First let me say to Tim Pak, I am sorry for your awful experience last year. No one should be made to feel unwelcome at our school. When a teacher abuses a position of authority, this is a serious problem.
Here’s my personal response to his column.
Mr. Park writes, “Last year, I had a teacher who was here at CVHS just for the money.” Who isn’t here for the money? I have a small daughter. She relies on me to keep a roof over her head, pay for her daycare, pay for doctor’s visits and put healthy food on the table. Of course I love working with students, but teaching is not an act of charity.
Mr. Pak continues, “No matter how dispassionately or horribly a teacher teaches, a tenured teacher cannot be removed for petty reasons.” Should anyone lose their livelihood over “petty” reasons? Bad teaching isn’t a petty reason, though. And state law clearly allows a teacher to be dismissed for poor teaching (and unprofessional conduct, such as bullying a student).
It’s a good thing that the state law spells out exactly which offenses a teacher can be fired over. It makes the process clear to everyone involved and helps prevent unreasonable firings.
So why do teachers need permanent jobs? Having a permanent job allows us to plan for retirement instead of constantly worrying about our old age. I think we deserve that.
Having a permanent job gives us the confidence to speak our minds to administrators when we see something wrong. I think that improves our school for everybody.
So what about bad apples? Let’s bring back peer mentoring programs, so teachers can connect with other teachers to improve. The school district cut that program last year due to budget cuts. And this year we only have one staff improvement day. What a joke!
There’s a clear step-by-step process to remove ineffective teachers. Let’s use it. Principals evaluate teachers, note any issues and make recommendations. If a teacher fails to address any serious inadequacies they can be fired at the end of the year. Sure the teacher gets a final hearing to plead their case – but if they are truly rotten, it should be a slam dunk for a principal to demonstrate that. Problem solved.
Again, I am truly sorry for Mr. Pak’s experiences, even while I disagree with his view that my tenure is the cause.
John Green, social studies teacher