Poll: Fire teachers if they don’t perform

Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In the business world, performance and results are the benchmarks used to determine success … and in many cases, employment.

In the world of education, it’s not always the case.

According to a recent survey, the majority of Americans want that changed. The Associated Press-Stanford University poll found that 78 percent of those polled think it should be easier to fire poorly performing teachers. That’s a resounding statement, but not a surprising one.

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With teachers’ tasked with the critical responsibility of educating tomorow’s leaders, we have struggled on national, state and local levels to determine just how to judge performance and success. Standardized test scores are most of often the measure used, but they are should not be the only measurement. And, more often than not, the scores reflect a school’s performance, not a particular teacher’s.

What parents, and we suspect many administrators, want is a way to have real accountability in the classrooms: to reward successful teachers with higher pay (the poll says 57 percent of Americans believe teachers are underpaid) and the ability to remove poorly performing teachers, whether they are tenured or not.

The performance-based model has been an effective one in private enterprise for centuries. And even though the Obama administration continues to throw money at the school systems – with programs like the $4 billion Race to the Top, which benefits Washington, D.C. and 11 other states – funding isn’t the panacea.

Accountability is. And we need to find a way to put it into America’s classrooms.