Monday, March 17, 2008

Tulsa teachers union: 99.9 percent of our teachers are fit to teach

The Center for Union Facts reported last week that, thanks to policies defended by the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA) and its parent labor unions (the Oklahoma Education Association and the National Education Association), practically no teachers are ever fired by the Tulsa public school system after they work for three years and thus acquire tenure.

In Tulsa there are approximately 2,136 tenured teachers. Original research by the Center for Union Facts into school district records indicates that, between 2003 and 2006, only two tenured teachers were fired. Put another way, Tulsa Public Schools fires about 0.02 percent of its tenured teachers annually.

The typical union response to such abysmally low statistics is that tenured teachers are commonly "counseled out" of their jobs if they're not fit to teach. But a look at district records suggests that it's not very common at all. Center for Union Facts research indicates that for 2003 through 2006, only six tenured teachers appear to have resigned or retired in lieu of termination. That "counseled out" termination rate is still less than 0.07 percent of tenured teachers a year.

It's easy to believe that the vast majority of public schoolteachers in Tulsa are doing a good job, but it's a near-impossibility that fully 99.9 percent of its tenured teachers deserve to be in front of kids; any group of people that size is bound to have at least a few more bad apples than the ones noted above. The best explanation, in our opinion, is that by protecting an outmoded employment system in the legislature and by turning tenured teacher termination cases into equivalents of a criminal trial, the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association and its affiliates have made it nearly impossible to fire bad teachers.

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