Gresham’s Law of Education: “Bad” Principals Drive Out “”Good” Teachers

The Gresham’s Law  of Education is: “bad principals drive good teachers out of schools.”

The Department vigorously pursued a change in the 2005 UFT Contract negotiations and hailed as a great success the ending of senior transfers. The Open Market  transfer system allows any teacher to move to any school without the approval of the “sending” school principal. There are no caps on the “sending” or on the “receiving” school.

The original senior transfer plan was negotiated to prevent teachers fleeing from “difficult” schools to “less difficult” schools.

Half of all vacancies were posted for seniority transfers, no more than five percent of staff could transfer out of any school. If the “sending” and the “receiving” schools and districts approved teachers could move under an “administrative” transfer – however – the vacancy had to be posted for seniority transfer the following year.

About half of the schools had decided to opt out of the seniority transfer system and selected teachers by way of the School Based Option Staffing and Transfer plan, an interview committee made up of a majority of teachers interviewed and selected staff – with a “quick” arbitration to prevent bias or discrimination.

Only about 300 teachers availed themselves of the Seniority Transfer Plan – one half of one percent of teachers. Anecdotal evidence shows the prime reason for transfer was to move to a school closer to your home!

Klein’s screed that the Seniority Transfer Plan allowed incompetent, unsatisfactory teachers to move from school to school is urban myth. The Seniority Plan required a teacher to have three consecutive satisfactory ratings to be eligible to transfer.

As Klein basked in the glow of “success” the teacher union kept quiet. They established a members only “grapevine” so that teachers could “check out” schools.

Over 2700 teachers transferred last year under the first year of the Open Market system … the Department and the Union remain silent about the details of the transfers, i.e., who transferred where. The Department is silent because teachers fled from “undesirable” schools and the Union remained smugly silent because they snookered the Department.

Next week the new round of Open Market transfers will begin … principals are already scouring the staffs of other schools and “cherry-picking” the “best and the brightest.”

So, in spite of the protestations of Joel, he has facilitated teachers to move from the “difficult to staff” schools … especially schools with “undesirable” principals. Rather than encouraging teacher to work in the “neediest” schools his Milton Friedman approach to school transfers condemn schools to an endless round of new, inexperienced teachers practicing on the “neediest” kids.


One response to “Gresham’s Law of Education: “Bad” Principals Drive Out “”Good” Teachers

  1. Excellent analysis that really needs to get out there in the bigger debate of forcing senior teachers into going where they don’t want to go.


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