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Cleveland Plan to Dismiss Teachers Protested by Union

The Cleveland district's plan not to renew the contracts of some 45 teachers is bumping up against concerns from the city teachers' union president, who claims he was "blindsided" by the move, the Plain Dealer reports.

Some 68 teachers, or about 2.5 percent of the workforce, were originally identified for termination. After reviews, principals decided to give 15 another chance, and another eight retired or resigned. The personnel also include librarians and other support staff. 

To be clear, these are nontenured teachers, which typically means they can be dismissed without the more involved process required for dismissing a teacher with due-process protections. Ohio's probationary period is actually longer than in most states, requiring a teacher to hold a license for seven years (and to be in the same district for at least three of the last five). 

Still, Cleveland Federation of Teachers President David Quolke said the district bears more of a responsibility for helping the teachers improve before letting them go. He's encouraging the teachers to appeal the decisions.

A rate of 2.5 percent is about the same percent of the workforce let go in New Haven, Conn., under its new evaluation system, and it's lower than the 9 percent of teachers who were identified as underperforming recently in Pittsburgh, two other cities with American Federation of Teachers affiliates.

Interestingly, Cleveland is another example of a district that AFT leaders have held up as a model of labor-management collaboration because of a good rapport during the development of the evaluation system and other plans. It bears repeating that collaboration is easiest when the stakes are lower; the true sign of a partnership will be whether it can survive the tough calls.

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