Check out Andy Rotherham’s editorial in Time, which begins with a well-known quotation: “a lot of people who have been hired as teachers are basically not competent.” Rotherham notes that the “jarring” comment “overstates the problem” of teacher quality, but it’s valuable as “a rare candid statement.” He continues,
How do we figure out which teachers should go? For all their problems, even today’s fledgling efforts at teacher evaluations and using value-added methods to isolate how much students learned over the course of the year can identify the lowest-performers. Removing such teachers would not come close to solving all that ails our schools but would still benefit students nonetheless. Our failure to act more seriously is a failure of politics and leadership. And the politics won’t change until we can at least talk about teacher effectiveness and the broader problems of educational management in an intellectually honest way.
The leader who made the comment at the top of this column? Legendary teachers union leader Al Shanker, the former head of the American Federation of Teachers. It was actually almost three decades ago. Maybe it’s because the stakes are higher today, but we’re arguably getting worse rather than better at talking frankly about teachers.