D'Amato: Time To 'Shake Up' School System
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Dec. 27) -- A senior Republican senator called Saturday for "massive fundamental reform" in U.S. public schools, including competency tests and merit pay for teachers and the end of lifetime tenure.
"We cannot be satisfied with merely tinkering at the edges of the problem," said Sen. Al D'Amato, R-N.Y., who gave Saturday's Republican radio address. "We need to shake the system up."
"Public school teachers still make a difference for millions of our children. Unfortunately, however, magic does not take place for every child in every classroom, and that's sad. We can do better," he said.
The senator, whose recent criticism of New York teachers has won him the enmity of their unions, called for the replacement of lifetime tenure with renewable tenure, under which teachers' performances would be re-evaluated every five years.
"Those teachers who have succeeded in the classroom would be retained and some given merit raises, while those how have failed our children would be replaced by teachers who can do better," D'Amato said.
The senator also called for competency testing of all teachers to make sure "those who teach our children are competent in the subjects they teach."
D'Amato also said school principals should be given "fast track authority" to remove violent or disruptive students from the classroom.
"We must insist that the classrooms become an oasis of learning instead of a place where children can be subjected to violence and drugs," he said.
A number of the changes D'Amato is proposing put him at odds with powerful teachers unions in his home state. His Senate seat is up for election in 1998.
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Weekend Dec. 27 & 28, 1997
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