Sunday, 4 July 2010

18 incompetent teachers sacked in 40 years

BBC News reports:

Only 18 UK teachers have been struck off for incompetence in the past 40 years, the BBC's Panorama has learned.

This is despite estimates that up to 17,000 teachers are not up to the job.

Some bad teachers are moved between schools, rather than having their competency challenged, it has emerged.

My wife is a teacher, and for the last three years she has been picking up the slack for a truly incompetent colleague, who will finally be leaving this year on early retirement, after gaming the system as far as possible. If she hadn't made such a fuss, he'd probably still be there. A free market would not tolerate such parasitism.

Even now, most good teachers in the public sector don't realise that unions are part of the problem. School vouchers must be the answer. At the moment, anyone wishing to go private must pay twice: once in taxes, and again in fees. This means that most middle income parents are stuck with the local comprehensive. Allow these parents to take their children out of the state system, and it will sink or swim, to the benefit of all. The New Zealand experience, as related by Maurice McTigue, shows how state schools raise their game when faced with this situation:

New Zealand had an education system that was failing as well. It was failing about 30 percent of its children—especially those in lower socio-economic areas. We had put more and more money into education for 20 years, and achieved worse and worse results.

It cost us twice as much to get a poorer result than we did 20 years previously with much less money. So we decided to rethink what we were doing here as well. The first thing we did was to identify where the dollars were going that we were pouring into education. We hired international consultants (because we didn’t trust our own departments to do it), and they reported that for every dollar we were spending on education, 70 cents was being swallowed up by administration. Once we heard this, we immediately eliminated all of the Boards of Education in the country. Every single school came under the control of a board of trustees elected by the parents of the children at that school, and by nobody else. We gave schools a block of money based on the number of students that went to them, with no strings attached. At the same time, we told the parents that they had an absolute right to choose where their children would go to school. It is absolutely obnoxious to me that anybody would tell parents that they must send their children to a bad school. We converted 4,500 schools to this new system all on the same day.

But we went even further: We made it possible for privately owned schools to be funded in exactly the same way as publicly owned schools, giving parents the ability to spend their education dollars wherever they chose. Again, everybody predicted that there would be a major exodus of students from the public to the private schools, because the private schools showed an academic advantage of 14 to 15 percent. It didn’t happen, however, because the differential between schools disappeared in about 18-24 months. Why? Because all of a sudden teachers realized that if they lost their students, they would lose their funding; and if they lost their funding, they would lose their jobs. Eighty-five percent of our students went to public schools at the beginning of this process. That fell to only about 84 percent over the first year or so of our reforms. But three years later, 87 percent of the students were going to public schools. More importantly, we moved from being about 14 or 15 percent below our international peers to being about 14 or 15 percent above our international peers in terms of educational attainment.

Hat tip DK.

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