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Thursday, April 18
The Indiana Daily Student

national

Those who can't teach

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that the current California tenure laws deprived students the constitutional right to an education.

The argument was that incompetent and poorly trained teachers were assigned to schools with a disproportionately large percentage of poor students.

The teachers’ inability to teach led to millions of dollars in missed incomes later in the students’ lives.

Further, California laws made it nearly impossible to fire a tenured teacher deemed incompetent.

Tuesday’s ruling is a huge step at improving the quality of a student’s education.
While it can be dangerous being a teacher with your success dependent on the success of your students — who might or might not be motivated for their own success — a teacher’s job is ultimately to provide a quality education to his or her students.

If teachers fail at that job, they need to be let go and allow eager and more competent teachers to take their places.

However, this is a tricky situation because tenure is designed to protect against unfair staff decisions.

What should happen if a teacher receives a few years of uninspired students?
Is that a failure of the school system, the principal or the teacher?
Or are those failures just a fluke?

Still, it seems to me that much of the controversy regarding incompetent teachers on tenure could be solved by a mandatory retirement age.

In my experience, the teachers most deserving of a release from their tenure are the teachers who have been around for several decades.

In their increasing age, their teaching effectiveness has steadily declined.
These teachers were once very competent teachers.

In some cases, maybe they’re the most competent teachers because they’ve taught for decades.

But very few, if any, professions can reasonably claim a similar performance from a 65-year-old as they did for their respective 25-year-old selves.

Schools could resolve some of the suddenness by providing a comfortable
pension.

Tenured teachers are paid more than entry-level teacher positions, so the pension could consist of the difference between the tenured teacher’s salary and the newly hired teacher, which should be sustainable for at least a few years.

This would be more conducive for older teachers who want to retire but can’t because they need a salary.

Of course, there would be a significant difference between the amount of money a pension provides and a tenured teacher’s salary.

But, at the very least, it could help ease transition into a compelled retirement.

allenjo@indiana.edu
@IAmJoshAllen

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