So, I now work in a public school. I have many friends and friends-of-friends who are teachers, and a lot of smart and opinionated friends too. There's even some overlap between those categories. Right now the compensation of teachers is a point that's getting a lot of attention, so that makes me wonder how we can fix this system. I think most everyone, regardless of stance, agrees that the system is broken.
Here are some of the problems I see. (Keep in mind, this is strictly about teachers, not about the rest of the system... yet).
Tenure allows bad teachers to keep their jobs, doesn't provide a much in the way of encouragement for good teachers to get better, and discourages new teachers from trying to push boundaries. However, it does help protect teachers who have tenure from being punished when they do innovate or when they stand up to administration when trying to do what's best for students.
There isn't a good way to evaluate teachers (that I can think of) fairly to determine which teachers are the actual good teachers. Test scores as a basis encourages teaching to the test. Memorization isn't learning. The progress a student makes, or doesn't make can't be attributed to a single teacher, or even all of a student's teachers. Parents play a huge role (they should play the biggest role). There's also social factors, environmental factors, and personal factors. Peer evaluation, is questionable when the teachers are all competing for the same, limited funding. And you can't go by student evaluation. Teenagers aren't likely to evaluate based on objective standards.
So the question is: How do we evaluate teachers fairly and determine which teachers are doing good work, and then how do we retain and encourage those teachers, while weeding out the bad ones? I really want feedback on this.