A four-word plan to fix America’s public schools
A California judge recently ruled that the state’s tenure, dismissal, and layoff rules for public-school teachers lead to “grossly ineffective teachers” being retained in the classroom, producing instruction so inadequate for poor and minority students as to be considered unconstitutional. Los Angeles County judge Rolf M. Treu’s ruling surely will be contested, and it is an open question how constitutional equal-protection clauses should be applied to school-personnel issues. But the ruling does raise important questions regarding the role that the firing of teachers should play in improving public education.
It’s been 30 years since the landmark report “A Nation at Risk” highlighted the dire state of America’s public schools. Since that time, education has undergone a series of supposed reforms, including massively increased spending, smaller classrooms, and higher pay for teachers with accreditation or master’s degrees. The number of students is barely greater today than it was in 1983, but there’s been a 57 percent increase in the number of school employees and a 40 percent rise in real per-employee compensation. The list of smaller-scale reforms would cover pages.