Insight News

Feb 12th

Tough on teachers

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The recent firing of all the teachers at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island by the district superintendent was applauded by both President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Both thought this was the right thing for the students being failed by the teachers and the school. But is it all the teacher’s fault? Should the principals also be held responsible? What about the parents?  After all, it does take a village.

The Center on Education Policy conducted a study last December found that replacing staff helped improve many schools. But the fact is that some schools didn’t improve much. One of the conclusions from this study was that hiring teachers en masse for a school district allowed little time to plan for the school year. Experts conclude that the new school restructuring policy supported by the President need to be supported by research before they are introduced.

Acting out of anger or desperation and firing entire schools worth of teachers may not be the best solution and may, in fact, do more harm in the long run. There is enough research to indicate what works and what doesn’t when it comes to replacing teachers and principals. All must work together to find best solutions.

Indeed, poorly prepared and untrained teachers have a huge impact on student performance. But it is up to the schools that hire them to verify their credentials, to provide training when necessary and to ensure teacher skills are up to date. If schools and school districts don’t invest in teachers, students will never succeed…no matter who is leading the classroom.

All of those who hold a stake in student’s education – parents, teachers, principals and school districts and even teacher’s unions – should work closely together to ensure student’s get what they need. Any steps taken to improve student performance should be a collaborative one, based on factual information and best practices. Our student’s deserve our best efforts, and we should work to give it to them.

Judge Greg Mathis became the youngest judge in Michigan’s history and was elected a Superior Court Judge for Michigan’s 36th District. He has been called upon as a regular contributor to national television programs, including “Larry King Live,” “Politically Incorrect,” CNN's "Talk Back Live,” “Showbiz Tonight” and “Extra” to discuss his opinions on complex issues of the day, such as national security, unique sentencing, affirmative action and celebrity scandals. He also offers his take on high-profile legal cases.

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