Firing Novice Teachers: Weeding Out Incompetents? Playing to the Anti Union Crowd? Gloating? How Does Firing Newer Teachers Impact Teaching/Learning?


Is it a “plus” or a “minus”?
How many of the “fired” teachers were hired by the principals that fired them? How many were Teach for America? Teaching Fellows? By Race? Ethnicity?  As usual the Department simply spins out press releases and withholds the source data.
One would hope that the Department values teachers as they gain experience, and, isn’t trying to establish a “fast food” model … a revolving door of employees … valuing the cost of the teacher over the experience of the teacher.
Some background: Teachers serve a three year probationary period and are rated at the end of each school year. The rating officer, usually the principal may rate  the teacher “S,” “D” or “U” in the first year and “S” or “U” in the following years. If a probationary teacher receives a “U” rating the rating officer can opt to “discontinue” the probationary teacher, in effect, “firing” the teacher. The teacher may appeal the “discontinuance,”  however, the hearing panel is an in-house administrative hearing that makes a recommendation to the chancellor. Virtually every discontinuance is sustained. At the end of the probationary period a teacher can chose to continue their probationary period, usually the option is the threat of  “discontinuance.”
The Department lauds itself and points to their Teacher Evaluation Unit that electronically informs principals of the probationary status of teachers.
Not so long ago Superintendents, remember them, personally observed every teacher before recommending them for tenure …  but, the Department has no memory since it has purged all documents/policies that preceded them …
In addition to the 600 teachers who were fired thousands of teachers leave voluntarily each year. To the best of my knowledge the Department does not conduct exit interviews or conduct an exit survey.
Wouldn’t it be helpful to know why teachers leave? or, switch schools?
The NYC Research Partnership is a little known effort to conduct creditable research, based upon the highly regarded Consortium on Chicago School Research .
Among the first studies released in October, 2007 was Who Leaves: Teacher Attrition and Student Achievement that found
Teacher attrition for novice teachers in New York City is marked by two dominant themes. First, teachers of low-performing students are more likely to leave their current schools during their first two years of teaching than are teachers of high-performing students. And, second, across both low and high-performing schools, teachers who are less effective in raising student achievement are more likely to leave their current school than are more effective teachers.
Why are more effective teachers leaving low performing schools? Isn’t this the opposite of the goals of Fair Student Funding?  What is the Department doing to retain more effective teachers in low performing schools? 
Should principals be the sole evaluators of teachers? Should teachers “reflect” on colleagues’ practice? How many schools utilize Critical Friends Groups?
Firing more probationary teachers may mean we purging the system of the incompetent? It may mean that principals are firing teachers hired by their predecessors? What is the impact on the rest of the staff? Will it improve the practice of the remainder of the staff? or encourage them to leave the school? What interventions did the principal utilize prior to the decision to terminate the teacher?
Gloating about firing more teachers may gain creds among the anti-union crowd, but we have no idea how it impacts teaching and learning.

6 responses to “Firing Novice Teachers: Weeding Out Incompetents? Playing to the Anti Union Crowd? Gloating? How Does Firing Newer Teachers Impact Teaching/Learning?

  1. And remember that some of the principals — which is short for “principal teacher” — are Leadership Academy grads with little or no teaching experience themselves. What frame of reference do they have for recruiting, training, helping new teachers? And how do they evaluate people practicing a profession they themselves have not mastered? By the numbers, of course!


  2. Giving principals this much power over the livelihood of probationary teachers is a dangerous thing. These teacher’s who have just graduated from college with bills and some with families are at the mercy of these incompetent individuals. Since the union does not protect probationary teachers they have no recourse when this happens. The union protects tenured teachers accused of sexuel harressment and corporal punishment against students at tax payers expense yet a probationary teacher can be discontinued for no other reason then the principal can do it .This pratice creates a dangerous atmosphere for our children as well as probationary teacher’s since they must do as their told or risk being fired. I beleive a class action lawsuit should be taken against the Dept of Education as well as U.F.T by teacher’s who were discontinued because a principal for no other reason then the power to do so discontinued them,


  3. Probartionary Teacher

    How are probationary teachers ever going to get experience and improve if they aren’t given a chance. Teachers in a new position or school spend so much time on curriculum and planning that everything else is put to the side.


  4. Former Teacher

    It’s unfortunate, but these people are unprincipled liars, and they’ll do anything to make a name, or a dollar, for themselves. It’s scary to live on the same planet with these sort of individuals.


  5. Former Teacher

    I’d just like to add that I left because the kids are depraved, the parents and principals are enablers, and, though I was tenured, it was just not worth another minute of my time to continue as a teacher. There are a few kids that are worth the effort, but I could not keep forsaking my own needs for a few others, any longer.

    My advice to people interested in becoming teachers is that they find another way to help their fellow man, if that’s their calling. If you’re already a teacher, create an exit strategy or find a good school to work in: don’t try to be a savior.

    To the principals out there, grow a conscience.


  6. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.


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