Re "Protect good teachers, fire bad ones," Editorial, Jan. 27
The Times overlooks
an important dynamic of teaching skills: remediation.
If we rely on student test scores to evaluate teacher quality, then we ignore the reality that all students learn in different ways and at different rates. Truly skillful teachers realize that their job is more than teaching students how to memorize information for a test. They must find ways to nurture their students' natural abilities.
Teachers having difficulty doing this must be provided a program that remediates their skills. This does not mean more methodology classes or the magic lesson plan formula that makes all students into master test takers. This means establishing a program of opportunities to see "good teaching practices" in action, using coaches, teacher models, peers and visits to successful classrooms.
Providing faltering teachers with methodology classes or a do-all model of teaching procedures simply have not worked. We must think of teaching as a talent, not just a skill.
The writer is president of the Garvey School District Board of Education.
It is true that uncaring and incompetent teachers deprive students of access to high-quality education. Sometimes, this deprivation hinders future academic success.
Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. John Deasy said it right when he noted that the single most important issue in student learning was the teacher's effectiveness. Therefore, if we want to provide equal educational opportunity for our students, we must find a way to fire ineffective teachers.
What The Times fails to mention is that good teachers don't need protection. Their good teaching provides all the protection they need. Providing tenure after two years makes no sense, and layoffs based on seniority will not lead to a high-quality education for all California students.
Occasionally an alcoholic or a heavy smoker reaches his or her 80s. Nobody touts these cases as a reason to drink too much or to smoke.
The same applies to teaching. Low, middle and high achievers come to my class and leave the same way. Success stories in which someone blossoms are very rare.
Income inequality, broken families and malnutrition are the main reasons for achievement gaps. Teachers have zero impact here.
Taking away teacher protections like seniority and tenure would simply remove the wall between good teaching and the petty politics of administrators.