This is C-J:
I am writing in response to your recent editorial, "It's about the kids," dealing with the arbitrary termination of many beginning teachers in JCPS. I agree with the title of the editorial, but strongly disagree with its content.
Early in my career, I taught with an excellent second-year English teacher at one of our JCPS high schools. A number of my students at the time described him as the best teacher they ever had. Due to a personality conflict with the principal having nothing to do with the teacher's performance, the principal placed this English teacher on notice of "significant deficiency." This set in motion a procedure, required by the labor contract and by school board policy, in which he was notified of the specific deficiencies he needed to address and was given 12 weeks to do so with assistance from appropriate district personnel.
To make a long story short, because other district personnel found the teacher to be effective, the principal removed the teacher from the deficiency process. The teacher transferred to a different high school, where he still teaches and has been elected by his peers to be English department chair each year. He works well with the principal and parents, presents professional development for other teachers across the district, and students continue to describe him as the best teacher they have ever had.
If Dr. Sheldon Berman and The Courier Journal's editorial board had their way, this teacher would have been summarily non-renewed back in 1993 without just cause and without a fair process that provided an opportunity to correct (or in his case, dispel the false accusation of) deficiencies. If "it's about the kids," how would depriving 15 years of students of this outstanding teacher be doing the right thing?
The predictable characterization that JCTA is trying to protect "bad" teachers is wrong. We are trying to protect a fair process that eliminates ineffective teachers while protecting good teachers from "bad" administrators. Think for a moment about your favorite teacher. Wouldn't you want him or her to be entitled to such a fair process?
Two separate and independent third-party arbitrators hired jointly by JCTA and JCPS, have reviewed the district's actions and have determined that the JCPS administration is violating the contract by not following the significant deficiency process. The district has been ordered by the arbitrators to "cease and desist" in violating this process, but Dr. Berman continues to do so.
A fair process that eliminates ineffective teachers while protecting good teachers from arbitrary termination is truly in the best interest of students, and after all, "it's about the kids."