Number 3: Great news: Underperforming math teacher … transferred to another school

Victor Joecks

In the spirit of the 12 Days of Christmas, I’m going to be listing my 12 favorite Write on Nevada posts from 2011. We’ll be counting down the top five this week. We love to get your feedback, so please leave your thoughts in the comments. Here’s number 3.


Thoughts on this post: Often a story is more powerful than any number or set of statistics. This is one of those stories.

Great news: Underperforming math teacher … transferred to another school

Dave Berns with the Las Vegas Sun has been writing a series of articles on Chaparral High School. Included in Berns’ most recent article was a perfect example of why school must be allowed to fire bad teachers.

Chaparral High School Principal David Wilson refers to math as “the gatekeeper” that determines the success or failure of high school and college students. Those who pass will move on. Those who don’t will fail and may be “absolutely, positively” sentenced to a lifetime of weak professional and earnings prospects. Students will have five opportunities to pass the exam. …

The academic and professional stakes are high, and Wilson has pushed the transfer of at least one math teacher since the start of the school year after he concluded that the educator was not able to adequately meet the academic needs of students. [Emphasis added]

So a math teacher isn’t able to “meet the academic needs of students” at Chaparral and what happens – instead of being fired, like would happen to individuals in the private sector – he or she gets sent to another school where, presumably, he or she will continue to not adequately “meet the academic needs of students.”

This is outrageous!

Unfortunately, it’s also not a one-time occurrence and isn’t unique to Nevada. Here’s how the movie “Waiting for Superman” describes the “dance of the lemons.”

This is why it’s so important that schools be allowed to fire bad teachers – the learning of students, including your kids and grandkids, is at stake. And while lawmakers made minor reforms during the 2011 Legislative Session – schools can now fire a bad teacher after three years of poor performance – that’s of little comfort to the neighbor kid down the street, who needs an excellent teacher right now, not in three years. (And given the power of the union representing underperforming teachers, it’s doubtful how many underperforming teachers will actually be removed.)

Nevada’s children deserve better than lemons. To ensure the best educators are teaching our children, teacher tenure should be eliminated.