U.S. public wants an easier way to fire bad teachers

Seven in 10 say it should be easier to fire principals.

An overwhelming majority of Americans are frustrated that it’s too difficult to get rid of bad teachers, while most also believe that teachers aren’t paid enough, a new poll shows.

The Associated Press-Stanford University poll found that 78 percent of respondents think it should be easier for school administrators to fire poorly performing teachers.

Yet overall, the public wants to reward teachers—57 percent say they are paid too little, with just 7 percent believing they are overpaid and most of the rest saying they’re paid about right.

School districts have struggled for years over how to keep good teachers. This has led to controversial techniques like using standardized test scores to measure how much a student has learned in a teacher’s class.

Some districts, like New York City schools, are considering making the data public so parents know how teachers rate.

The Los Angeles school district announced in late August it would adopt such a model to assess teacher performance. Unions have fought against the release of such data, saying it’s an unproven methodology that doesn’t truly reflect how a teacher is performing in the classroom.

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Carmen Williams, 53, an office manager from Yates City, Ill., said the issue is simple: Pay teachers more and get rid of the bad ones.

“Good teachers are hard to find, and one of the reasons they are hard to find is because they’re not paid enough to support themselves, especially if they have a family,” she said. “There are very good teachers out there, but there comes a day when they need to retire and they don’t, and what happens at that point is the kids suffer.”

It’s not just bad teachers whom people want set loose. Nearly as many in the AP-Stanford poll—71 percent—say it should be easier to fire principals at schools where students are performing poorly.

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