Last week, I showed how an anti-union group's shady statistics don't support its own teacher-hating thesis that unions make it harder to fire bad teachers. Dr. Newquist responded with a blistering assault on those shady stats themselves. He finds Teachers Union Exposed's purported sources mistagged and fraudulent. He then argues quite colorfully that even if TUE had verifiable sources, their numbers on teacher firing rates wouldn't tell us much about teacher quality:
There are problems with such statistics. Not the least of which is that the firing rate is used by the uninformed as an indicator of the quality of teaching in the systems. Most teachers who are fired outright are done so because of gross misconduct, such as having sex with students. In many, many cases the teachers who like to get naked and otherwise chummy with students are rated as very effective at teaching. There is no correlation between effective teaching and f***ing students, so that the firing rate is a false indicator of whether young minds or young genitalia are being stimulated [David Newquist, "Those Jesus Christ Moments and Phony Data," Northern Valley Beacon, 2012.04.05].
Whether we're talking sleazebags or simple laggards, the due process rights for teachers that our state wants to eliminate with HB 1234 do not prohibit schools from getting rid of bad teachers. Conservative writer and teacher Mike McDaniel bashes unions, but even he agrees that continuing contract rights are not part of the problem in recruiting quality teachers:
For teachers, earning "continuing contract" status after three years of probation means only that instead of having no reason to fire them, a principal must have some reason, and if they disagree, they have a right to have his decision reviewed in some fashion. This does not, for a moment, mean that they will win a review, or that a principal's reason for firing them must be particularly rational. In fact, such systems are commonly biased in favor of school principals and administrators, and only the most egregious lack of judgement or misbehavior on their part will allow teachers to prevail. This reality, for millions of American teachers, does not sound like the job for life situation suggested by Mrs. Charen, does it? I have never worked under any other, and millions of American teachers are in the same boat.
...Giving principals unlimited power to fire teachers, competent or incompetent, for any or no reason, is as likely to cause schools to be filled with incompetent, corrupt cronies of corrupt, unprofessional principals as highly professional educators. The problem is teacher unions and those that abet them, not the kinds of minimal working conditions and due process reviews that help to encourage idealistic young people to spend huge amounts of money and many years in college and after to earn far less than their degrees can elsewhere command [Mike McDaniel, "Education: The Inability to Fire Incompetent Teachers: Whose Fault?" Stately McDaniel Manor, 2012.03.27].
The minimal labor protections South Dakota teachers enjoy, from their union and from current statute, do not hurt teaching quality. In the case of continuing contract, our labor protections improve teacher quality.
Bonus Conservative Support for Madville Times Party Line: Hard-working teacher McDaniel also opposes merit pay as unworkable.