Oregon legislators are quite pleased with themselves over a new law they passed to prevent school administrators from, in their words, "passing the trash." The law prohibits school administrators from engaging in a practice certainly not unique to Oregon school districts, in which secret deals are made between school districts and teachers who get caught misbehaving. In return for the teacher's resignation, the school agrees to keep the sordid, immoral or just pathetic details on the down low. Representative Sara Gelser touted the new bill as "the strongest anti-abuse legislation in the nation."
We're not feeling as confident as Ms. Gelser here. The statute is just as likely to drive such deals even further underground, not eliminate them. Perhaps instead of being made in the HR office, they'll be a wink-wink between principals and the teachers they want out. While ignoring criminal behavior may be illegal, ignoring less serious offenses covered by this legislation is not, and principals might be especially tempted to make an under-the-table arrangement in such cases.
What's the answer? Make firing teachers a lot easier and a lot cheaper. Until it takes less time and doesn't carry a price tag of tens of thousands of dollars to boot a deserving teacher out the door, there's no resolution here. Ask yourself what you would do as a principal whose first responsibility is to the children in your school building. If you could make a problem go away overnight in lieu of a battle royale, which would you choose?