Editorial: Beaverton transfers hurt students

Published Nov 14, 2012 at 04:00AM

The teacher transfer mess going on in the Beaverton School District is proof positive that our educational system is not about the students.

A few cases in point:

• A high school history teacher was transferred to teach algebra to seventh graders.

• International Baccalaureate teachers were transferred out and untrained teachers transferred in, costing thousands of dollars in training.

• An elementary music teacher moved to teach English language development.

These are just a few of the cases, as reported in The Oregonian, in which the district has reassigned teachers to roles they are less competent to fulfill.

Damage was sure to be great as financial pressures forced the district to cut 344 positions. But this particular added insult to student learning comes gratis state law and union rules regarding licensure and seniority. Lots of rules and laws and contract language apply, apparently none concerned with putting the most competent teacher at the head of every class. The district estimates 160 teachers have landed in “significantly different positions,” according to The Oregonian.

This fiasco is unfolding at the same time the state and nation are focused on improving the evaluation process for teachers, in service to the supposedly newly proved notion that the most important factor for student learning is the caliber of the teacher. Most of us didn’t need a study to tell us that.

The absurdity in Beaverton has prompted some parents to start exploring changes at the legislative and union level. They want to require districts to consider competency when they transfer teachers. Good idea.