I’d like to make something clear regarding my recent post on Waiting for Superman — please don’t read my post thinking that I’m necessarily drinking all of the Kool-Aid. I have questions and doubts just like anybody else. I don’t believe that charters and KIPP and Geoffrey Canada are the end all be all, if you will. I’m a public school teacher who believes very strongly that we need to fix our system and I believe that teachers in the public schools are doing a tremendous job, day in and day out. But I also believe that we need to accept our responsibility as well.
I’ve received a couple emails since my post which have been critical of the stance that I’ve taken concerning the dismissal of bad teachers. I’d like to clarify my position, just to make sure that it’s completely understood. I believe that once a struggling teacher has been identified (and I believe this is done through observations, not simply the result of test scores), he deserves all the help a district has to correct the problems. I believe that should this teacher not make the necessary improvements — and the commitment necessary for our profession — then the employer should be permitted to work to remove him. I don’t believe that this teacher should be able to hide behind tenure whatsoever, but I do believe in due process. For some reason, this was misunderstood in my last post.
In addition, I am a supporter of our unions; I grew up in a union household and was taught their value early on. I am also a building representative and have had the opportunity to work alongside men and women who tirelessly work to make our working conditions better. Their job is underappreciated and there are times I wonder why they put themselves through the trouble. Selflessly, there are people working in our unions every single day to help us in the classroom. I will never believe that a failing teacher who refuses to work to get better and show improvement, however, should be retained just because of having taught for two to three years.
Our clientele is simply too precious to allow this to happen. There are Daisy’s and Bianca’s and Anthony’s and Emily’s and Francisco’s in each and every school in our country. We must strive to make sure that each one of our clients isn’t forced to enter a high stakes lottery by necessity – but the choice should still be there.
There’s not a doubt in my mind that I will be referring to this film in future posts — if nothing else, the film has affected me in this manner — we need to address these issues, and if it serves as a rallying cry for the incredible professionals in our industry, then so be it.