Education Question 8

Do think it is it too hard to fire bad teachers who have tenure? If so, what do you think should be done about that?

Gery Chico: Research shows that the most important influence on a student’s achievement is a high-quality teacher.  We must ensure that we have only the best teachers and principals in every school.  It is critical that teachers have the resources they need, the support they deserve, and that they be held accountable for their students’ academic growth.  If a teacher is struggling, we must provide them with the support and resources they need to improve.  That said, children’s lives don’t wait, and we must do everything we can to give them the quality instruction and guidance they deserve. 

While nothing is more helpful to a student than a great teacher, nothing is more harmful than a poor teacher.  Teacher promotion must be based on performance.  I will implement a research-based teacher evaluation system.  This evaluation system will be developed with the teachers’ union, will be fair, and will utilize the best developments in evaluation methods.  I will also implement a pay structure that ensures those teachers who are succeeding are adequately rewarded.  If a teacher is not able to succeed in the classroom, I will not hesitate to remove the teacher, regardless of rank.

Miguel del Valle: Teacher evaluation is a negotiated item with the Chicago Teachers Union. In collaboration with the union, there needs to be a review and necessary changes to make sure that there is a process that will allow termination of those teachers that fail to do their job effectively.

The State of Illinois is requiring all districts to change their teacher evaluation process to make it more transparent and helpful to teachers. The Chicago Public Schools recently received a $34 million Teacher Incentive Fund grant from the federal government to improve teacher evaluation practices.

The foundation of a good teacher evaluation system is to thoroughly evaluate teachers early in their career, before tenure is awarded, and then support teachers’ efforts to continue to improve across their entire careers.

Rahm Emanuel: I approach every education decision with one question: how do we better educate our children. We simply cannot afford to leave our children in the hands of bad teachers. I am focused on teacher development and improvement, but we must also have the flexibility to remove the worst teachers and ensure that our children are in classrooms run by effective leaders.

Carol Moseley Braun: No answer.

Patrica Van Pelt-Watkins: Yes. We all know that there are both low-performing and high-performing teachers throughout the Chicago Public School System. If we fail to address this issue, it will have a detrimental impact on all of our children – and on our future.

I believe that our school system should include more mentoring, strong support systems and improved training for our teachers to ensure that they are effective.  With the right types of performance reviews and support, I believe that we can improve the quality of teaching in all of our schools – and ideally prevent the need for more dismissals.

Should a dismissal be necessary, I believe that the process must be overhauled to ensure a fair and balanced dismissal process that is based on meaningful evaluations, and that includes the proper checks and balances.

William "Doc" Walls, III:

Teachers who have achieved tenure obviously demonstrated the requisite skill needed to teach within the system. A tenured teacher should not be terminated simply because they are experiencing a set-back or find themselves struggling through a rough patch of life. If a tenured teacher has difficulty, including motivating students or providing proper instruction, they should be offered counseling, supplemental training and an opportunity to correct any obvious deficiencies.