Writing in Slate, Brian Palmer asks, “When did it get so hard to fire a teacher?
New Jersey was the first state to adopt tenure, in 1909. There was some value in having tenure, as a way to protect teachers from “flunking the children of powerful parents, holding unpopular views, or simply getting old.” The idea was to promote merit. Unfortunately, tenure has become an obstacle to merit, as hardly ever does a teacher get fired for incompetence.
Palmer (rightly) places some blame on principals, for not giving meaningful evaluations. But then again, why go to the trouble of making a thorough evaluation of an employee if the cost of getting rid of bad apples is hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of legal wrangling?