Accountability Part II: Job Protection

In Iowa, firing a non-probationary public school teacher  requires “just cause” – basically, a reason that will hold up in court.

Is that a good thing? You’d probably like to have that kind of protection yourself, but you probably wouldn’t want to go to a hospital, say, where everyone had that kind of protection. And you should be dubious about sending your children to a school where the teachers have it.

First, “He’s not very good, he doesn’t work very hard, and hiring him was a terrible mistake,” won’t hold up in court.

Second, even if the superintendent and school board have a stronger reason, that probably would hold up in court, they may not act. Going to court is expensive and time-consuming, and is never a sure thing. The judge wasn’t there, after all.

Finally, if you work in the private sector, and aren’t represented by a union, you don’t have anything like this much protection (Only about 7% of private-sector workers are represented by unions).

So we – the public – rarely have that kind of protection, but people who work for us, and can have a huge impact on our families, do.

I’m not suggesting that teachers should have no protection at all, by the way. If they were protected until the end of the school year, but not indefinitely, that would be reasonable.

But one way or another, poor performance should have consequences (for principals, superintendents, school boards, and everyone involved, by the way, not just for teachers).