A Different (and Less Effective) Way of Doing Business
I share Julia Steiny’s aversion to teacher “bumping,” of course, but her weekend column brings out the downright philosophical difference that exists in public education, as distinct from private-sector work:
A single regulation from the state, effective the moment each contract expires, would allow schools to get the best teachers they can, when vacancies occur.
But that leaves the problem of displaced, or “excessed” teachers.
Cohen believes that “If teachers don’t find a position after a year, they should be cut. Chicago and Austin have negotiated contracts that say that after a year, you’re dismissed from the system.”
Hmmm. That’s a bit harsh. I might give them two or three years, so the time is limited, but enough to burnish their credentials or skills if need be. In the meantime, they could have a permanent substitute position at one school, two at the most, where they can be a member of a school community, instead of floating among schools where they can’t integrate into a school culture, or be properly evaluated.
For folks who live their professional lives out from under the government wing, the entire discussion seems other worldly. A professional is hired to do a particular job, not to be a part of a system. It changes the relationship between employer and employee entirely. The public education system is having enough trouble teaching students what they need to know to be successful in life without undertaking the additional mission of coddling adults.
If teachers are “excessed,” it means one of two things. Either the specific district of which they were a part had no opening for their talents, in which case, their experience should help them to find another job. (And shouldn’t job placement be their union’s role, not the the system’s?) Or they weren’t up to the task that they were hired to perform, in which case, both they and the students are best served by the application of maximum incentive to improve or to find a more suitable area of focus or even a more suitable career.
It is, of course, in any organization’s interest to foster among its employees a sense of belonging, and that cannot be accomplished if it is unwilling to expend reasonable effort to find mutually beneficial positions for those who’ve already been hired. Such decisions can only be made on a case-by-case basis, and any systemic effort to influence the outcome beyond the motivation for success is counterproductive.