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MagicalMystery's avatar

Should teachers be fired for poor academic performance by their students?

Asked by MagicalMystery (900points) April 1st, 2010

how much responsibility do you think teachers should take for the academic performance/test performance of their students? do you think teachers should lose their jobs?

In the past few years, in towns and cities across the country, teachers were fired or attempts were made to fire them because of poor performance by their students. The teachers argue, and the arguments are probably at least somewhat justified, that they are battling budget constraints that make teaching tools, books, etc. unavailable, problems in the homes, absenteeism, all kinds of problems where school may be low on the list of priorities for the child, yet the teachers get the brunt of the blame.

I saw a documentary on it (HBO? i don’t have a link), portraying the Baltimore MD school system, showing the administrators going to the kids’ homes to discuss their absenteeism, showing kids cutting class, hanging out in hallways, loitering, showing how the majority of kids that enter 9th grade will drop out, and showing the school administration conducting meetings with the teachers telling them they will be fired if the grades don’t get better. They showed the teachers saying they are up against many obstacles, most are out of their control. They showed Parents’ Night, where each teacher may have 1 or 2 parents show up the entire night. They showed the young, inspired teachers leaving for better school districts. You could see where the apathy, the frustration, the pessimism comes from on the part of the teachers and administration. It seemed like they cared but they were up against so much.

what do you think? should teachers be held responsible and possibly lose their jobs over poor academic performance and low test scores?

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36 Answers

CMaz's avatar

Not the teachers but the School board.

cazzie's avatar

Fire the parents.

noyesa's avatar

School boards, especially in urban districts, are corrupt and looking for any excuse to remove another hand from the pot.

Google some news on the Detroit school board. You’ll have to laugh to keep from crying.

I went to a very well funded suburban school district and we had piles of bad teachers who never got fired. The difference was that parents were really involved, it was a very competitive high school, and was one of the best performing in the state.

Virtually all of the good ones started in Detroit, which is the largest school district in the state and needs teachers. They all left for greener pastures.

Blackberry's avatar

No, because I know from my own experience that I slacked off of my own accord. You can’t make everyone participate. People do things because they want to, you can motivate some people, but ultimately, the individual makes the choice themselves, why should I get fired if I am a teacher because someone is having a mental breakdown or something.

davidbetterman's avatar

Of course not. The student should get off his lazy butt and study harder.

CMaz's avatar

You can’t blame the teachers or the students.

Shit floats to the top.

cazzie's avatar

the system is the states is pretty mussed up, isn’t it? the school systems are still funded by local taxes? The lower the property value, the less money for the school? is that how it works?

noyesa's avatar

@cazzie It’s a little more complicated than that. Most of the failing school districts are being ruined by lack of attendance. Many of them pull crap like hiring well known celebrities to give talks at the school on count day so the district can recieve more money from the state. The severe misrepresentation of the number of students in this school district leaves many of the districts underfunded, which is cause for size reduction, which these often corrupt school boards don’t handle well. At all.

The city of Detroit, and its school district, was built for a population of nearly 3 million, for example, and based on that the school district was probably enlarged to acommodate 300,000 students or more. Enrollment at the moment is on the brink of dropping beneath 100,000. Rather than resizing appropriately, the school board continues to bribe teachers and other board members to conceal all the corruption, they haven’t resized properly, and as a result the board has landed a defecit budget for years running.

cazzie's avatar

How stupid. They don’t know how many kids are enrolled in a school? And if the kids aren’t going to school, then the parents must be told and I can only assume the parents don’t give a shit…..I stand by my original comment.

noyesa's avatar

@cazzie The state doesn’t give the district money for students who aren’t there. They might be enrolled but not attending, and many of these parents are completely uninvolved. Everyone is legally required to be enrolled school until he or she is 18 which complicates things when measuring who’s actually going.

Snarp's avatar

I’m not really sure how you can hold anyone accountable for this. Only a handful of incredible teachers can motivate some students to succeed, and even they are only likely to reach a handful of students. When all of those failing students are packed into one school, how is it reasonable to fire all of their teachers? I do think there should be performance standards of some kind for teachers, and that we need more good teachers, and that there are some truly bad ones out there, but student test scores seem to be a terrible measure or teacher performance given all the factors affecting student performance.

I am also convinced that getting universal, quality pre-school is the best thing we can do to ensure the future performance of underprivileged kids. Everything we are doing at the elementary, middle school, and high school level is just a band-aid approach and is pretty much not going to be widely successful.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Provide school vouchers, let the parents who care get their kids to any school of their choice that will provide a decent education, and let the public schools close due to apathy, neglect… and evacuation.

It’s not money. Washington DC and some other large cities provide the highest per capita school spending in the nation—probably “in the world”—and have similar results.

It’s a combination of “teaching to the test” that bores students (and teachers) with any desire whatever to learn (or to actually “teach”), and the resultant apathy that such bureaucratic and misguided policies engender.

Snarp's avatar

@cazzie You are pretty much right about funding. Most of it comes from local property taxes, but that also usually means that people in poorer districts pay higher property tax rates than those in wealthier districts. It’s certainly high time that education funding became a state wide matter or even federal instead of being based on local school districts, sometimes at the county level but sometimes at the city level. The current system hurts not just inner city kids (and parents due to higher tax rates) but also rural kids.

wundayatta's avatar

@cazzie A lot of parents don’t give a shit. Does that mean their kids and their teachers should be punished? Where is the logic in that?

The education problem is much deeper than caring or uncaring teachers. In research I’ve seen, teachers have a relatively small effect on educational attainment. Parental influence is pretty big. School district and school affect it, but not so much, if I remember correctly. Socio-economic factors are pretty big.

So changing the teachers or holding them any more responsible than they already are will do precious little. The solution has to be systemic, and it has to attack problems of poverty, and unemployment, and drug abuse, and job training, and housing, and a bunch of others. They are all tightly interlinked. Blaming the teachers is just a publicity stunt. There’s no data that shows it will have any positive impact, that I know of.

filmfann's avatar

A student secretly videotaped their class a few months back, showing the kids out of control, and the teacher letting them run wild.
the student was then suspended for secretly videotaping in class. When it came public, the girl was reinstated, and the teacher was moved.

noyesa's avatar

@snarp Something else to consider here is how these school districts are divided.

That schools are paid for by local property taxes is based on the principle that all dependents on the system live within the boundaries. Our central cities are still our hubs of activity and the health of the entire metropolitan region depends on them, yet the suburban municipalities contribute absolutely nothing to the inner city school districts.

When this system was created sprawl wasn’t really an issue. The largest domestic migration trend in America over the past 50 years has been along economic lines. People in the US are now, almost universally, segregated economically into different municipalities. The wealthy residents of the city are now living in suburban towns and cities, no longer spreading the wealth accross the needier, larger, and more vulnerable central city. This misallocation of resources has suffocated inner city school districts, making them more dependent on funding from outside the district, which is why head-count has become so important. It’s virtually impossible for these poor districts to afford their own schools without help from the outside, making poverty the endless cycle that it is.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Just like physicians shouldn’t be held responsible for a patient who won’t take his/her medication, teachers should not be penalized for students who won’t work and don’t give a damn.

partyparty's avatar

You can be a good teacher, and do your utmost to teach students, but you can’t force them to learn. That is up to the individual.
So no, most certainly you should not fire them.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@annoyesaimen (man, this name thing is really getting old), the idea that “local property taxes” aren’t enough revenue to fund inner-city school systems has been blown out of the water by the performance of the Kansas City school district, where a federal court judge took control of the entire funding issue and demanded (and got) billions pumped into the KC inner city schools, making them “magnet” schools. After reading about the facilities at the new KC schools, even I wanted to go back to high school.

The schools there perform no better than they ever did.

It’s not just a question of money. (There’s no doubt that being seriously underfunded can cut into a lot of core curriculum, and can wipe out extracurricular activity that also adds to the academic experience and helps to keep kids interested in school who may not be so motivated otherwise.) But it takes more than money to make good schools, and a lot of districts haven’t found what that is yet.

noyesa's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Absolutely, throwing more money at a broken system just makes it lose money faster. However, I don’t think funding and bad schools are tied together. They impact each other, but facilities aren’t the only thing money buys. Lots of these school districts are running out of books or aren’t capable of updating the ones they have. Some schools can’t afford more teachers.

Some districts are underbudget simply due to the ineptitude of the school administrators and the board members. However, it is a compositional fallacy to assume that because well funded districts can suck that money isn’t part of the equation. As was noted earlier, some of these failing urban districts have more money per student than many well performing suburban districts. It depends on the district and how that money is actually spent. The Detroit schools I know for a fact have a significantly greater number of dollars per student than the school I went to, yet there are schools with broken A/C systems and don’t have enough books within the district, mostly due to corruption and misallocation of funds.

Snarp's avatar

@noyesa – Don’t even get me started. Candidates for county offices around here have used the slogan “Don’t give it all to city hall”. Of course there wouldn’t even be a county if it weren’t for the central city. I’m in favor of annexation, but of course that’s a non-starter politically.

@cyanoticwasp – Well, the Kansas City schools are now facing a massive financial crisis too. Yeah, money is not enough, but that doesn’t make the current funding system remotely fair, reasonable, or acceptable.

noyesa's avatar

@Snarp That kind of attitude and campaigning is why cities like Detroit, Baltimore, and New Orleans have been working on improving their situations almost fruitlessly for half a century. It is impossible to scale a city down smoothly, especially when the demographic trend is that the wealthiest residents are going to leave. Growing a city costs money, but they can count on the tax base increasing. Shrinking costs money, and when only the wealthy people are getting up and leaving, a disproportional amount of funds is going to disappear from the tax base, making it hard enough to keep the system running, even at a smaller scale.

Snarp's avatar

@cyanoticwasp – Yeah, the name thing was funny for about ten seconds, it’s really starting to get annoying now.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

Only if their whole class is below standard and failing.
Which I doubt is the case.
I think there should be effective study-helpers for failing students, and programs designed to teach better learning habits.
Counseling might help for low self esteem issues too.
Help should be available for those who need it.

Cruiser's avatar

In my experience so far excellent teachers are very rare these days but in all fairness I think teachers are overwhelmed by overcrowded schools and disinterested, distracted and just plain rude students. Plus principals are rotated through like temporary employees so little consistency and continuity exists in schools I have had experience with so far. And I second the suggestion to hold the Superintendents more accountable for schools performances. We have to stop voting down school referendums too.

cazzie's avatar

@wundayatta ‘A lot of parents don’t give a shit. Does that mean their kids and their teachers should be punished? Where is the logic in that?’
That’s not what I said. I said the parents should be fired.

escapedone7's avatar

From what I understand the teacher does not choose the curriculum he or she must follow, at least in elementary school.

ragingloli's avatar

Do this and once the pupils know a teacher will be fired for poor pupils’ performance, they will exploit this to get rid of teachers they do not like by intentionally performing bad on tests,

cazzie's avatar

It’s gonna work opposite the same way… rangingloli. It’s been working the other way now where the teachers pass kids that don’t deserve to pass.

I could NOT believe that I was the only one at my technical college that could fill in a map of the USA.

ragingloli's avatar

I mean, teachers do not have the authority to do anything against pupils that are unable or unwilling to learn. When they do, they get covered in shit by parents who are all like “how dare you try to raise my kid, as if you were the parent”.
If you want to fire teachers for pupil’s bad performance, each case should be evaluated whether it was due to the teacher’s inability to transmit the knowledge within the confines of his authority or whether it was to the inabilty or unwillingness of pupils to learn, which would be currently outside his territory. Only in the former case should one contemplate firing the teacher. In the latter case society should light a fire under the parents’ arses to make them raise their children better.
Or you give teachers the authority to raise the kids themselves if the parents are incompetent.

Snarp's avatar

Maybe we should have fake students, kind of like 21 Jump Street, except instead of cops, they’re proven expert teachers who deliver reports on the teachers in the classroom. If there is consistent evidence of poor teaching across all reports, then they have to go through some re-training, and eventually you fire them if it doesn’t take.

cazzie's avatar

@bensnarpimew Hey… that’s a cool idea, and while they are there, they can help be a positive roll model and tutor the other students and hopefully be cool enough to not get beat up for it.

JLeslie's avatar

I have mixed feelings. Something has to be done to hold teachers accountable. What I mean is we need to know for sure they are doing their job, a better way to evaluate them. I am completely against tenure. What other industry in America has that? I think we need to get people from outside of education into some positions of authority in the school system, because some school systems simply don’t work well, and when you are in a system/bureaucracy for years you get tunnel vision. Bloomberg in NYC has been doing this, not sure how that is working. I know the charter elementary school in Harlem is doing very well, students are testing as high as Scarsdale.

It is not just about money for sure. I agree the home life situation can affect a child’s performance, but I think also we need to be realistic when teaching students. I don’t believe in homework for very young children, because if they cannot do the work on their own, and need a parents help, and the parents are working all day or non-English speaking parents that child is screwed and feeling incompetent at a young age. There are bunches of studies that show homework in kindergarten and first grade has no affect on how they perform in high school or life. High school students need to have exposure to things outside of their immediate neighborhood, understand the possibilities. Field trips to observe various types of job opportunities, visiting a college campus, vocational opportunities. Students need to see a path for their future and maybe they won’t be dropping out so much.

We need to get creative.

thriftymaid's avatar

It’s certainly one thing to look at when assessing performance. In our system, the scores affect the teacher’s pay.

wundayatta's avatar

@cazzie ‘A lot of parents don’t give a shit. Does that mean their kids and their teachers should be punished? Where is the logic in that?’
That’s not what I said. I said the parents should be fired.

Obviously, I didn’t make my point very clearly. What I’m trying to say is that when the parents fall down on the job, their kids do badly. Because they do badly, the school looks bad. So teachers get fired.

Now kids don’t have parents and they don’t have teachers. Blaming the parents may be placing blame in the right place, but it isn’t helpful. The parents are’t bad because they are malevolent; they are bad because they don’t know how to be good parents. They are bad parents because the school system failed them, and they never had good opportunities and on and on.

Blaming teachers or schools doesn’t help, either. We have a whole system with many parts, each playing a role. Firing any of them misses the point. The point is that we have to address the whole system, and people have to cooperate, not assign blame. Without a comprehensive approach, we’ll be firing teachers and parents all over the place for decades.

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