I had a wonderful conversation with a public school teacher yesterday. There was much agreement between us, so I won't reveal her name, lest she be ostracized by her more militant peers.
Of particular interest to me was our discussion on the problem of ineffective teachers. For starters, she acknowledged quite readily that there are some teachers that need to go. But she seemed to defend to some degree the current method to remove lousy teachers, a method created via collective bargaining. To me this should have caused her a bit of cognitive dissonance because on the one hand she recognizes the need to get rid of lousy teachers while on the other hand she defended a process that makes it all but impossible.
My own view is that an education system that is unable to root out lousy teachers isn't really "for the children" and ought to be an embarrassment for teachers serious about educating children.
Of course there is no utopian solution to the problem. That said, there must be a method for firing, not relocating, lousy teachers. That power should be held by an administrator who is in turn held accountable for his/her decisions. It is true that an administrator might wrongly fire a teacher, or worse, do so for nefarious reasons. Again, this should lead to the firing of an unprofessional administrator. And so on up the chain of command.
This task is much harder when the organization is a political one and harder still if the organization is large. Smaller units, say, individual schools, held responsible for results would be a step in the right direction. Of course this takes power away from the teachers union. That is what should happen because it is the teachers union which created a system that makes it all but impossible to fire a lousy teacher. The union too should be held responsible for their lousy results.