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In California, Bad Teachers Just Can't Be Fired

Original post made by Scared for our Kids, College Terrace, on May 2, 2009

I really think we should all be aware of what our kids could be facing, yes, even here in Palo Alto.

This is six pages of very scary reading, but you might want to check it out.

Web Link

Comments (26)

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 3, 2009 at 8:09 am

Yeah, the weirdest thing is that "coaching" or "re-training" would magically improve someone blatantly wrong for the job of teacher. It sure is different from the business world...


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Posted by pa parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2009 at 9:41 am

Same is true for principals and adminsitrators, actually. They seem to be chastized by retention at worst, often promotion. It happens every year. Happening today. Depressing.


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Posted by wrong
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 3, 2009 at 10:18 am

Principals and administrators are on one year contracts, no matter how long they have been in the district.


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Posted by wrong is right
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 3, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Joe DiSalvo's departure at JLS should certainly refute your claim, pa parent.

Now, are administrators properly prepared for this jobs? Is there any kind of mentoring or development? Not clear....


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Posted by pa parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Actually, Joe diSalvo's departure aboslutely proves my point. He was agreat principal -- gone. Politics. Several people who have had more chances than the day is long are still around, either transferred and promoted or coached and retained with NO followup as to whether the coaching is successful.


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Posted by Questions
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 4, 2009 at 11:37 am

Does anyone know how many PAUSD teachers have been fired over the last 5 years?


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Posted by Anecdote
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 4, 2009 at 5:49 pm

I know of at least one long-serving 6th grade teacher at Jordan who is completely incompetent with respect to teaching science and math.

Although many parents have complained, the principal has offered nothing but a tacit nod of agreement. Transfers out of the classroom were discussed earlier in the year, but there was a fear of starting a rush for the exits.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 4, 2009 at 6:51 pm

There are unfortunately teachers throughout the district - including the above mentioned math teacher at Jordan - who range from uncaring to incompetent to plain old mean. And there is virtually nothing we can do about aside from changing the whole tenure system. I personally believe that one reason charters are more successful is the lack of teacher's unions.


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Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 4, 2009 at 7:13 pm

If you actually want to do something about it. Put the teachers name in this thread.


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Posted by wrong
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 4, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Charters have nothing to do with it. Every school district suffers from a few weak teachers. PAUSD is no different.

About administrators, DiSalvo was not a great principal. Ask any JLS staff member what they thought about DiSalvo.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2009 at 1:43 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Tenure was a big mistake for teachers and judges. Everyone needs to be held to account. Absolute tenure corrupts absolutely?


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Posted by Former JLS parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 5, 2009 at 10:45 am

DiSalvo was a great principal. Ask any JLS parent from his years there what they thought about DiSalvo.

Palo Alto mom, you are so right. The same bad teachers are there year after year and the district cannot get rid of them. You were talking about Jordan but there were a couple at JLS as well. It hurts the kids, but it also hurts the reputation of our schools.


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Posted by Big Al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Expose the incompetent teachers who are wasting the childrens time and
who are also wasting our tax dollars!


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 5, 2009 at 3:13 pm

The root of this problem is that the teachers' employment is all geared to terms that protect the job, income and benefits of the teachers and the power of their union.

The basic requirement that they must perform as competent teachers in the classroom is at best a very poor afterthought. What's amazing is that the large number of very good teachers don't try to change this dynamic. I sense that good ones must still outnumber the bad ones by a pretty decent margin (at least for now) and so should have a chance to force change.


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Posted by Horse's mouth
a resident of Barron Park
on May 5, 2009 at 3:32 pm

The real underlying problem is the poor wages teachers are paid. Without tenure, no one would be voluntarily choose to become a teacher.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 5, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Horse
Just not true. That is what the union wants you to believe.

California teachers make more (even when adjusted for inflation) than any other teachers in the US. The reference to this statistic is in a post above.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 5, 2009 at 4:51 pm

The reference for salaries by state was not on this post.

Here it is:

Web Link


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Posted by wrong
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 5, 2009 at 5:50 pm

"Posted by Former JLS parent, a member of the Gunn High School community, 6 hours ago

DiSalvo was a great principal. Ask any JLS parent from his years there what they thought about DiSalvo."


So you value parents getting their way as more important than working with your staff to set up curriculum and educating our children?

I'm a former JLS parent that disagrees with you 100%. Through my friendships with my daughter's teachers, I can say that you have very limited information on what was really going on at JLS during those years.


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Posted by cblasey
a resident of College Terrace
on May 5, 2009 at 6:13 pm

An exceptional teacher was let go from Escondido this year. 17/20 families formally objected. We received the "I am the Decider" speech from the principal, and were told that there is nothing that we can do. A great loss to the school and to the Spanish Immersion program.


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Posted by A Palo Alto parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 5, 2009 at 7:47 pm

My child and many others had a teacher at Duveneck several years ago who was not just incompetent and mean, she was crazy. It took obvious and egregiously bad behavior and outright child abuse before the superintendent finally stepped in and offered her early retirement. Many children were traumatized by her.


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Posted by ?
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 5, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Did the teacher at Esconido have tenure?


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Posted by cblasey
a resident of Stanford
on May 6, 2009 at 9:27 am

Dear ?,

No, she did not have tenure. It is very unfortunate that someone who has done an exceptional job has been let go. Parents who are fluent in the Spanish assist everday in the classroom, and all were shocked. We were told that it didn't have anything to do with what happens in the classroom (?)
Many of us are trying to figure out a way to help and to prevent this from happening again, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Thank you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Horse's mouth
a resident of Barron Park
on May 6, 2009 at 10:52 am

Mike,

"California teachers make more (even when adjusted for inflation) than any other teachers in the US." Irrelevant. First, it costs more to live here. Second, just because others are more poorly paid, doesn't mean teachers here are well-paid.

The underlying problem is the poor wages. Without tenure, no one would be voluntarily choose to become a teacher.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by aszmaster
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 6, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Unions have too much power, especially the teachers unions. But there is nothing we can do about it, so we are doomed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rubber Room
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 6, 2009 at 9:51 pm

This American Life did a show about NY school district's rubber room:
Web Link


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Posted by Ron
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 6, 2009 at 10:14 pm

Special interest controls our state government - in this case teachers union - the state then passed laws that are in favor of the union/teachers and not in the interest of students. Then local districts have to deal with those laws - which make in almost impossible to fire a teacher and at a cost that can be over 200,000.


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