Thursday, March 03, 2011

It's a long and winding road...

... that public school administrators must take to get rid of a bad teacher. In a previous post I mentioned job security as a benefit of public employ, one that all in the private sector envy. To illustrate my point, the Chicago Tribune ran a story entitled Why Bad Teachers Survive It has a flowchart, with timeline, of what's required to fire a tenured teacher. The process takes 27 separate steps and not less than two years, but can run as long as five years- during which the teacher is still being paid with full benefits.

Think that's bad? It's only average- look at the flowchart for firing a teacher in New York that one of the Tribune commenters posted- it covers two full pages. But in real life, I'm told, it never goes that far. Unless the teacher has made it easy by committing a class A felony, they usually just find a way to live with the bad apple, whatever it takes. If they really, really want the teacher gone, they offer a cash buyout* instead.

Now how does one account for that level of job security when comparing private and public sector wages? What's the cash equivalent of tenure? In the private sector, one would give up a lot to have those kinds of protections. In most states, absent gender or racial discrimination, the firing process is just one step- the one trademarked by Donald Trump. The appeals process consists of saying, "Oh, dude, come on... please?". But in the public sector, one gets the protections outlined above and wages comparable to the private sector.

So think about that next time you see a statehouse protestor with a sign claiming to be the poor, oppressed last bastion of the middle class. Think about it, but don't bother asking the protestor carrying the sign; odds are, at least here in Indiana, and I have to believe in Wisconsin and elsewhere as well, that the protestor is not a teacher at all, but a paid surrogate.

*This used to be called "Danegeld"- but as the Danes actually have a much better public school system than we do, I don't think it's appropriate.

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