The Battle Against Bad Teaching

Audio, Canada, Commentary, Education, Frontier Centre

Nothing is more important than giving our children a good education, but getting rid of bad teachers can be very difficult.

A recent court case in California may change that in the United States.

A judge in Los Angeles has declared as unconstitutional, the sections of those laws that give teachers tenure within two years, protecting them from dismissal, and allowing lay-offs only on the basis of seniority.

Lawyers for a group of students argued successfully that the laws violate their rights to a quality education and equal opportunity to succeed, because they keep bad teachers in the classroom and push good ones out.

In both Canada and the U.S, firing a teacher requires years of documentation, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and is still not guaranteed to succeed.

In Alberta recently, a teachers’ association committee called for a two-year suspension for a teacher who terrorized students by kicking furniture and throwing objects at them.

The case shows that even grossly inappropriate behaviour does not always result in dismissal.

Good teachers should not be blamed for poor results due to factors beyond their control, but job security should not be guaranteed for incompetent or abusive teachers.

If governments don’t address the problem, the answer may lie with the courts, as was the case in California.

I’m Roger Currie. Join us again next week for more thoughts on the Frontier.

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