Abused teachers

Lawmakers on Monday heard testimony from an attorney who argued that teachers need the state to pass a “bill of rights” to protect them from abusive administrators.

Charles Thompson told the Assembly Education Committee that the Clark County School District’s teacher shortage is caused in large part because the district mistreats and demeans its teachers, thus prompting high turnover.

He was lobbying in favor of Assembly Bill 459. It would set up a complicated and convoluted system governing the interaction between teachers and their principals and administrators.

To wit:

“Any meeting between a teacher and an administrator or representative of the school district which involves the performance, employment status, discipline or transfer of the teacher, or any complaint made by the teacher concerning his working conditions or the manner in which he has been treated, is subject to the provisions of this section.”

And this:

“If a meeting which is not subject to the provisions of this section is held between a teacher and an administrator or representative of the school district and, during the meeting, the administrator or representative raises an issue which subjects the meeting to the provisions of this section, the teacher must, upon request, be granted an immediate continuance of the meeting for not less than 24 hours to arrange for a person to represent him. …”

Blah, blah, blah. The bill drones on like this for two pages. Its intent is apparently to make it impossible for a principal to run his school without consulting a bevy of attorneys over even the most routine conversation with one of his charges.

Principal to teacher: “Let’s discuss the test scores of your students.”

Teacher: “Fine. I’ll see when my lawyer will be available.”

So much for the “empowerment school” models supported by Gov. Jim Gibbons and Clark County Superintendent Walt Rulffes.

Not surprisingly, a chief sponsor of AB459 is freshman Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, who moonlights as a private attorney and is no stranger to litigating the Clark County School District over employment issues.

AB459 would apply the same type of rigid personnel shackles that many school districts are just now finally trying to shed. It is the enemy of flexibility and innovation — two concepts sorely missing from the bureaucratic models typically embraced by our failing public school establishment.

If in fact Clark County teachers are being routinely “mistreated,” that is an issue which should be addressed through collective bargaining — or, better yet, by allowing hiring competition between schools — not through counterproductive legislative meddling.

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