The question for decades has been, 'Why can't Johnny read?' (And yes, I know it is the title of a classic phonics book.) Sometimes the problem is Johnny, but many times it is a bad teacher with tenure. The Chicago Tribune provides us with a rather graphic example of just how difficult it is to remove a bad teacher from the educational system. Based on the current rules in the state of Illinois, mandated by union contracts, there are up to 27 steps that can take anywhere from two to five years before a bad teacher is booted from the classroom.
Let's follow the process:
After observing a suspected bad teacher for the state-mandated two days, a school principal can decided that a teacher is doing an unsatisfactory job.
The Principal officially notifies the teacher.
Within three days, a coach is provided to the teacher.
After a week, the principal, the coach and the teacher meet to make a remediation plan.
A month later, a remediation plan is developed and then reviewed for an additional sixty days.
We are now three months into the process, a bad teacher is still teaching the children.
At this point (almost 4 months since a problem was identified) the principal reviews the final remediation and makes a final determination. If the teacher improves and is rated 'satisfactory' they may return to the job. If unsatisfactory, the principal has ten days to file dismissal charges.
The teacher has a month to think about the dismissal charges and request a formal hearing with the state school board regarding a pending suspension without pay.
The state then steps in with a process of selecting a panel of five potential hearing officers, and each side is allowed to approve or reject that panel, further delaying the inevitable start of the hearing process.
The actual hearing process takes two days, but thanks to a complicated and protracted process, it could take six months from the start of the hearings to a determination that either agrees with the findings and fires the teacher or orders reinstatement.
Even if there is an agreement from the judge that the principal's decision is correct, dismissal is not an end. The teacher can file an appeal. And that appeal starts in the Cook County Circuit Court to the Appellate Courts and possibly all the way to the Illinois State Supreme Court. This appeals process can take as long as two to three years.
The unfortunate reality is that children suffer with bad educators as the state is forced to continue paying for substandard performance.