Lack of student achievement has little to do with teachers or principals and everything to do with the top leadership. That leadership starts with the school board and superintendent. Without a coherent plan and vision, teachers and students are doomed to meander along with, hopefully, some success.
Teachers in the Clark County School District have a tremendously important and difficult job. Anyone who thinks they are paid too much should consider: Teachers work a full day, then go home to grade papers and prepare for the next day’s instruction; summers are spent preparing for the coming year; many add a part-time job to make ends meet. A relative of mine works 60-hour weeks as a teacher in CCSD. In her fourth year, her salary is $45,000. The teachers union has not secured a vast overpayment for hard-working teachers.
It’s commonly argued that it is impossible to remove poor-performing teachers in a unionized state. That is untrue. However, you must have an established protocol to follow when doing so, and this is where the top leadership comes in. If you don’t set expectations from the top, and train your administration how to properly remove poor teachers, it simply doesn’t happen. However, we should be driven to make sure we have provided the necessary support our teachers need to be successful.
A partnership between CCSD and the teachers union is much more productive than an adversarial relationship. They won’t always agree, but when people look at the success or failure of any school or school district, don’t start with teachers, but with the leadership.
Freeman is superintendent of the Fox Chapel Area School District in Pittsburgh, Pa.