The Difficulty of Firing Teachers in L.A., or, Hey! Kids! Leave Those Teachers Alone!

The L.A. Times has a lengthy report on the difficulties of firing teachers, due to convoluted processes, endless second-guessing, and powerful unions. Some good details:

....L.A. Unified officials were also unsuccessful in firing a male middle school teacher spotted lying on top of a female colleague in the metal shop, saying the district did not prove that the two were having sex.

The district fared no better in its case against elementary school special education teacher Gloria Hsi, despite allegations that included poor judgment, failing to report child abuse, yelling at and insulting children, planning lessons inadequately and failing to supervise her class.

Not a single charge was upheld. The commission found the school's evaluators were unqualified because they did not have special education training. Moreover, it said they went to the class at especially difficult periods and didn't stay long enough.

The story starts with a tale of a still-teaching teacher who mockingly encouraged a failed suicide among his students to try harder next time. Why is it so hard to fire bad teachers, even when they are hurting the kids they are supposed to serve? "Kathleen Collins, associate general counsel for L.A. Unified, explained it this way: 'Kids don't have a union.'" And: "Jettisoning a teacher solely because he or she can't teach is rare. In 80% of the dismissals that were upheld, classroom performance was not even a factor."

I blogged further on this topic at my "City of Angles" L.A. news and politics blog at KCET.org.

Reason magazine was on the how-hard-it-is-to-fire-teachers story back in an article by John Stossel in our October 2006 issue, focusing on the New York system, and with a great Terry Colon cartoon chart.

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  • ||

    The commission found the school's evaluators were unqualified because they did not have special education training.

    Can't judge a union member if you don't have a union card.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Having seen this from both sides, as a substitute teacher working towards my certificate/masters and as a school board member, I can honestly say the system is a farce that if forced upon a private company would ensure said company's failure. The professors at the college I went to used scare stories and classroom pressure to force students to become members of the NEAA, while simultaneously not a single class was dedicated towards classroom management and behavioral control.

    While on the school board we had a probationary period in which to work before we officially hired and then the new hire had 3 years before being tenured. Once tenured it was very difficult to get rid of a teacher, but at the same time I do believe that the tenure system is needed because of the petty and often personal attacks board and community members often launch against teachers who "mistreat" their children.

    Politics and education are an ugly mix and a better system is needed.

  • Wicks Cherrycoke||

    When I was a young lawyer representing school districts in New Jersey, I came across a case in which a tenure charges against a teacher for inefficiency were dismissed because -- I'm not making this up -- the evidence showed she was incompetent, not inefficient.

  • ||

    Don't be absurd--just have a teenage girl send a semi-nude picture of herself to her friend in the teacher's class, and the teacher will confiscate the friend's phone for her texting in class. Now he/she's in possession of child pornography and you can sic the cops on them.

    See, you just need to think outside the box.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "L.A. Unified officials were also unsuccessful in firing a male middle school teacher spotted lying on top of a female colleague in the metal shop, saying the district did not prove that the two were having sex."

    Big fucking deal. It sounds like no one was able to prove they were screwing. Maybe the dude was just trying to shield her from an oxygen tank he thought was about to explode.

    And even if they were fucking...

    I'm no fan of public schools or teachers unions, but most of the allegations in that article sound very similar to the kind of "wild card" charges that cops come up with. I mean, what is "poor judgement" or "planning lessons inadequately"?

  • ||

    Politics and education are an ugly mix and a better system is needed.

    I have one. It's called vouchers.

  • Hugh Akston||

    'Kids don't have a union.'

    Voucher Movement, I think we have our catchphrase.

  • robc||

    Politics and education are an ugly mix and a better system is needed.

    I have one. It's called vouchers.


    I have a better one. Dont mix politics and education.

  • johnl||

    Even the administrators have a union. http://www.aalausd.org/
    What's wrong with the kids, why don't they form one?

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    Interesting post. Oh well, at least it's good to know that Reason and their friends are helping give those teachers even more power by enabling MassiveImmigration, something that:
    1. Costs billions to the LAUSD alone.
    2. Increases the power base for those teachers and their associates.
    3. Leads to the things that Reason pretends to be against.

    Is Reason working for the LAUSD?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Shut the fuck up LoneWhacko

  • ||

    LONEWHACKO: THE NOVEL

    It's 8PM in LA, and hard boiled private dick Lone "Retardo" Whacko, Jr. is hard at work on a case to expose the corrupt editors of a magazine headquartered 3000 miles east. As he peers thoughtfully into the distance, we see he looks like a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Clyde the orangutan from Every Which Way But Loose.

  • Elemenope||

    Global warming, if LoneWacko believed in it, would have to be caused by MassiveImmigration.

    Wouldn't that make it GlobalWarming? See, it's a MexicanEmbassy plot to destroy the US.

  • Mr. Chartreuse||

    LONEWHACKO: THE NOVEL

    It's 8PM in LA, and hard boiled private dick Lone "Retardo" Whacko, Jr. is hard at work on a case to expose the corrupt editors of a magazine headquartered 3000 miles east. As he peers thoughtfully into the distance, we see he looks like a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Clyde the orangutan from Every Which Way But Loose.


    He took the last puff from his cigarette, threw it to the ground, and snuffs it out with the toe of his Made-in-the-USA black loafer, already looking shabby after a week of use. As he walks back to his one-room apartment he sneers and gestures angrily as he walks past a taco cart. The vendor smiles and offers him a free taco, but LoneWhacko slaps it away and smiles with grim satisfaction as the Mexican treat falls to the asphalt and the shell cracks and breaks.

  • ||

    He took the last puff from his cigarette, threw it to the ground, and snuffs it out with the toe of his Made-in-the-USA black loafer, already looking shabby after a week of use. As he walks back to his one-room apartment he sneers and gestures angrily as he walks past a taco cart. The vendor smiles and offers him a free taco, but LoneWhacko slaps it away and smiles with grim satisfaction as the Mexican treat falls to the asphalt and the shell cracks and breaks.

    He arrives home and notes with displeasure that his apartment, as always, smells of cheap bourbon, American cheese, and impotent rage, but he can only afford Mexican cleaning ladies. He breaks out a package of Mac & Cheese--more expensive than Ramen Noodles, but at least American--and starts the water boiling, while working the facts of the case through his mind again and again. When he takes out the milk for the cheese sauce, he is struck by its sour odor and realizes the Mexicans have soured his milk once again. He falls to the ground, milk sloshing out of the milk jug like blood from a severed artery, as he weeps from the injustice of it all.

  • Hugh Akston||

    i>LONEWHACKO: THE NOVEL

    It's 8PM in LA, and hard boiled private dick Lone "Retardo" Whacko, Jr. is hard at work on a case to expose the corrupt editors of a magazine headquartered 3000 miles east. As he peers thoughtfully into the distance, we see he looks like a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Clyde the orangutan from Every Which Way But Loose.

    He took the last puff from his cigarette, threw it to the ground, and snuffs it out with the toe of his Made-in-the-USA black loafer, already looking shabby after a week of use. As he walks back to his one-room apartment he sneers and gestures angrily as he walks past a taco cart. The vendor smiles and offers him a free taco, but LoneWhacko slaps it away and smiles with grim satisfaction as the Mexican treat falls to the asphalt and the shell cracks and breaks.

    A baby cries down the hall as he shoves the warped door open and then wedges it shut. "Probably an IllegalImmigrant" he thinks, wishing briefly, wistfully there was something he could do to deport them himself. "But I've got a case to crack. Time to take another look at the SuspectList." His eyes move over a cork board covered with internet photos. Nick Gillespie ("Dago"), Vicenté Fox, Cathy Young, Osama bin Laden, Veroniqe De Rugy ("Collaborator"), Barack Hussein Obama, and a weathered byline picture of Tibor Machan. "How does it all connect?"

  • ||

    ....L.A. Unified officials were also unsuccessful in firing a male middle school teacher spotted lying on top of a female colleague in the metal shop, saying the district did not prove that the two were having sex.

    Dude- those metal benches are cold! I just wanted to take a nap. I didn't have a blanket, so I used Miss Lapidarius.

  • ||

    Hugh, we could probably work ours together:

    A baby cries down the hall as he shoves the warped door open and then wedges it shut. "Probably an IllegalImmigrant" he thinks, wishing briefly, wistfully there was something he could do to deport them himself. He notes with displeasure that his apartment, as always, smells of cheap bourbon, American cheese, and impotent rage, but he can only afford Mexican cleaning ladies. He breaks out a package of Mac & Cheese--more expensive than Ramen Noodles, but at least American--and starts the water boiling, while working the facts of the case through his mind again and again. When he takes out the milk for the cheese sauce, he is struck by its sour odor and realizes the Mexicans have soured his milk once again. He falls to the ground, milk sloshing out of the milk jug like blood from a severed artery, as he weeps from the injustice of it all.

    As he recovers himself, his eyes track to the cork board covered with internet photos that he's crudely nailed to the wall. Nick Gillespie ("Dago"), Vicenté Fox, Cathy Young, Osama bin Laden, Veroniqe De Rugy ("Collaborator"), Barack Hussein Obama, and a weathered byline picture of Tibor Machan. "How does it all connect?" he mutters as he slops up the spilled milk with a dirty dishtowel, practically making the mess worse.

  • Rick H.||

    LONEWHACKO: THE NOVEL

    It's 8PM in LA, and hard boiled private dick Lone "Retardo" Whacko, Jr. is hard at work on a case to expose the corrupt editors of a magazine headquartered 3000 miles east. As he peers thoughtfully into the distance, we see he looks like a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Clyde the orangutan from Every Which Way But Loose.

    He {takes] the last puff from his cigarette, [throws] it to the ground, and snuffs it out with the toe of his Made-in-the-USA black loafer, already looking shabby after a week of use. As he walks back to his one-room apartment he sneers and gestures angrily as he walks past a taco cart. The vendor smiles and offers him a free taco, but LoneWhacko slaps it away and smiles with grim satisfaction as the Mexican treat falls to the asphalt and the shell cracks and breaks.

    A baby cries down the hall as he shoves the warped door open and then wedges it shut. "Probably an IllegalImmigrant" he thinks, wishing briefly, wistfully there was something he could do to deport them himself. "But I've got a case to crack. Time to take another look at the SuspectList." His eyes move over a cork board covered with internet photos. Nick Gillespie ("Dago"), Vicenté Fox, Cathy Young, Osama bin Laden, Veroniqe De Rugy ("Collaborator"), Barack Hussein Obama, and a weathered byline picture of Tibor Machan. "How does it all connect?"


    The stifling apartment air assaults Lonewacko's nostrils in a pungent wave as he squeezes around the mountain of Art Bell transcripts and defiantly smashes the power button on his stained, beige computer tower. Now to the website, he thinks, his lips curling in contempt at the idea; stomach grumbling, he drums his pudgy fingers impatiently waiting for AOL to connect. As the modem whirs and bleeps, Lonewacko's brain petulantly formulates new English compound words, and he decides that the acidic burning in his gut must be due to Mexican influence. His chattering phone line begins to resemble the cacophonous rhythms of a mariachi band; Lonewacko reaches for his Walker: Texas Ranger promotional zippo and lights a Virginia Slim 100 with a trembling hand.

  • Mr. Chartreuse||

    A baby cries down the hall as he shoves the warped door open and then wedges it shut. "Probably an IllegalImmigrant" he thinks, wishing briefly, wistfully there was something he could do to deport them himself. He notes with displeasure that his apartment, as always, smells of cheap bourbon, American cheese, and impotent rage, but he can only afford Mexican cleaning ladies. He breaks out a package of Mac & Cheese--more expensive than Ramen Noodles, but at least American--and starts the water boiling, while working the facts of the case through his mind again and again. When he takes out the milk for the cheese sauce, he is struck by its sour odor and realizes the Mexicans have soured his milk once again. He falls to the ground, milk sloshing out of the milk jug like blood from a severed artery, as he weeps from the injustice of it all.

    As he recovers himself, his eyes track to the cork board covered with internet photos that he's crudely nailed to the wall. Nick Gillespie ("Dago"), Vicenté Fox, Cathy Young, Osama bin Laden, Veroniqe De Rugy ("Collaborator"), Barack Hussein Obama, and a weathered byline picture of Tibor Machan. "How does it all connect?" he mutters as he slops up the spilled milk with a dirty dishtowel, practically making the mess worse.


    His mood was becoming as dark as the black stain now covering his floor, the soot from his never washed dishtowel and the milk were mixing to form an opaque ooze that he couldn't seem to cleanse, much like the painful memories he couldn't seem to get rid of. He clenches the dishtowel tighter in his hand and the same black liquid oozes out and drips on the floor, he's thinking about the time he walked into a Mexican grocery by mistake and tried in vain to find a box of Captain Crunch. "I'll make you pay, by God. I'll make you all pay." He says in anger as he throws the dishtowel at Vincente Fox's picture.

  • Rick H.||

    I think I accidentally cut out a piece of Epi's prose back there.

    he mutters as he slops up the spilled milk with a dirty dishtowel, practically making the mess worse.

  • ||

    Whacko thinks back on the events of the night before: the Tijuana donkey show, with its powerful scents and sounds of depravity. Why can he only become excited by the things he most despises? Whacko considers seeking professional help. But no, he'll not go the Tony Soprano route. "Therapy is for wops and wetbacks," he thought. Time to turn his focus to the events at hand, and stop the NAFTASuperHighway before it was too late.

  • ||

    Sticking a fresh tape in his Betamax camcorder, the intrepid journalist double checked the itinerary he had downloaded from the candidate's website earlier that day.`

    He wiped his sweaty palms on his pants, then turned the various knobs of the thirteen locks defending him from the teeming throngs of IllegalAliens.

    "This is the day" he muttered to himself., as he fumbled with the grapefruit-sized ring of keys. "I've got them right where I want them. I'll ask The Question, and EVERYONE will kneel in awe."

    He turned toward the stairs, and as he attempted to juggle the cameras, keys, and various appurtenances of his trade, he stepped awkwardly off the landing. He tried desperately to regain his equilibrium, but to no avail.

    ____

    "Jesus, what a mess," muttered Detective Iglesias. "What was this guy, a fucking junk dealer? Load him up, and get this mess cleaned up. I've got Dodgers tickets."

  • ||

    Suddenly his antiquated phone rings. "Why do you have a rotary phone?", he imagines people would ask him if someone actually ever visited him. His logic is devastatingly simple: you can't press dos for Espanol on a rotary phone.

    He picks up the receiver, hoping that maybe Matt Welch or--hope of hopes, the dreamy Jesse Walker--is calling to answer one of the many questions he has bravely posed on his anonymous website. To his surprise, a clearly cloaked voice asks "is this the Lone Whackoff?"

    A tingle runs down his spine and he says "Mr. Lone 'Whacko' to you, but yes. Who is this?"

    "This is Hugh Jazz. I'm calling with some information you might like, but I can't just come right out and say it--this line may be bugged. Is your refrigerator running?"

  • MNG||

    Hilarious

  • Paul||

    Life and Times of Lonewhacko, Gentlemen.

    Our scene opens, finding our stalwart character, Lonewhacko typing at his keyboard.

    MEXICANS!

    The End

  • ||

    "This is Hugh Jazz. I'm calling with some information you might like, but I can't just come right out and say it--this line may be bugged. Is your refrigerator running?"

    "Of course it is. And with American electricity."

    "Then maybe you should go catch it!"

    Whacko hears a burst of giggles. The phone disconnects and he stares at it.

    "Why?" he wonders aloud, "Why would I have to go catch it? It's setting right here and it's not going anywhere. It can't move on its own."

    Whacko gently begins to urinate himself as he turns back to his computer. He sorts through his notes, always taken in a code no Mexican could crack. The box of evidence is full and he is finally ready. Trembling with excitement, he begins the article that will bury La Raza once and for all:

    The IllegalMexican plot to poison the American food supply with... CUMIN!

    END CHAPTER ONE

  • Abdul||

    The lonewhacko novel is the first collaborative story I've ever read that was worth reading.

  • ||

    ¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

  • Naga Sadow||

    LoneWacko thought on the Cumin connection. Slowly his thoughts drifted to the day when he first discovered the realization of his fears.

    (fades into mental state)

    "Cinco de Mayo. The fifth of May. What could it mean? Really mean?" LoneWacko shivered a little.

    LoneWacko thought distantly on this as he walked by the local Pollo de Loco. A hot bed of IllegalImmigrants and their sympathizers.

    "If only THEY knew he was onto them", LoneWacko said aloud, "The Illegals and their enablers."

    LoneWacko stealthily made his way to the side of the restaurant. Restaurant? Ha! More like an underground railroad of treasonous fools and their MexicanOverlords!

    LoneWacko slowly rose from his crouch and saw . . .

  • ||

    A baby cries down the hall as he shoves the warped door open and then wedges it shut. "Probably an IllegalImmigrant" he thinks,



    It's even worse than an IllegalImmigrantBaby, it's an......AnchorBaby!!!!!

  • ||

    A small, solitary boy hangs on the fence surrounding a playground, gazing morosely through the wire diamonds. Inside, raucous laughter and shrieks of joy ring out. An ecstatic mob of brown children swarms over the grass, hotly contesting possession of a bedraggled soccer ball.

    The ball rolls to the fence in front of him. A pursuing girl stops and looks at him. "Come play with us," she calls, flashing a brilliant joyful smile, white teeth blazingly bright in contrast to her cinnamon-colored cheeks.

    The boy's face flushes a deep, deep red, his ears burn, and terror seizes his gut. He whirls, wordlessly, and sprints away down the empty street.

    As he runs, hot tears stream down his cheeks.

  • Nolan||

    I love it. I'd probably even pay money for it :) I just hope he thinks it's giving him any kind of legitimacy.

    also, as a side note, I think Cilantro would work better than cumin, but that's just me.

  • Nolan||

    hope he DOESN'T think it's giving him any kind of legitimacy."

    that was kind of an important word to leave out. sorry.

  • ||

    Very well done.

  • ||

    *claps*

  • ||

    Best thread in a long time.

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