No choices on teacher quality

Even if you don't believe that principals should have unfettered choices when it comes to hiring new teachers (see here), surely few people would defend a system whereby principals have no choice over the individuals who teach in their schools. Yet, according to a blockbuster report by The New Teacher Project, fully 40 percent of vacancies (in five urban districts studied) were filled by veteran teachers over whom the principal had little or no say in hiring. Principals adjust to this perverse set-up, both by hiding their vacancies from the central office and by encouraging poor performers to exit for other schools (where administrators will have no choice but to take them). So who is defending this system? Reg Weaver of the NEA, of course, who tells the L.A. Times: "I think it's another smoke screen to blame union rules for our society's lack of commitment to children.... This diversion gets us away from the responsibility we have collectively to make sure that no children are left behind." When we know that teachers are among the most important factors in raising student achievement, one can hardly call this problem a "diversion."

"Report Says Teacher Union Contracts Are Holding Schools Back," by Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2005