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Jay's Take: One Way to Save Struggling Teachers--Maybe


My colleague Dan de Vise provides an intriguing look at teacher support efforts on our front page Monday, in what many seasoned educators think is the best way to help bad teachers--regular counseling and review by experts.

His subject is the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) program in Montgomery County, a wealthy suburb that can afford the $2 million annual cost. Teachers who are ineffective in the classroom, and all new teachers, are assigned a classroom expert who watches them in action and meets with them regularly, making suggestions and seeing if they work. A 16-person panel---8 principals appointed by the school system and 8 teachers appointed by the union--makes the final decision on whether to keep the teachers or dismiss them so they can seek more congenial employment.

This seems to produce more, rather than fewer, dismissals of ineffective teachers than Montgomery had before. But that is a misleading figure because before PAR, under-performing teachers were often hectored into quitting, and didn’t show up on the stats as being dismissed. The teachers union designed the plan. The superintendent likes it.

My only qualm is that the panel pays little attention to test score data or parental opinions---both of which teachers' unions tend to ignore anyway. Many parents, including me, think those factors should get more weight.

By Washington Post editors  | June 29, 2009; 3:36 PM ET
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Next: Jay on the Web: Can Unions and KIPP Schools Co-exist?

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