 07:36:43 AM PDT

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    •  The "incompetent teacher' meme (12+ / 0-)

      is just antiunion bullshit. Schools can and do fire teachers for whatever reason.
        The teachers are not the problem with education. And, frankly, the idea that there is something inherently wrong with our education system is dubious.

    •  Not sure you're correct. (0+ / 0-)

      I know someone who works in a school district, and she says incompetent teachers are nearly impossible to fire.  It's effectively life tenure.

      The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

      by TheOrchid on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 09:19:12 AM PDT

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      •  Your acquaintance is incorrect (6+ / 0-)

        It is not a simple process, nor should it be.

        People shouldn't be fired for trivial reasons or because one person finds them to be a poor teacher. Keep in mind that what constitutes teaching excellence is open to debate.

        A good administrator can either create a climate where the teacher will improve or can follow the necessary procedures to remove a teacher is incompetent.

        A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

        by slatsg on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 10:19:52 AM PDT

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        •  I trust my acquaintance. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It's not just their opinion; other teachers acknowledge that a couple of the teachers in the school district are dead weight; even parents know about these two.  But the administrative procedures to fire them are too onerous to pursue.  This is California, by the way, where school funding cuts have been brutal; the school administrators, among other things, simply don't have the time or staff to get rid of them.  Ergo, effectively life tenure.  This can't be the only school district where this is happening.

          The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

          by TheOrchid on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 01:01:41 PM PDT

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    •  A tale of two science teachers (6+ / 0-)
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      Lisa, slatsg, wasatch, peregrine kate, JanL, kyril

      These are actual people I work with.

      A -- an expert in his subject matter, takes some kind of continuing education every summer at his own expense, has extremely high expectations for his students, has students doing hand-on activities almost every day. He is also a little irascible, has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and says just what he thinks in faculty meetings often angrily.

      B -- smooth as silk, always says exactly what the admins want to hear, hasn't learned anything new in 30 years.  The students I get from him don't know anything and I have been told over and over that all he does is put a seatwork assignment on the board.  All the work is chapter review MC and he doesn't even grade it himself; he has student assistants.

      Guess which one is in good odor with the administration and guess which one would be fired if it weren't for tenure?

      This is not the exception.  This is the rule.

      Light is seen through a small hole.

      by houyhnhnm on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 12:00:22 PM PDT

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