Thursday, March 13, 2008

Don't Just Sit There....Fire somebody !

David Adams at the Bluegrass Institute reported yesterday on an anti-union group that is offering to "pay the ten worst union-protected teachers in America $10,000 apiece to get out of the classroom - for good."

The Center for Union Facts presents state data on union activity, including financial resources, but focuses on the percentage of teachers fired by the states - as some magically omniscient measure of teacher quality.

The logic is - private school teachers are better because more of them get fired.

David would have to tell us how many folks at BGI were fired last year - but I'm not sure how that would relate to the quality of their work anyway.

This is clearly a cynical gimmick designed to ramp up anti-public school sentiment.

But having said that...there certainly are times when bad teachers have either been protected directly by unions or indirectly by union-won protections. Unions were the result of management abuses and they serve a useful purpose. Teacher tenure is not a bad thing...except that... sometimes it is.

Take for example a developing case out of northern Kentucky. The Cincinnati Enquirer has been reporting on a middle school music teacher who apparently has had inappropriate feelings for some of his female students.

A teenage girl at Holmes Junior/Senior High School said James Chase, then a music teacher there, was "making her feel uncomfortable."

She told a teacher that Chase had called her a "sexy lady" in December 2006, and that he entered the choir room at Holmes and put his arm around her on Jan. 11, 2007.

The teacher reported the two incidents to school and district officials the next day. They notified the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, as required by state law and district policy.

State officials declined to pursue action against Chase saying the complaint was a "school issue."

But as things sometimes happen, it was not the union, but the girls parents who complained that the issue had been "blown out of proportion" and they declined to assist the district's investigation. Chase was directed to stay away from the girl but received no reprimand.

Because Chase was tenured, when Holmes needed to reduce a music teacher, instead of being released, Chase was transferred to Two Rivers Middle School.

Since then it turns out,

Chase was arrested Monday ...following a four-month investigation into his alleged ties to a pornographic Web site. Police say they discovered hundreds of pornographic pictures of children ranging in age from toddler to 10 years old...

...He has been suspended without pay pending an investigation into the allegations against him by the school district. His salary is approximately $62,600.

Tenure, and transfer policies are designed for the reasonable protection of teachers who deserve that protection. But the unanticipated consequences usually include problem teachers being passed from school to school - an age-old practice known among school principals as "pass the trash."

Photo by Patrick Reddy at the Enquirer:
James Chase appeared before district judge Doug Grothaus on Wednesday via video link from the Kenton County Jail. Chase, a music teacher at Two Rivers Middle School, and choir director at Holmes for two decades, faces child-pornography charges. His attorney sought a continuance until Friday.

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