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Union allowing ineffective teachers to be fired in New Haven district

May 11, 2013 by

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Tougher teacher evaluations are yielding impressive results for Connecticut’s third-largest school district.

Since 2010, New Haven Public Schools’ 1,865 teachers have had their job performance linked, in part, to student achievement. As a result of those higher standards, the performance of 62 teachers has been found lacking, and they’ve been removed from the classroom.

That’s a good story by itself, but there’s a surprising twist: The New Haven Federation of Teachers – the local teachers union – “didn’t fight to reinstate any” of the 62 teachers, even those who had tenure, reports Businessweek.

NHFT President David Cicarella told Businessweek that when members complain about the union not standing by them, he reminds them that they agreed to the tougher evaluations when they ratified the teachers’ contract.

“I understand this is our livelihood,” Cicarella said. “We’ve got to protect our wages and benefits. There is always going to be that part of it. I get that. But we’re not dockworkers. We’ve got kids here that we’re responsible for.”

We’d argue that the union’s responsibility to protect students extends to the financial realm as well, but we’re still glad to see that NHFT leaders understand that removing ineffective teachers from the classroom is really a moral issue.

The students’ right to a quality education trumps any teacher’s so-called right to lifetime employment.

As part of the deal for getting the union to agree to the tougher evaluations, principals are also judged by similar standards. That’s led to the ouster of seven building leaders since 2011, Businessweek reports.

The rest of New Haven’s teachers and principals have responded to the increased expectations by stepping up their game. Proof of that is found in the district’s graduation rate (up 13 percent since 2009, the year before the new contract took effect) and students’ state tests scores.

“The number of New Haven students whose scores have met or exceeded the goals on state tests has risen from 31 percent in 2009 to 54 percent last year,” Businessweek reports.

It appears that the adults in charge of the New Haven school district are beginning to understand that schools exist to serve children. While there are still a lot of improvements that need to occur within the district, instilling a new perspective among school employees is a pretty good start.

Union allowing ineffective teachers to be fired in New Haven district – :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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