Last year, Adam Gray was named the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. Despite the honor, Gray, who is in his twenties, was dismissed from his South Boston high school shortly thereafter because of rules that make seniority more important than performance when deciding layoffs. He now teaches at the prestigious Boston Latin.
Not surprisingly, follies like this are commonly cited as examples of how archaic practices persist in education. Yet focusing on these absurd examples to score some easy points — as is typical in the education debate — obscures the larger, far more serious systemic problems that underlie them.