This topic seems very pedestrian since we just took another in a long series of steps in the wrong direction on health care, but the bloated civil service is a major reason why we are heading toward a Greece-style fiscal meltdown. This story from California is shocking. More than 30,000 teachers, including about 1,000 that are failures, yet over a 10-year period the school district was able to fire four teachers. No wonder California schools do such a bad job. Here’s the relevant part of an expose from LA Weekly:
Los Angeles Unified School District, with its 885 schools and 617,000 students, educates one in every 10 children in California. It also mirrors a troubled national system of teacher evaluations and job security… Recent articles in the Los Angeles Times have described teachers who draw full pay for years while they sit at home fighting allegations of sexual or physical misconduct. But the far larger problem in L.A. is one of “performance cases” — the teachers who cannot teach, yet cannot be fired. Their ranks are believed to be sizable — perhaps 1,000 teachers, responsible for 30,000 children. But in reality, nobody knows how many of LAUSD’s vast system of teachers fail to perform. Superintendent Ramon Cortines tells the Weekly he has a “solid” figure, but he won’t release it. In fact, almost all information about these teachers is kept secret. But the Weekly has found, in a five-month investigation, that principals and school district leaders have all but given up dismissing such teachers. In the past decade, LAUSD officials spent $3.5 million trying to fire just seven of the district’s 33,000 teachers for poor classroom performance — and only four were fired, during legal struggles that wore on, on average, for five years each. Two of the three others were paid large settlements, and one was reinstated. The average cost of each battle is $500,000. During our investigation, in which we obtained hundreds of documents using the California Public Records Act, we also discovered that 32 underperforming teachers were initially recommended for firing, but then secretly paid $50,000 by the district, on average, to leave without a fight.