Timothy Dalrymple wonders whether education reform should be one of the great objectives for American Christians in the twenty-first century. Taking up that cause will require overcoming the intransigence of the teachers’ unions:
Try firing an ineffective teacher. Roughly 1 in 50 doctors lose their medical license. Only 1 in 2500 teachers ever lose their teaching credentials. Process that for a moment. It’s much easier to become a teacher than a doctor, yet teachers are fifty times less likely than doctors to be removed from the profession. One of the statistics cited in Waiting for Superman, an extraordinary documentary on the crisis of American public education, is that only 61 out of Illinois’ 876 school districts have attempted to fire even one teacher, and only 38 of those districts were successful. The tenure system — designed to give the most accomplished university professors the freedom to advance new ideas in their teaching and writing without fear of reprisal from their employers, and gained only after many years and rigorous examination — has become an iron shield protecting ineffective teachers who earned their tenure after two years. Good teachers are a national treasure. Bad teachers who refuse to change their ways are leeches on the system who cannot be removed and who miseducate our children into truancy and joblessness.