Supporting Bad Teachers

By Bryan Toporek — October 20, 2009 1 min read
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NYC teacher Ariel Sacks describes the awkward situation of working alongside colleagues from the city’s Absent Teacher Reserve, tenured teachers who have been “excessed” from their positions and have now been placed in other schools. It’s not exactly a win-win situation:

These three teachers, all middle aged, have 10-15 years of experience and get paid much more than I do. However, they do not want to be at my school, and they know they are not wanted either. In the classroom, they behave like incompetent substitutes. No order, no real planning, no real teaching. Some have been rude to students on occasion. Students get rude right back to them (and you know how middle schoolers can be when they feel disrespected). It's not good.

Witnessing this sad spectacle, Sacks wonders how the teachers got to this point--and about an organizational system that seems to have both ruined and protected their careers.

But who is responsible for these ATR's apparent low ability to teach? Look at the environment they must be coming from. Is it their fault they were teaching under horrible conditions and probably received no support? And, although I believe principals need a real reason to fire a teacher, perhaps the union is at fault when the process for firing inept teachers takes years. Kids lose out during those years. And which principal gave these teachers tenure so many years ago? Were they different teachers back then?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.