May 13, 2013
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Admit it: No one has any idea what's going on
April 22, 2013
US man departing country arrested on terror charges
An unorthodox but growing treatment in a 9-year-old's battle against cancer
April 19, 2013
Caroline B. Glick:
Why Obama's visit to Israel had no impact on public opinion or government policy
Gold collapse: The start of something big?
Livable super-Earths? Two candidates among Kepler's latest finds
April 17, 2013
Too much of a good thing? 'Palestinians' realize downside of foreign aid boom
BAD NEWS: EVERYONE IS RIGHT!
April 15, 2013
Egyptian Christians respond with harsh words to attack -- rocks, Molotov cocktails, and gunfire -- against main cathedral
Marcy Darnovsky and Karuna Jaggar:
High Court to decide if you should own your DNA
US bracing for more Russian blowback after taking action against 18 more human rights violators
April 12, 2013
New cybersecurity bill: Privacy threat or crucial band-aid?
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom:
The Kosher Gourmet by Susan Russo:
Jackie Robinson's Friend, Hank Greenberg; CNN's Jake Tapper; Texas County in the News is named for 19thC. Jewish soldier and Congressman
FRUITY QUINOA STUFFED PEPPERS: A flavorful, colorful and edible vessel of delicately fluffy, mildly nutty filling combined with chewy apricots, tangy cherries, and crunchy pistachios
April 10, 2013
North Korean missiles: Could US shoot them down?
Warning: Don't waste your capital being fooled by profit prophets
Donald Hensrud, M.D.:
Mayo Clinic Medical Edge: Take vitamin supplements with caution --- even approved, they may actually do damage
74 DNA discoveries move cure closer for three cancers
April 8, 2013
Jonathan Tobin: What Part of No Preconditions Do American Jews Not Get?
Is Putin finally trading his own party for a new power base?
Jewish World Review
March 23, 2012/ 296 Adar, 5772
It Does Matter How You Vote
A recent weeknight found me among a group of about a dozen unhappy parents meeting with the principal of our kids' high school. The issue: An incompetent teacher who we had been promised would not be returning to the school had shown up unexpectedly, and an administrator had told the students that he might indeed be returning in September.
Parents expressed dismay and frustration. The principal was guarded. There was much he could not say for legal reasons, he explained. In the course of a long and often tense discussion, a number of the parents made the point that if an employee in the private sector had engaged in the behavior that this teacher had, he would be gone in a flash. But when it comes to teachers — those critical figures in our children's lives — it requires a minimum of three years to remove someone ... if you're lucky.
John Stossel, writing in Reason magazine, detailed the case of a New York teacher who sent sexually explicit emails to a 16-year-old student. It took six years and plenty of expensive litigation to fire him, though the school had possession of the emails, and the teacher admitted sending them.
As Stossel observes, faced with the bureaucratic maze they must navigate to fire a bad teacher, most principals don't even try. They attempt to sucker another school into taking the incompetent ("the dance of the lemons") or they put the bad teachers in "pretend work" jobs, where they continue, of course, to collect full salaries and benefits. Between 2005 and 2008, Newsweek reported, the public school systems of Chicago and Akron, Ohio, fired the same percentage of teachers: .01 percent. The Denver and Toledo systems didn't fire any.
Confronting such a Kafkaesque system (Bill Bennett dubbed it "the blob") most parents shrink away feeling deflated and helpless.
Such is union power.
No one mentioned it, but as we were gnashing our teeth about the difficulty of removing bad teachers from the public school system, the Virginia legislature was voting on a measure that would have brought decisive change to our system — the elimination of teacher tenure.
Virginia doesn't call its system of job security "tenure," but after just three years of teaching, a teacher gets a "continuing contract," which amounts to the same thing. By contrast, university professors typically don't get tenure until they've been on the job for seven years. And even then, only a minority gets it. Many college instructors are not tenured faculty.
Do you have life tenure in your job? Unless you are one of the above mentioned professors, a federal judge or a public school teacher, the answer is almost certainly no. So why do teachers have it? Whose interests does it serve other than the teachers'? It permits sloth and incompetence. Can you keep your job without reference to how well you perform it? Tenure insulates teachers from accountability. The unions really put one over on the public. Is it hopeless?
People who want to seem sophisticated affect a jaded view of politicians and political life. If you say that all politicians are crooks and that the difference between Republicans and Democrats is Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, you will get energetic agreement. But here is a case in which electing a Republican governor and a Republican legislature really might have begun to release Virginia's schools from the iron grip of the teachers' unions.
Gov. Robert McDonnell introduced legislation that would have replaced the "continuing contracts" with three-year contracts. At the end of a teacher's contract period, a principal could choose not to renew the contract for any reason, giving principals in Virginia real power to shape their faculties for the first time.
The bill passed the Republican-controlled House of Delegates, but when it reached the Senate, three Republicans joined all 20 Democrats to kill the measure. "This bill does nothing but kick teachers in the teeth," explained Sen. Phillip Puckett, a Democrat. Delegate Richard Bell, a Republican, saw it differently. "If we always do what we've always done," he told the Washington Post, "then we'll always get what we've always gotten."
If the citizens of Virginia had elected just a handful more Republicans, their majority would have been large enough to survive the defections and implement tangible reform. I wonder how many of the parents who were at that meeting — seething about the problem teacher and the clotted system that makes it so hard to get rid of him — voted Democrat.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment on JWR contributor Mona Charen's column by clicking here.
Mona Charen Archives
© 2006, Creators Syndicate
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Frank J. Gaffney
Victor Davis Hanson
A. Barton Hinkle
Judge A. Napolitano
Cokie & Steve Roberts
Debra J. Saunders
J. D. Crowe
Ask Doctor K