Rainier Beach school officials allowed to reject bad teachers
On Saturday, Lynne Varner of The Seattle Times wrote an informative editorial about Rainier Beach High, a Seattle school that serves mostly poor and minority students. Varner notes something remarkable:
“Rainier Beach successfully persuaded the Seattle School District to exempt it from forced teacher placements.”
That means officials at Rainier Beach can reject bad teachers sent by the central office; something most other schools in Seattle cannot do. In other schools, bad teachers are sent to the classroom whether local officials think that’s a good idea or not. Once in class, union rules make it extremely difficult to fire a bad teacher.
As Rainier Beach principal Dwayne Chappelle puts it, “We only bring in staff who want to be here.”
Most school principals cannot choose their teachers because seniority assignment rules in union contracts force-place teachers in the schools.
School officials, and perhaps even union executives, must have noticed force-placement of bad teachers was hurting Rainier Beach students. Now, if they could only see that ALL children are hurt by the same policy.
Officials at six other local Seattle schools are similarly allowed to reject bad teachers sent by the District. Known as Creative Approach schools, they are Cleveland High, Hawthorne Elementary, Nova High School/The Nova Project, Queen Anne Elementary, Thornton Creek Elementary, and Seattle World School. So that makes seven schools where local officials can keep bad teachers from wasting children’s learning time.
At the other 90 Seattle schools, the children have no such protection.
Earlier this year the state Senate passed a bill SB 5242, which would have allowed all schools in Washington to turn away bad teachers. But union executives at the powerful WEA stoutly objected and the bill died.
Meanwhile, ensuring high-quality teachers in class is paying off for Rainier Beach students.
The percentage of Rainier Beach students passing state tests has soared by double digits in just one year: 15% increase in math, 22% increase in science, 16% increase in reading and 15% increase in writing. Daily attendance is up and it looks like more students will be graduating on time.
Ending the forced placement of teachers shows respect for parents and for taxpayers who fund our schools. More importantly, screening out bad teachers shows respect for students and promotes equality and social justice, by giving all children a chance to get a good education.
Now, if only the adults in the system, union executives and district administrators, could agree that all students should be protected from bad teachers.