That’s the argument anyway: it’s impossible to get rid of bad teachers because teachers’ unions make it nearly impossible to fire them. Statistics say that it takes up to $219,000 to fire a bad teacher protected by tenure (http://teachersunionexposed.com/protecting.cfm).
But what makes a bad teacher? It’s not as easy a call as you might think.
Answering that question, an anonymous poster on a blog site wrote: “Great question! And I am a teacher. 1) Little or no sense of humor, and/or ability to laugh at oneself. 2)burnt out/uninspired/bored teachers. 3) Teachers w/ poor skills in communication, orginization, creativity. 4) judgemental teachers who are unable/unwilling to recognize their student’s strengths. 5) teachers who focus more on their student’s weaknesses. 6) those who do not differentiate their teaching styles/behavior management for individual students.7)those who simply do not care. cold, uncaring teachers…..I could go on…. ” You can read other good opinions here: http://www.dcurbanmom.com/jforum/posts/list/188300.page.
As you can surmise, determining bad teaching is a very subjective proposition. I remember one of my professors in college describing an eye-opening conversation with a public-school student. The professor had always considered himself to be a a pretty darn good teacher. The student had had a bad year with him and said, with great sincerity, “You are the worst teacher I’ve ever had.”
The professor’s point? A teacher may be good for some kids and not for others. Who says who’s bad? Disgruntled parents, unhappy about a bad grade, can put negative pressure to get rid of a teacher. A principal may just not like someone. A teacher struggling with depression or illness may have a few bad years. A struggling teacher may improve with help.
OTOH there really are bad teachers. I would say there are not very many of them. However, does it take dismantling teachers’ unions in order to remove them? What other approaches might we have?