Society and Culture, Education

Here’s how hard it is to fire a really, really bad teacher

In response to Jason Richwine and my paper on public school teacher compensation, in which we tried to place a value on the greater job security enjoyed by teachers, we sometimes heard that this job security is a myth. Teachers can be dismissed, protested the unions.

Sure, but today’s New York Times details exactly how far some teachers can go without getting the can. For instance,

A high school science teacher in the Bronx who had already been warned about touching female students brushed his lower body against one student’s leg during a lab exercise, coming so close that she told investigators she could feel his genitals through his pants.

That guy’s still in the classroom, as are a math teacher who harassed a female student via phone and text messages and a health teacher who simulated anal sex on one of his male students. In these and other cases, the Times reports, New York school officials’ efforts to fire such teachers were stymied by contractually-required arbitration that, while finding the teachers at fault, didn’t go so far as to fire them.

But the worst comes through a quote from a teachers union lawyer. Said James R. Sandner, who retired recently after a long career as a lawyer for New York State United Teachers, “If the person is punished in some fashion and now realizes that this is something they should not do, and they feel remorse, you ought to be able to get to a point of simply moving on.”

So if you just didn’t realize that the bumping and grinding with a teenage student wasn’t exactly ok, but now that you do know you feel bad about it you feel bad, then you’re good to go? The answer in New York City, at least, appears to be yes.

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