I doubt that the lowest possible turnover rate is compatible with the best possible education. Turnover has costs, but it also has benefits: fresh blood, lower burnout rates, and an incentive for teachers to keep performing. The whole idea of hiring someone in their early twenties and employing them forever seems like an unhealthy organizational structure to me–in the military and old-school law firms as well as teaching, though the military and law firms do more to weed out the number along the way. It breeds an organization that is insular–resistant to new ideas, suspicious of outsiders, resentful of its nominal clients. We should be looking for ways to make teaching more open to part-timers and people in second, third, or eighth career cycles, and to make it easier for teachers to move around between schools and districts, and between teaching and other industries.
So what are the benefits of making teachers easier to fire?
Good question. By treating teachers as identical, professionals who develop skills at the same rate and produce the same results, we are essentially saying that our kids can be produced on a mass scale. I do not understand why the assembly line union model is so appealing to the professional teacher in this new millennium.
And I certainly don’t understand how anyone could be expected to work the same job for 40 years without burning out quickly.
I feel for teachers. Kids freak me out, and I couldn’t imagine trying to keep them interested in school every day, week in week out, for a whole career. But what makes them so special that one needs a specific degree in education to do what they do? I don’t mean getting accredited training in education; I mean a whole degree. You got to think that there are people out there who could be just as effective a teacher as most of who we currently employ without all that accreditation.
Or maybe not. I don’t know. But I do know that there are other models than the public-sector teaching model out there, and it behooves us to ensure that we employ the best model available for our children.