A regular reader has posted several comments that seem to
imply that not enough teachers are being fired. Or that a system
with a small number of teachers fired was not up to par, assuming
that there are many “bad” teachers who have not been found out yet.
This seems to be the assumption behind Race to the Top and the
Gates’ approach to evaluation: stack ranking, from top to bottom.
Fire the bottom. I responded that about 40% of teachers leave
within the first five years of starting their job. He asked for
evidence. Good question. Here are two good sources. Ken Futernick
of Wested in Sn Francisco wrote an excellent article called “Incompetent
Teachers or Dysfunctional Systems?” Matt Di Carlo wrote
a good overview of
the research here. In no other profession do so many
people exit so rapidly. This suggests to me that states and
districts should have high standards for hiring teachers and then
should mentor new teachers, build a collegial culture, and make
sure that retention is a goal. We make a huge mistake with the new
evaluation systems, which seem intended to find and fire weak
teachers. The goal should be to make teachers better, if they are
willing to be helped. Churn is bad.