- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
Saturday, May. 16, 2009 at 4:56 AM
The LA Times makes it appear as if non-qualified teachers are gaming the system in great numbers, but a careful reading of the article shows that may not be the case.
This is an answer to an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on May 3 (front page, above the fold). This response may be a little late, but it is still necessary. Statistics and studies can be used to either enlighten or deceive people, particularly with current hot-button issues like the firing of teachers, for reasons of budget, malfeasance or any reason. The article can be found at http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teachers3-2009may03,0,679507.story
The article is titled "When firing a teacher is almost too hard to try: Hurdles are so high that districts often pursue only the very worst cases....and frequently lose even those." (Italics are mine.) The title above the photo says "Failure gets a pass." Almost too hard...often....frequently....these are flexible words that can describe any type of situation, with any result. And that is the case here.
This article employs a convoluted maze-like graphic (p. A16) to make the point that firing teachers is difficult and complicated, when a linear chart of due-process steps would do just as well. Someone with a predisposition to believe the worst about teachers and teachers' unions could treat this article as definitive proof that it is too hard (as opposed to "almost" too hard) to fire bad teachers, and that districts mostly (not "often") pursue the worst offenders and mostly (not "frequently") lose even those cases. But even the article's headlines don't claim that, because they can't.
The "hard statistics" part of the article claims that, over 15 years, California school districts that pursued the firing of tenured teachers all the way to the state Commission on Professional Competence prevailed in 100 out 159 cases. Note that that is still a nearly two-thirds success rate for the districts.
One should note as well that that number does not indicate the total number of tenured teachers fired in California, many of whose cases do not even reach the Commission level. Why don't these cases reach the Commission? In some cases, the offending teacher may be caught "dead to rights" and may know that appealing the case to the Commission would not be worth it. In others, the District may realize it made a mistake and back down from the firing. In still other cases, the teacher may not deserve the firing but may lack the energy, the good advice or the witnesses to appeal any further, and may simply accept the firing or work out a separation deal with the District.
How many tenured teachers, total, are fired in California? And how hard is it for districts to fire them, overall? The article does not contain that information, since it focuses exclusively on cases that are appealed to the Commission.
One clue may lie in the article's citation of firing statistics for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Out of 30,000 tenured teachers, LAUSD fires 21 a year. If you assume that that statistic applies to the last 15 years, you get over 300 tenured teachers fired in one District alone, during the same period when only 100 were fired by the state Commission. What conclusion can you draw from this? Well, primarily that relatively few cases are appealed to the Commission. But it tells us nothing about how many teachers are fired in California, nor about how easy it is for districts to do it.
Also, please note that the article only discusses tenured teachers, not probationary teachers who make up a significant minority of the state's teaching corps. "Bad teachers" are supposed to be weeded out during this probationary period, or the teacher is supposed to receive professional guidance and training. These teachers lack the contract and due-process protections of their more experienced colleagues, and so it is easy for administrators to go through them like chocolates. Any administrator can simply fire, or decline to re-hire, a probationary teacher at the end of the school year, and there are no appeals, no big cases, no shocking headlines. I remember a period in the late 1990's when my principal or her AP's would fire an average of two new teachers per year, out of a staff of over 100. That is significant.
If a probationary teacher survives this period of job insecurity, then by all means he/she is entitled to all the due-process protections the contract can provide. He/she earned it!
So, how many teachers in California get fired? This is all we know from the article:
1) Two-thirds of tenured teachers who appeal their cases to the state Commission.
2) An unknown number of tenured teachers whose cases don't reach the Commission stage.
3) An unknown number of probationary teachers.
And from the cases cited by the article, districts still win most of the time. But we still have no information about how "hard" it is to fire a teacher.
Thank goodness we teachers have a contract, a union and rights of due process to protect us! "Bad teachers" can and do get fired -- some firings are even documented in the article, at the bottom of p. A17 -- but good teachers have a fighting chance to fend off unfair, retaliatory or vindictive actions by their superiors. I know this, since I have been the target of a vindictive administrator myself. Every case is different, every teacher is different, so you get different results.
For more in-depth discussion of how statistics are used to mislead the public, please look up John Allen Paulos' excellent book A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper, at http://www.amazon.com/Mathematician-Reads-Newspaper-Allen-Paulos/dp/038548254X/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242373119&sr=1-4
Report this post as:
Change Links September 2018 posted
More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre
Site Outage Friday
Change Links August 2018
Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land
More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke
Change Links 2018 July posted
More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena
"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena
Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles
Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California
Change Links June 2018 posted
The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years
Unity Archive Project
Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi
CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police
Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies
California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings)
Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico
Change Links May 2018
Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed
GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE
lausd whistle blower
Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images
UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light
Change Links April 2018
More Local News...
Against the Rent Madness and For a Nonprofit Orientation!
Cybermonde, cyberguerre, cyberespace, cyberterrorisme
Paraphysique de psychosomatique
Chuck Grassley: Women Abusing, Animal Murdering, Illegal War Supporting Criminal
Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy
Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales
Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc
Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk
Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement
The Dictatorship of Corporations
18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting
Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue
Shopping du bashing
After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again
“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen
Probabilités de fin d'humanité
Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW
Steer clear of work morality!
The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally!
August 2018 Honduras Coup update
Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges
Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts
Paraphysique de contextualité
Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism
Ex-voto de réification
Please Oppose Warmonger, Execution and Torture Supporting Bush Operative Brett Kavanaugh
Paraphysique d'exploitation occultation
More Breaking News...