It’s absurd to believe anyone wants ineffective teachers in any classroom.
So when President Barack Obama, in a speech last fall at Madison’s Wright Middle School, called for “moving bad teachers out of the classroom, once they’ve been given an opportunity to do it right,” the remark drew enormous applause. Such a pledge is integral to the president’s commitment to strengthen public education.
But this part of Obama’s Race to the Top agenda for schools has occasioned much nervousness. Educators and policymakers, school boards and school communities have questions and genuine concern about what it means. What, exactly, is a bad teacher, and how, specifically, do you go about removing him or her from a classroom?
Many other questions follow. Do we have a “bad teacher” problem in Madison? Does the current evaluation system allow Madison to employ teachers who don’t make the grade? Is our system broken and does it need Obama’s fix?
A look into the issue reveals a system that is far from perfect or transparent. But Madison school board President Arlene Silveira agrees it’s an issue that must be addressed.