Here’s a clip of United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten at last night’s candlelight vigil outside the Tweed Courthouse. In the clip she criticizes the Department of Education’s new improvement plan, which includes the "Teacher Performance Unit," a committee of lawyers to help school principles deal with sub-par teachers, particularly those with tenure.
In the clip, Weingarten references a letter Schools Chancellor Joel Klein sent to teachers yesterday. After the rally, a spokeswoman for the education department emailed that letter to reporters.
In it, Klein defends the plan for schools, saying:
"I was disappointed when a recent effort to expand our capacity to address this issue was so badly misunderstood and mischaracterized. Last year, only 10 out of 55,000 tenured teachers were removed from their position for incompetence. That’s two tenths of one percent. I do not believe that anyone can responsibly defend this miniscule percentage as appropriate. Given the research that children’s lives are profoundly and negatively affected by truly poor instruction, all of us have a moral duty to address this issue honestly and openly.
Accordingly, last week I announced steps to provide schools the support they need to handle the real burden of designing and providing intensive assistance to struggling tenured teachers—and then, but only then, take action if those efforts are unsuccessful over a reasonable period of time. To describe these modest steps as something bigger than it is, I believe, represents an unfair characterization that serves only to sow unwarranted concern."