Audrey Spalding
At a Show-Me Institute policy breakfast, Saint Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams noted that it is very difficult to fire bad teachers. In fact, it is even more difficult to fire bad teachers in Saint Louis than it is in the rest of the state.

Adams said:
It takes 100 days to remove a teacher after you give a teacher a plan. In every other city or county in the state of Missouri, it takes 30 days. So if there's a bad teacher in the classroom, I have to work with that teacher for 100 days with a detailed plan, called a PIP, a professional improvement plan, to remove that teacher . . . I'm not talking about the hearing process, I'm just talking about getting them out of the classroom. No other place has that in the state of Missouri but Saint Louis.

You might find Adam's statement difficult to believe. But he is correct. According to state law, if a teacher is doing a poor job, that teacher cannot be dismissed quickly. Instead, in Saint Louis City, the teacher needs to be notified in writing at least one semester before the superintendent can even present the charges against the teacher.

Actually, after looking over the statute, I think that Adams is being kind. One school semester is 87 days (half of the 174 required school days), and the law requires a 30-day notice before any hearing can occur. Once you start counting weekends, holidays, and everything else, it looks like it takes a lot more than just 100 days to remove a bad teacher from the classroom.

The city school district is struggling to boost student academic performance. It is one of the small number of unaccredited school districts in the state. And, it is common knowledge that teachers can have a large positive (or negative) impact on their students' education. That is exactly why laws that severely limit districts' ability to remove bad teachers hurt students.

Just think: Thanks to state law, an ineffective teacher could continue teaching students for more than 100 days. That teacher might have a little more job security, but those students will continue to receive a mediocre education. It is time to focus on helping students, instead of teacher job security.

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Audrey Spalding