TimesDaily, Florence, on teacher performance reform:

Students can easily identify the bad teachers. Parents know them. So do superintendents, principals and other teachers.

Sadly, even many bad teachers know the truth about themselves.

So why aren’t we doing anything about it? Are we waiting on a hero to save the day?

That is the question posed by the documentary, “Waiting for Superman,” newly released on DVD.

According to the documentary, only one in 2,500 teachers lose their teaching credentials. That compares to one in 57 physicians and one in 97 lawyers.

With the state of modern tenure laws in Alabama and other states, teaching has become a legally protected right rather than a job that a person keeps based on performance.

Innumerable students have suffered, are suffering and will suffer from a system that tries to treat every educator the same, regardless of talent and motivation.

Of the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranks 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading. No one knows more about this than the colleges and universities that must require too many high school graduates to take remedial classes before they can enter general studies.

This newspaper has been a supporter of local, state and federal funding for education. We believe Alabama is a woeful example of reliable funding because money for education rides up and down on the fluctuations of sales taxes.

But money is just part of the equation.

An equally important issue is the need to reward good teachers and get rid of the poorly performing educators.

The Alabama Education Association has proved a formidable roadblock to reform. The group’s primary function is to protect its membership, which consists of both good and bad teachers. By drawing on its deep financial well, the AEA has been able to control politics in Montgomery through campaign contributions. The ability to maintain the ruinous status quo is mirrored across the nation.

The GOP’s newfound power in Montgomery is making some good and some questionable moves in its effort to weaken AEA’s power.

If the Legislature’s new leadership and AEA truly want to place students first, they should unite to treat individual teachers according to their efforts and talents. ...

— The Associated Press

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