Currently, the education system in the United States is focusing on the need to foster equity in the education system and improve performance level. Consequently, policy makers have reformed many of the policies that shape the education system in the U.S. The new reforms have focused more on the need to improve the quality of instruction students receive in the school. Since instructors are more influential on students’ success, improving policies that assist schools maximize teacher efficacy is one of the essential change states can influence. However, creating new policies should factor in the needs of the teachers as well as the students. Unfortunately, most policies have failed to cater for the rights of both teachers and the students. Following this inconsistency, teachers have found themselves seeking the help of the lawsuits to retain their jobs or defend their course of action (Osborne & Russo, 2011). Litigation is becoming more prevalent in the education system not only in the United States but also in other nations. Teachers are being held more responsible and accountable for their deeds concerning the law. The same law that allows for litigation against non-responsible teachers provides them the right to a legitimate reason before they are proven guilty.
Teachers deserve due process before they are held responsible for educational malpractice. Due process provides teachers with a scope of freedom for applying their professional judgment in their classrooms. Besides, due process eradicates fear to sanction for utilizing controversial methods while teaching. Students, as well as parents, are becoming more informed of their rights. Due process wards off patronage and encourages professionalism (Osborne & Russo, 2011). Litigation may arise because of breaches of education policies, negligence, and breach of contract or educational malpractice. Due process should not be used to protect incompetence or reason for leaders not to sanction negligence and malpractices. However, this paper examines the case of Ms. Green. She is a veteran teacher and sticks to her traditional ways of teaching instead of adapting to the newly implemented Language Arts Curriculum. This paper will argue that Ms. Green should be able to prove competency by adapting to the required standards and responsibilities of her position. Failure to adjust should not be tolerated thus the principal should take action against Ms. Green.
Educational malpractice and negligence
Educational malpractice occurs when a teacher fails to facilitate learning and in a way that is understandable to the students. Negligence is a type of a tort law and it deals with issues between people where one party suffers because of something the other party ignored. The due process should not serve as a cover for teachers who deserve to be ushered out of the profession. For example, union leaders in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maryland cooperate with school administrators and lawmakers to implement innovative policies (Matula, 2011). Teachers are motivated by moral principles and personal beliefs. Consequently, they make their decisions concerning their right to establish and follow a certain course of action as stipulated by the policies. Educational changes and policies coming from top-bottom can be dictating since they leave teachers with no influence of what takes place in their classrooms. Therefore, teachers should have control in how they interpret the policy provided they do not intend to promote malpractices. Essentially, there is no defined way, but rather a multiple of diverse options that are presented to teachers (Elswick, 2006).
Identifying ineffective teacher and gathering evidence
It is difficult to dismiss ineffective teachers without defining their case and giving them a chance to respond. Unfortunately, many states and school districts lack a clear definition of incompetence, or the instructor’s inability handle their job in varying ways. Nonetheless, school districts create their meanings after a rigorous evaluation. For instance, Tennessee statute describes incompetency as being unable or lacking the willingness to perform the roles and responsibilities of a particular position. This inability may include evident unfitness for service or the inability to secure the cooperation of those with whom the teacher interact. In this case, Ms. Green is not willing to shift to new styles of teaching which are deemed suitable by the school management. In spite of the long process of dismissing teachers and the complexity of winning cases, as a principle, it is necessary to take action against Ms. Green since she is not ready to change.
Even though the dismissal process may be lengthy and costly, it is worth pursuing since there is substantial evidence to bring a case to a hearing. Besides, tenure statutes rarely link teacher competence and dismissal procedure making it hard to eject poorly performing teachers. Only a few states require that some evidence of teacher efficacy be factored in issuing tenure.
In various occasions, the Court has shown considerable efforts to support effective instruction and dismissal of ineffective teachers. For example, during the Courts historic decision in Vergara v. California, the Court reaffirmed the constitutional provision for all students to learn from competent instructors (Marianno, 2015). The court emphasized on the importance to retain competent teachers and dismiss those accountable for failing students. In this light, Ms. Green should not be an exception; she has to be accountable for sticking to ineffective teaching styles. The Vergara v. California lawsuit did not challenge the California teacher’s due process rights. The case challenges the laws that protect incompetent teachers.
Opportunity to respond
It is necessary to provide teachers feedback on their weak points and chance to improve their practice before initiating a process to make dismissal. Just as it is a tradition in a number of districts, Ms. Green is given an opportunity to seek peer assistance. Since Ms. Green has been offered an opportunity to respond to the claims that she is not providing high-quality instruction, it is necessary for the principal to initiate a dismissal process. It is demoralizing for committed teachers to teach around to others who are not willing to adapt to high-quality instruction (Coleman, Schroth, Molinaro, & Green, 2006). However, in a bid to facilitate the dismissal process, it is important to involve a peer review committee to compile documentation for the support process. In case Ms. Green fails to respond appropriately, the principal should go ahead and file a complaint under the civil lawsuit.
The dismissal process
Many principals often ignore the process of dismissing ineffective teachers. This reluctance is because most of them fail to materialize. Principals have a critical role to play in correcting this condition. Teachers who are not willing to improve their teaching skills should not be left to continue issuing a poor instruction. Principals should rely on the available procedure to revoke tenure based on evidence of ineffective instruction. However, the due process should be respected. Ms. Green should be given an opportunity to respond to charges against her.
For students in the United States, equal opportunities for learning must entail equal opportunity to be guided by a competent teacher (Bunten, 2014). The principle should act on behalf of the students who are the winners of the decision to dismiss ineffective teachers such as Ms. Green. Taking this broad measure to dismiss Ms. Green can be a turning point to nurturing talented and dedicated teachers. This decision can be a major victory for students. The principal should not wait for students to go to the court to get quality education. This decision should not be seen as a punishment to Ms. Green but rather a wake-up call that puts non-performing teachers on notice. Consequently, by eliminating ineffective teachers will be doing justice to the group of dedicated teachers who find it hard working with ineffective colleagues.
It is evident that there is a need for reforming teacher dismissal process in a bid to compel reluctant teachers such as Ms. Green to conform to the set standards of her position. Moreover, clear dismissal process protects teachers from unfair termination decisions as well as catering for the best interests of the students. State laws should facilitate the evaluation practices and ensure that tenure decisions are based on reliable information concerning the teachers’ competence. The dismissal process for ineffective teachers should be fair but efficient to encourage principals to eliminate teachers who are not performing and not willing to get help to deal with the issue.
Bunten, B. (2014). Neither Right nor Wrong: How a Teacher Integrates Her Personal and Professional Life With Policy. Theory into Practice, 53(3), 204-211.
Coleman, J., Schroth, S., Molinaro, L., & Green, M. (2006). Tenure: An Important Due Process Right or a Hindrance to Change in the Schools. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 18(3), 219-231.
Elswick, M. (2006). Educational malpractice lawsuits filed against non-public K-12 schools. Louisville, KY: Spalding University.
Marianno, B. (2015). Teachers’ Unions on the Defensive: How Recent Collective Bargaining Laws Reformed the Rights of Teachers. Journal of School Choice, 9(4), 551-577.
Matula, J. (2011). Embedding Due Process Measures throughout the Evaluation of Teachers. NASSP Bulletin, 95(2), 99-121.
Osborne, A., & Russo, C. (2011). The legal rights and responsibilities of teachers. Thousand Oaks, CA.: Corwin.