Saturday, August 05, 2006

Another teacher dismissal hearing

Also in my BOE packet for Tuesday is a letter indicating that a Maplewood teacher is being recommended for dismissal. The charges are incompetence, inefficiency, neglect of duty, unprofessional conduct and insubordination, as defined in TCA Section 49-5-501.

I commend Dr. Garcia for ridding our system of teachers that are failing to fulfill their commitments to the education of the children. I'm glad to read that this time the problem is only a year old and not four years old as in the previous dismissal. We need to keep a very short leash on these teachers.

I suspect we need to do many more of these and I'm not sure any board can endure that many. It has been suggested that the law be amended to allow a separate board/committee to do this absolutely necessary work. Personally, I think the board needs to endure these. It's only when they get tired enough of this nonsense that they will find the backbone to hold the MNEA accountable for the quality of their advocacy of these members during negotiation times. It's that backbone that will demand that the director hire excellent teachers on the forefront.

I don't envy the new board having to sit through hours and hours of droaning testimony that has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand. It was the board chair's decision to let the previous teacher and her MNEA lawyer go on and on and on issues that were not germane to the charges which just ate up time and added nothing of value to the deliberation. Frequently this tesimony contained unsubstantiated charges and slanderous statements about others that were rarely objected to by the chair. I understand that the concern of the chair is that limiting their testimony could be used as a way to appeal the board's decision. I also know that more than half of what was testified was completely useless to the case. And, in my opinion, actually harmed the teacher more than helped.

And I have no idea how much these hearings cost. The involvement of principals, other teachers, parents and children, the mounds of paperwork and research that must be done is tremendous. In a system with finite resources living in a world with only 24 hours in a day we cannot overlook how much of our resources are taken from our core mission in these efforts.

My suggestion to the new board is that they elect a chair who isn't afraid to take on the MNEA and move this process along in a much more professional and efficient manner.

Note: Both of the teachers charged for dismissal this year were from my District 5. If I had more time on the board I'd investigate whether District 5 has become a dumping ground for difficult teachers.

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