Wherever teacher unions exist, the rigors of state-mandated due process are exacerbated by excessive procedures negotiated by the union designed to frighten off any principal who tries to discipline a teacher. Plus, the unions have access to top-notch attorneys specifically trained to defend teachers brought up on dismissal charges.
In my book, The Alliance Against Education Reform (AuthorHouse, 2007), I discuss the meaning of due process and dissect its complicated requirements as they pertain to teacher discipline.
For several years, I was responsible for handling all disciplinary actions, including dismissals, for a large school district. During that time I presented seminars to school board members, administrators, and attorneys in other districts on how to dismiss tenured teachers.
From these unique experiences I learned many lessons, including the following:
- School board members don’t want to get involved in dismissing teachers.
- Union reps are well-prepared to defend even the most incompetent teacher and will do so to enhance their image as defenders of “exploited” teachers.
- Dismissal procedures are rigged to protect the guilty. Whereas tenure originally was designed to protect competent teachers from interference with their academic freedom, tenure has degenerated into a process for protecting the incompetent.
— Richard G. Neal