Thursday, May 07, 2009

What do you do with a teacher who can't teach?

If you're the Los Angeles Unified School District. you pay him not to teach! From the Los Angeles Times : "For seven years, the Los Angeles Unified School District has paid Matthew Kim a teaching salary of up to $68,000 per year, plus benefits.His job is to do nothing.
Every school day, Kim's shift begins at 7:50 a.m., with 30 minutes for lunch, and ends when the bell at his old campus rings at 3:20 p.m. He is to take off all breaks, school vacations and holidays, per a district agreement with the teacher's union. At no time is he to be given any work by the district or show up at school. He has never missed a paycheck."

He is under review after complaints to judge his fitness to teach. Seven years of review, and still counting. Surely an anomaly, right? "About 160 teachers and other staff sit idly in buildings scattered around the sprawling district, waiting for allegations of misconduct to be resolved.The housed are accused, among other things, of sexual contact with students, harassment, theft or drug possession. Nearly all are being paid. All told, they collect about $10 million in salaries per year -- even as the district is contemplating widespread layoffs of teachers because of a financial shortfall."

But of course, that's just California, La La Land. Nobody else would sign a union contract making it so hard to do anything about bad teachers... or would they? "In New York City public schools, which make up the country's largest district, teachers are confined to "rubber rooms." About 550 of the district's 80,000 teachers spend school hours "literally just doing crossword puzzles, waiting for the end of the day" until their cases are resolved, spokeswoman Ann Forte said. Some have been there for years."

One might think that if you're contractually forbidden to given them non-teaching related work, maybe you could assign them to just grading tests and homework without having contact with the children. Not in Plano, Texas... "Plano school officials are exploring a policy for middle schoolers that would not dock grades for cheating or late assignments. And teachers wouldn't grade some homework at all.", says The Dallas Morning News .

The teachers themselves know what the solution to all this is: "In Philadelphia, 44 percent of the teachers put their children in private schools; in Cincinnati, 41 percent; Chicago, 39 percent; Rochester, N.Y., 38 percent. The same trends showed up in the San Francisco-Oakland area, where 34 percent of public school teachers chose private schools for their children; 33 percent in New York City and New Jersey suburbs; and 29 percent in Milwaukee and New Orleans.", according to The Washington Times . Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could afford to do that? There's not a state in the union that doesn't spend enough per student to give them a top-flight private education, if the dollars followed the students. But that's not how it's done- we spend the money on school systems, not school children. Of course, our system guarantees a two tier educational system- one for the ruling class, and one for the ruled. But hey, Matthew Kim's not complaining.


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