12 de junho de 2014

Erik Hanushek y Diane Ravitch debaten tenure para profesores del sector público.


More Easily Firing Bad Teachers Helps Everyone

Eric Hanushek
Eric Hanushek is an economist and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. He is co-author of "Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School." He testified for the plaintiffs in the Vergarra case.

JUNE 11, 2014

Teacher tenure discussions often suggest that what is in the best interest of teachers is also in the best interest of students. But the groundbreaking decision in the Vergara case makes it clear that early, and effectively irreversible, decisions about teacher tenure have real costs for students and ultimately all of society.

Ineffective faculty are a drag on colleagues and hold back the development of students. Ending strict job protection lets them be removed.

Teacher tenure, and the related onerous and costly requirements for dismissing an ineffective teacher, have evolved into a system that almost completely insulates teachers from review, evaluation, or personnel decisions that would threaten their lifetime employment. Research shows that this results in serious harm both to individual students and to society, because a small number of grossly ineffective teachers are retained in our schools.

The California court, noting that education is a fundamental right of California youth, struck down the law that requires administrators to make essentially lifetime decisions after a teacher has been in the classroom for just 16 months and has yet to complete an induction program. Similarly rejected were statutes that make requirements for removing a tenured teacher so onerous and costly that it is seldom attempted.

Legislatures will likely respond to the court decision by lessening (but not eliminating completely) the burden of dismissing an ineffective teacher. The teachers unions will undoubtedly claim that is an attack on teachers. It is not. It is simply an attempt to restore some balance in the system.

A small percentage of teachers inflicts disproportionate harm on children. Each year a grossly ineffective teacher continues in the classroom reduces the future earnings of the class by thousands of dollars by dramatically lowering the college chances and employment opportunities of students.

There is also a national impact. The future economic well being of the United States is entirely dependent on the skills of our population. Replacing the poorest performing 5 to 8 percent of teachers with an average teacher would, by my calculations, yield improved productivity and growth that amounts to trillions of dollars.

The teachers unions have an opportunity to participate in crafting a more balanced system that promotes world-class schools. By not collaborating, they face the very real possibility that courts and state legislatures will continue to disregard their voices in attempting to improve schooling opportunities. The stakes in getting it right are extraordinarily high.


Due Process Prevents Capricious Firings

Diane Ravitch
Diane Ravitch, a historian of education, is the author of several books, including "The Great School Wars," a history of the New York City public schools.

UPDATED JUNE 12, 2014, 8:19 AM

A century ago, teaching was one of the few white-collar jobs open to women. Classes were large, salaries were low, and working conditions were poor. Supervisors and school boards, male-dominated, made many rules governing teachers' lives. In some cities, for example, school boards fired teachers if they married, or if they were allowed to marry, they were fired if they became pregnant.

In the early days of the formation of teachers' unions, teachers cared most about two issues: tenure and pensions. Teachers wanted some guarantee that they would not retire to a life of poverty. And they wanted assurance that they could not be fired for arbitrary and capricious reasons. They wanted to be sure that they could not be fired by a school board that wanted to hire a colleague's daughter or sister, or fired by a principal who didn't like their looks or their religion.

The Vergara decision in California strikes at one of the issues that matters most to teachers today. Unlike tenure in higher education, public school tenure is not a guarantee of a lifetime job. In elementary and secondary education, tenure is a guarantee that a teacher can be fired only for just cause, with due process.

In states with tenure, teachers must work satisfactorily for a period of time before they are eligible for tenure. In California, it was 18 months -- or two school years. In most other states, it is three or four years. Only then may the principal decide whether to grant tenure. A teacher with tenure is entitled to a hearing before he or she may be fired, and evidence of misconduct must be presented before an independent hearing officer.

Tenure protects academic freedom. In the absence of tenure, teachers may be fired for any reason. Teachers may be fired if the principal doesn't like them or if they are experienced and become too expensive. Teachers may be fired for being outspoken.

There is no evidence that tenure causes low test scores. There is no evidence that children get higher achievement if their teachers have no tenure. The best predictor of low test scores is poverty. Every standardized test -- whether the SAT, the ACT, state tests, national tests, or international tests – shows the effects of family income on test scores.

Schools in poor communities typically experience high teacher turnover because of lack of resources, large classes, and the challenge of teaching the neediest children while being held accountable for their test scores.

The loss of tenure will make it even more difficult to staff schools in the poorest neighborhoods. Abolishing tenure solves no problems for students and creates massive demoralization among teachers, who understand that their job depends now on compliance to administrators, at whose whim they serve.

We expect teachers to teach children to think critically, but how can they do this if they are not allowed to think critically and to teach without fear?
Has recibido esta información porque estas suscrito a la lista de Gregory Elacqua sobre políticas educativas.

New Deal for Teachers; New Will by Managers

Michael J. Petrilli
Michael J. Petrilli is executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He is on Twitter.
UPDATED JUNE 12, 2014, 1:08 PM
Asking whether teacher tenure should be abolished in public schools is like asking whether the Tampa Bay Rays (18 games below .500) should sack their shortstop. Sure, that might be a good start, but that’s not going to be enough to turn things around.
New teachers need better salary structures, hope for advancement, rewards for effectiveness, and portable pensions. Principals must fire bad teachers.
First, the argument for eliminating tenure: As Judge Rolf M. Treu of Los Angeles Superior Court ruled on Tuesday, any benefit that tenure provides to teachers is far outweighed by its costs to children and society by keeping grossly ineffective instructors in the classroom. Defenders often say that tenure is all that limits principals and school boards from terminating teachers for innumerable bogus motives. Yet in the decades since legislatures put tenure laws on the books, legal protections for all employees have grown dramatically, particularly in the public sector. Dismissal under tenure requires a far more onerous due process procedure. But even without it, anyone who believes that he or she has been discriminated against or fired for “arbitrary and capricious” reasons can sue, and will often win. That goes for teachers, too.
Tenure reform is no education game-changer. Tenure is just one part of a dysfunctional approach to human resource management in U.S. schools that needs a complete overhaul. Our public education system is among the only institutions in the land still pretending that professionals will spend their whole careers in a single job. The teacher compensation structure heavily favors lifers, what with its mix of low pay with generous, back-loaded retirement benefits. This is an unattractive package for millennials, few of whom picture staying in any position for more than five or ten years.
In fact, these pensions are an important hidden factor in the tenure debate. It’s one thing for a teacher to lose her job; it’s quite another thing for her to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars of pension wealth. Because of the way pension systems are designed, that’s exactly what can happen to a burned-out veteran who is just a few years from retirement. Thus their passion for the protection that tenure provides.
Policymakers may find that the only politically practical way to eliminate tenure is to phase it out over time, grandfathering in long-time veterans and starting with a “new deal” for new teachers. That deal wouldn’t include tenure but could feature higher starting salaries, faster salary growth, opportunities for career advancement, rewards for exceptional effectiveness and portable pensions.
Finally, as the American Enterprise Institute’s Rick Hess has argued, advocates will need to pay attention to the “missing half” of education reform: Changing the way that leaders in the system behave. It’s undeniable that many principals today don’t take advantage of the flexibility they already have to remove ineffective teachers before they earn tenure. Whether this is because of a lack of will or a lack of better candidates, this chronic mismanagement isn’t something that policy change — even tenure reform — alone can fix.
So yes, abolish tenure. But don’t expect championship performance from our schools as a result of that one fix alone.

Job Protections Do Not Hurt Students

Brian Jones
Brian Jones, a former New York City public school teacher, is the Green Party's candidate for lieutenant governor of New York. He blogs at "No Struggle, No Progress." He is on Twitter.
UPDATED JUNE 12, 2014, 12:55 PM
America is the land of misdirected anger. This time, teachers in California are on the receiving end.
That is not to say that public school parents in the state shouldn't be angry. In the last decade, billions have been cut from California’s K-12 budget. A public school system that used to be the envy of the nation has been starved to death. Budget cuts have meant canceled after-school and summer programs. It has meant rising student-teacher ratios, and in some Los Angeles classrooms, for example, overcrowding that has forced students to find seats atop file cabinets.
If tenure prevented achievement, Mississippi (no teacher tenure) would have stellar schools and Massachusetts (teacher tenure) would have failing ones. The opposite is true.
Now, thanks to the super-sized bank account of Silicon Valley mogul David Welch, who founded the parent group behind the Vergara case and funded the legal team, the court has come to see that students’ rights were not violated by overcrowded classes or budget cuts, but by the rights afforded to the teachers.
The court is wrong — and so is Welch. If teacher tenure is an important obstacle to achievement, Mississippi (with no teacher tenure) should have stellar schools and Massachusetts (with teacher tenure) should have failing ones. Instead, it’s the other way around. Correlation is not causation, of course, but across the country the states without tenure are at the bottom of performance rankings. States with the highest-achieving public schools have tenure (and teacher unions).
K-12 teachers with tenure do not have a job for life. What “tenure” means, for them, is due-process procedures for dismissals with cause, instead of capricious or at-will dismissal from their duties. I've spoken to countless teachers from Southern states who are afraid to do the things that New York City teachers do all the time – write blogs, write letters to the editor, even show up to a rally – because they could lose their jobs for speaking out. All working people should have such protections.
If anything, teacher tenure laws need to be strengthened because the country is bleeding teachers — especially in large urban districts. Between 40 and 50 percent of teachers nationwide leave the job within five years. If 40 percent of all doctors or lawyers quit within five years, I’m guessing we wouldn’t be asking why they have it so good. We certainly wouldn’t be trying to figure out what we can do to make their terms of employment less favorable.
Can we do a better job of training and developing teachers? Sure, but removing tenure doesn’t do anything to get us closer to that goal. In the meantime, teachers’ rights are a convenient scapegoat.
It goes something like this: Angry at the conditions in your local public school? Don’t ask how they got that way. Don’t ask who set the budget priorities. Don’t ask who is in charge of hiring teachers and guiding their development. Don’t ask who’s in charge of making sure the conditions of school are optimal for teaching and for learning. Whatever you do, do not look at the million-dollar man behind the curtain of the lawsuit.
Just blame the teacher.

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BERKELEY, Calif. — IN his decision on Tuesday to strike down California’s teacher-tenure system, Judge Rolf M. Treu of Los Angeles Superior Court ruled that laws protecting teachers from dismissal violated the state’s constitutional commitment to provide “a basically equal opportunity to achieve a quality education” and drew parallels with prior cases concerning school desegregation and funding levels.
But there is a difference between recognizing students’ rights to integrated, adequately funded schools and Judge Treu’s conclusion that teacher employment protections are unconstitutional.
The issue is balance. Few would suggest that too much integration or too much funding hurts disadvantaged students. By contrast, decisions about firing teachers are inherently about trade-offs: It is important to dismiss ineffective teachers, but also to attract and retain effective teachers.
Judge Treu’s opinion in the case, Vergara v. California (in which I provided expert testimony for the defense), ignores these trade-offs. In fact, eliminating tenure will do little to address the real barriers to effective teaching in impoverished schools, and may even make them worse.
The reason has to do with the many ways that the role of teachers in the labor market has changed in recent decades. When few professions were open to highly skilled women, schools could hire them for low salaries. Now, teaching must compete with other professions. That has made it hard to recruit the best candidates. One study found that the share of the highest-achieving women who were teachers fell by half between 1964 and 2000; another found an 80 percent drop.
Thomas J. Kane, a professor of education at Harvard and an expert witness for the Vergara plaintiffs, co-wrote a paper in 2006 on the “coming teacher shortage” and a looming need to “dig further down in the pool of those willing to consider” teaching. Significant layoffs during the last recession, which refilled the pool of job seekers, temporarily alleviated the problem. But those will be absorbed quickly as education budgets recover.
The challenge, then, is to increase the number of high-quality applicants. One of the few things that helps to recruit good people into teaching is job security. That is not to say teachers should never be dismissed — but when and how to do that requires careful balancing.
In a recent study, I examined the effects of changing job protections not just on the quality of teachers given tenure, but also on a district’s ability to attract and retain good ones. My research yielded three salient, surprising facts.
First, firing bad teachers actually makes it harder to recruit new good ones, since new teachers don’t know which type they will be. That risk must be offset with higher salaries — but that in turn could force increases in class size that themselves harm student achievement.
Second, while it might seem better to wait on granting tenure, early decisions — not in the first year, but soon after — actually improve student achievement. That’s partly because stable faculties are better for students, but also because an attentive district knows a great deal about which teachers are good and bad after just two years, and waiting longer provides little additional information.
Finally, the freedom to fire experienced teachers is valuable only when dismissal rates are very high, say, 40 percent or more. And yet such rates come with costs: The risk of firing good teachers is high, and the impact on a school’s culture is detrimental to learning.
But with lower dismissal rates, marginal teachers are much worse than the average new recruit, and it is more important to get rid of them quickly than to get the decision exactly right.
Suppose you don’t want to fire more than 20 percent of teachers. You face a decision: Once you’ve fired the worst 19 percent and have two candidates who each might be the next worst, do you decide early, realizing that you might make a mistake, or do you wait to be sure you’ve got it right? In this case, the costs of waiting outweigh the benefits, and you should do it soon. Tenure laws can usefully tie your hands, forcing you to do that.
In short, while the notion of “clearing the stables” of bad teachers seems attractive, it is almost impossible to get right in practice. No conceivable system can eliminate all “grossly ineffective” teachers, and efforts aimed at doing so can do more harm than good.
Everyone agrees that closing the achievement gap should be a high priority. But the remedy should fit the problem.
The lack of effective teachers in impoverished schools contributes to that gap, but tenure isn’t the cause. Teaching in those schools is a hard job, and many teachers prefer (slightly) easier jobs in less troubled settings. That leads to high turnover and difficulty in filling positions. Left with a dwindling pool of teachers, principals are unlikely to dismiss them, whether they have tenure or not.
Instead, policy makers should continue experiments with bonuses to attract good teachers, as well as ways to reduce the transfer of effective teachers out of schools where they are most needed.
Attacking tenure as a protection racket for ineffective teachers makes for good headlines. But it does little to close the achievement gap, and risks compounding the problem.

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