L.A. school district spent millions firing just seven teachers; paid $50,000 bribes to dozens more 

I wrote my column today on the difficulties of firing poor performers in the federal workforce. Well, it turns out that the federal government is a paragon of efficiency when compared with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the largest school district in the country. There's some infuriating details in this excellent L.A. Weekly investigation:

In the past decade, LAUSD officials spent $3.5 million trying to fire just seven of the district's 33,000 teachers for poor classroom performance — and only four were fired, during legal struggles that wore on, on average, for five years each. Two of the three others were paid large settlements, and one was reinstated. The average cost of each battle is $500,000.

During our investigation, in which we obtained hundreds of documents using the California Public Records Act, we also discovered that 32 underperforming teachers were initially recommended for firing, but then secretly paid $50,000 by the district, on average, to leave without a fight. Moreover, 66 unnamed teachers are being continually recycled through a costly mentoring and retraining program but failing to improve, and another 400 anonymous teachers have been ordered to attend the retraining.

And Mickey Kaus observes that, as usual, Democratic politicians indebted to powerful teachers union constituencies are responsible for enabling this unbelievable situation:

P.S.: According to LA Weekly, the teacher retraining program that lets teachers with bad evaluations remain in the classroom even if they don't improve was "engineered" in 2000 by a state assemblyman named Antonio Villaraigosa, who is now L.A.'s mayor.

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Mark Hemingway

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