Class Warfare Blog

December 24, 2011

Either that Tie Goes, or . . .

Filed under: Education,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 1:57 pm
Tags: , , , ,

The Chicago Tribune followed up on a story they ran about this time last year. It was about a guy who wore a tie to work as a car salesman just after the Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears in the 2010 NFC Championship football game. The tie was a Packers tie and the owner didn’t like it one bit. The employee was ordered to take it off, refused, and was fired (for team disloyalty?). The follow-up was that the guy was hired by another car dealership not far away and, since then, has been employee of the month five times and has sold over 150 cars. People even come in to the dealership asking for “The Packer Guy.”

The reason I share this story with you is that conservatives are always offering as a solution for our public school problems that principals should be able to fire “bad teachers” whenever they want. The above example is indicative of that kind of power. A guy gets fired over a perceived, but not real, problem (guy wearing Packer’s tie in Bear’s Country). Conservatives often argue that only the boss can know the whole situation and the guy may have had other problems you don’t know about and it might not have been just the tie. Well, the guy’s performance at the dealership down the road indicates the firing boss may have shot himself in the foot by ridding himself of a very good employee for no good reason. Ah, say the conservatives, “the market corrects itself, you see.”

I have no problem with the first boss firing the guy for his tie, a nasty look, or any other reason, if he owns the business and if he is the one at risk for making a bad decision (he was). But school principals? C’mon. They have no skin in the game. They are just other employees of the same boss (the public) and no more well-trained to make hiring and firing decisions that the people they are supervising. And back when principals had the power to hire and fire there were enough incidents of principals firing people and then hiring their nephews to bring into question the effectiveness of such a move.

Bureaucracies exist for reasons. Due process exists for reasons. In the public sphere, we need to be reshaping our bureaucracies so they are more effective, not doing away with them and appointing mini-dictators (the counter example of The State of Michigan should suffice as proof).

For starters, how about a definition of teacher effectiveness? How about a coherent policy on what to do with marginally ineffective teachers? I have no problem with firing ineffective teachers, just the basis needs to be something more than a tie.

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