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Bad Teachers or Bad Principals?

There's no doubt that bad teachers exist and don't belong in the classroom.  But who are they and why did they get the label?  New York City's Absent Teacher Reserve is an example ("Making kids suffer for teachers no one wants," New York Post, Aug. 21).

If teachers are charged with incompetence or misconduct, it's the responsibility of principals to provide evidence.  But too often, teachers languish in the pool because no proof exists to prove their guilt.  For example, teachers who disagree with a principal's decision can be accused of insubordination and find themselves dumped in the pool.  Or teachers who are given classes with hard-to-teach students and don't produce results can be accused of incompetence, which also puts them in the pool.

It's easy to label all teachers in such pools as irremediably bad.  But the truth will never be known unless the charges against them are allowed to proceed.  I'd bet few would prevail. Accused felons have more rights than these teachers.  It's time to investigate the matter.  If it can be proved that the charges against the teachers are true, then the process for firing them should be accelerated.  Letting them remain at full pay and full benefits is outrageous.

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The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner's Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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