The practical result of tenure for high school and elementary teachers was New York City’s notorious “rubber rooms.” Low-quality teachers and those accused of sexual harassment or other offenses received full salary and spent years reporting to “rubber rooms” where they waited for their cases to be reviewed. Such is the nature of the bureaucracy constructed by teacher union contracts. It’s far easier for administrators to just tolerate their poor teachers than to go to the trouble of trying to terminate them.
The issue was most memorably illustrated in the hit documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman’” in a sequence called “the dance of the lemons”:
“Waiting for ‘Superman’” was praised by conservatives but it was made by Davis Guggenheim, the left-leaning director of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.
Other leftists who are not in a position to suffer any real consequences for saying so have also admitted this is a problem. MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, perhaps the network’s most devoted union supporter, wrote in his 2010 book Killer Politics:
Every school has a teacher who cannot teach but who keeps hanging on because no one has the guts to deal with the issue. By and large, I support teachers union, but let’s get real. Not every teacher is competent or worth defending. The stakes are too high to allow inept teachers to retain their positions. For children, these years from elementary school through high school are their only chance to learn to read and write.
There’s no war on teachers, only a war on the bad teachers who are ruining children’s lives. Damon is right that teachers should have higher salaries. The reason they do not is union contracts that do not allow merit pay. It’s very simple: fire the bottom 10% of teachers and redirect their salaries toward increasing the income and benefits of the top 30%. This will motivate slacker teachers to shape up, and give star teachers the reward they deserve. There will be higher levels of achievement among students and no need to hit up the taxpayer for more money. Everyone wins – except the teachers unions which will no longer be able to bring in as much money to donate to Democrats.
See Andrew Klavan demonstrate this last point as only he can:
Seeing artists as talented as Damon who are duped into supporting a system which ruins kids’ lives brings to mind another quote from “Good Will Hunting,” this time from the brilliant mathematician who discovered the misguided, self-destructive prodigy:
Sometimes I wish I had never met you. Because then I could go to sleep at night not knowing there was someone like you out there.
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