Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that providing a high-quality education is key to addressing many of our country’s challenges, and that world-class public schools provide the path to global opportunity, high-quality employment and strong local communities. While we have many good schools in America, we can still do a better job educating our children and replicating and scaling up successful programs so that they are the norm across the country. We must set ambitious goals for education that include advanced 21st-Century skills, good character and informed citizenship.

Please give your suggestion.

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Fire bad teachers.
Sounds good.

What is a bad teacher? Are they teachers who fail the tests or are they teachers who ace the tests? Are they mavericks or are they the compliant? Are they bad teachers in their current context, and would flourish in another? (And even the obvious - those who, now, don't care about their students, their subjects or anything else - was there a time when they did? Is there a way back?)

Is there a large pool of good teachers lurking for these vacancies when all the bad teachers get fired? There isn't one where I teach.

Are bad teachers (generally) irredeemable? Perhaps there need to be supports and fresh training for bad teachers, rather than an efficient firing process?

Perhaps I'm a bad teacher myself and feel under threat? (I think the answer to the first is no. I know the answer to the last is yes - and that's actually de-motivating.)
Ian, and what about us who teach in areas where we don't give standardized tests to tie our paycheck to? How subjective could the process of choosing be? What are we going to do, put our heads down on the tables at the next faculty meeting and vote for who stays and who goes?
Yep, even more questions. I really don't, from my experience, know many bad teachers. I've known quite a few who took time to find their feet (one of them is me, I think), some who did not connect in their current classroom environment (assessment through 'classroom uproar' as opposed to 'working noise'). However, we need also have our eyes open to the fact that if we can stigmatise teachers as bad, so too there can be bad classes (I've had some; I know I can recast that statement in mismatch type edu-speak...but sometimes a bald statement is helpful!).

Personally, I wouldn't have the wisdom or knowledge to really know who to fire - but I'd want my school first and foremeost to be able to work with 'classroom uproar' teachers - some coaching, mentoring and collegiality might be a great start. There may be a point of need for a vocational conversation after this exploring 'why am I here?' in a useful way. But, I'm not, and won't be, in the position for that decision making anyway.
1 bad class? Sure.
2 bad classes? Ok.
5 bad classes while everyone else in the school is performing fine? Sorry, that's a bad teacher.
I'm not sorry - but what do other staff do for a bad teacher, once they've identified him/her? Are bad staff redeemable? Is there a swarm of better panting for their place? Is there any support, encouragement, help - or are they ditched, quietly as a dead loss?
Ian, Here's a scenario---teacher writes own high level curriculum for 25 years in varied content areas, writes and presents tech workshops and lectures at national presentations and at the district level, does bus duty twice a week for years :) , is friendly to everyone, does not gossip or get involved in school drama, has no disciplinary notes in file, spends at least 3-4 hours a day online-- researching, collaborating, blogging with students and others, designing websites and of course I could go on and on. My first teaching contract was for $4800.00 a year. Would I like to have been paid for what I think is 'above and beyond'? Sure. I never took this job for the money but if there were a way excellent teachers could get paid more for being excellent I'd be all for it. I just don't see how that will ever work.

Do I think I'm worth twice as much as the screaming teacher next door---you betcha.
I reckon you probably are too Nancy - but, until we can clone you, is there hope for the screaming teacher next door (or their class(es))?
Ian, First of all I think that student teaching should be freshman year (or some kind of practicum). Pre-service teachers should be in the classroom early and often--every year? Also all new hires should have a mentor, preferably one that does not teach in his or her own classroom. Great job for retired teachers, albeit expensive for the school district. Maybe first year teachers could team teach with a veteran teacher. That's sounds expensive too! What ideas do you have?
That sounds great, Nancy - it gets new faces off to an excellent collegial start, and if the counters get their beans right, the cost is far cheaper than blighted lives of teachers and students, and it provides positive support - which makes any negative work easier to do, and opens a pathway for earlier and better interventions. To retune a quote from another context 'Your next best teachers may be the ones you have now!'
Although the problems with education are multi faceted, the one thing that has to change is the mind set of the general public. Everyone want the children in their community to get a 21st century education but, they don't want to pay for it.I am reminded of the proverb, "Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die".
I agree with this. Schools (teachers) are held accountable if students don't pass the state test(s) at the end of the year. However, no one else seems to be held accountable - not the parent who habitually drops their child off at school late and/or picks them up early. Students are allowed to stay up into the wee hours playing video games, IMing, watching TV - then sleeping in class the following day(s). Parents text their children (yes, our schools don't allow cell phones) asking if the child wants to come home. Suspension from school is a vacation - the kids play basketball, watch TV, etc. (When I was in school a suspension would have meant a to-do list so long it would have taken weeks to finish, there would have been no time for play.)
Why are schools and teachers the only ones accountable if students fail the test? Yes, I know, how does one hold a community accountable?



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