Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Why Does It Take a Team of Lawyers to Get Rid of Bad NYC Teachers?

The union’s absurd tenure rules.

As New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein wrote in a letter to principals, “in a typical year only about one-hundredth of 1 percent of tenured teachers are removed for ineffective performance.” Under New York’s tenure rules — safeguarded by the district’s contract with the United Federation of Teachers and by state law practically written by labor unions — it is more or less impossible to get rid of a bad tenured teacher, as this firing chart from Common Good graphically illustrates. The administrative burden is simply too great, as the Manhattan Institute reports:

The greatest problem appears to be the time required to carry out frequent classroom observations and document teachers’ failings. As one principal flatly stated: “You cannot go after more than one or two teachers at once. There simply isn’t time.”

So a new team of consultants is being hired to help struggling teachers to improve and to help build cases against teachers who can’t or won’t. Another new team of lawyers will help bring cases against tenured teachers facing termination.

UFT president Randi Weingarten called the announcement “disgusting.” But why is she so shocked? Her union is the one demanding that schools act like the criminal justice system, with teachers given “due process” rights against termination. Any justice system has to have prosecutors — or else the people (on whose behalf the system prosecutes cases) are denied their due process rights. Or is due process only for one side?

Categories: Teachers Unions