What can be done about bad teachers? Asked with increasing urgency by school reformers, that also was among the questions The Times' editorial board posed to Steve Zimmer during his successful March 3 campaign for the Los Angeles Unified school board.
Zimmer, a teacher working with at-risk students at Marshall High School, agreed that bad teachers make up a significant minority in the LAUSD. As an educator, he said, he makes an effort to keep his vulnerable students out of the classrooms of certain teachers. That's good for his students, but most parents aren't in a position to work the system.
Zimmer will take his seat on the board in July, in a district where non-tenured teachers are at great risk of being laid off this year while inept or uncaring teachers who have tenure will stay. Meanwhile, a Times investigation published Sunday presented further evidence of a problem this page has long deplored: The process for firing a teacher is so lengthy, tortuous and stacked against school districts that many administrators don't bother trying except in the most extreme cases. And while the separation process drags on for years, a bad teacher either continues to influence the lives of hundreds of students or draws a salary for manning a desk.