Wrong rights

In the Big Apple, teachers who are "excessed"--i.e., replaced with teachers deemed more effective by principals--are put into an "Absent Teacher Reserve," which currently houses some 600 educators, all of whom receive full salaries and benefits and cost the city $81 million this year. To be clear: These 600 teachers are paid for doing nothing. Most school leaders don't want them, and a new report found that half of them had not even applied for any teaching vacancies through New York's online system. Now, wisely, the city wants to begin laying off those who for twelve months or more have languished in the Reserve, working on screenplays and playing Tetris on their iPhones. United Federation of Teachers boss Randi Weingarten is predictably outraged, claiming that "the D.O.E. is abdicating its responsibility to help the teachers who, through no fault of their own, have lost their positions." The statement defies all logic. Two-hundred miles south, opponents of a new D.C. agreement, which gives Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee power to reassign teachers at schools slated to close, are similarly off-base when they complain that it deprives educators at shuttering schools of the so-called "right" to follow transferring students. Do principals have no "right" to choose their own staffs? Do students have no "right" to competent teachers in their classrooms?

"$81 Million for Reserve of Teachers," by Jennifer Medina, New York Times, April 29, 2008

"Rhee Gets Say Over Teacher Transfers," by V. Dion Haynes, Washington Post, April 29, 2008

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