Teacher with bad logic doesn’t mean all teachers have bad logic

Victor Joecks

There’s been a lot of attention focused recently on the need to fire bad teachers. That this is a controversial statement is pretty amazing, but such is the power of the union bosses of the Nevada State Education Association and its county-based affiliates.

In a recent letter to the editor in the Las Vegas Sun, CCSD teacher Jeremy M. Christensen started his letter with this.

We must fire bad teachers. Taxpayers good, teachers bad.

Wait … what? How does that make any sense? It doesn’t of course. This would be like saying teacher Jeremy M. Christensen uses faulty logic; therefore all teachers use bad logic.

Both are non sequiturs.

Christensen continues:

Clark County has some of the largest class sizes in nation, with some of least involved parents and most transient families. Is it safe to assume that if you increase the workload on any employee that at some point that employee’s effectiveness would decline? Can a doctor cure 200 patients in a day? Can a teacher change the lives of 180 students in day? … Some of my students have been accepted to Yale, Stanford, Northwestern, UCLA and many other fine universities this year because they are good students; some of them have good parents and all of them had some good teachers. Congratulations to them and their families and their school.

No one is going to deny that there are many factors in a student’s achievement that a school can’t control – wealth or poverty of a student’s family, parental involvement, if English is their first or second language or even a student’s motivation.

But there are also many factors a school can control and of those factors, teacher quality is single the most important one. As Nevada’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James W. Guthrie notes, “Terminating the lowest five percent of ineffective teachers and replacing them with teachers who are only average in effectiveness would of itself elevate U.S. achievement to among the highest in the industrial world.”

That’s why teacher quality is so important. And pointing that out doesn’t mean you think all teachers are bad – it’s precisely because we know how important good teachers are to your children that we must work so hard to remove or improve the ineffective ones.