Putting a man on the moon, solving Fermat's Last Theorem, or firing a tenured teacher because of incompetence or even criminal behaviors: which is harder?
While most teachers are good, decent people with the thankless jobs of teaching unruly kids with dwindling resources and ever-increasing class sizes, there are a few bad apples that really ruined school for a lot of children. But why is it so difficult to fire them?
Jason Song of the Los Angeles Times investigates:
Joseph Walker, a former principal of Grant High School in Van Nuys, was sued by a special education teacher whom he tried to dismiss for alleged repeated sexual harassment. A civil jury sided with Walker -- but the review commission decided the teacher shouldn't be fired. The case, now in the courts, has dragged on seven years.
Confronting uphill battles like this, Walker said: "You're not going to fire someone who's not doing their job. And if you have someone who's done something really egregious, there's only a 50-50 chance that you can fire them."
Walker is now principal of Discovery Charter Preparatory Academy in Pacoima, where he said he had fired three teachers so far this year. None were fired during his three years as head of Grant. The difference: His school's teachers are not unionized and can be fired at will.
(Photo: Joseph Walker. Photo credit: Liz O. Baylen / LA Times)