DID you know that in the United Kingdom (UK), only 18 teachers have been sacked for incompetence over the past 40 years?
The under-performing teachers, instead of being removed from the system, are “recycled” by head teachers.
The scandal uncovered by the BBC’s (British Broadcasting Association) Panorama in July has sparked a heated debate on the hiring and retention system of teachers in the UK.
In what is said to be a common practice in the teaching community, the ineffective teachers are merely transferred from one school to another when they are found to be incapable of teaching.
It is further fuelled by the loophole in the employment system which allows incompetent teachers to continue teaching in schools without being penalised.
Panorama also uncovered evidence that some under-performing teachers agreed to be transferred to another school so long as they were given a positive reference in their work record.
Who is paying the price when a failing system is protecting the “bad” teachers? The children, unfortunately.
But more educators and policymakers begin to see this as a serious issue and that teacher quality is crucial in student learning.
This can be seen in the latest developments in New York, the United States (US).
Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced at the Urban Education Summit at Columbia University that he would soon unveil his overhaul plan of how New York City teachers earn tenure.
He said teachers would have to work to receive tenure.
In the US, the tenure rules for K-12 (kindergarten, primary and secondary schools) teachers vary from state to state.
According to an Associated Press report, some tenures give “no stronger protection than job security laws that prevent people from being fired without cause”.
But a number of states have taken the move to re-examine the tenure system of how tenure is awarded.
States like California, Florida and Colorado have passed or have proposed legislation to change tenure laws to remove ineffective and incompetent teachers.
The desire of securing some funding under President Obama’s educational initiative “Race to the Top” programme was said to be the motivation behind the change in rule and attitude of those states.
Teachers in Asia also enjoy high job security.
In a report titled Preparing teachers around the world by Educational Testing Service (ETS), traditionally, teachers in Singapore and Korea are granted tenure once he or she is hired.
It is is because their entry requirements are usually high and therefore only qualified ones make it through.
In the Netherlands, the ETS report states that new teachers normally have to work part-time or as relief teachers before they can get a permanent position.