http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/print/2011/06/the-failure-of-american-schools/8497/ In fact, notwithstanding union rhetoric that âtenure is merely due process,â firing a public-school teacher for non-performance is virtually impossible. In New York City, which has some 55,000 tenured teachers, we were able to fire only half a dozen or so for incompetence in a given year, even though we devoted significant resources to this effort. The extent of this âno one gets firedâ mentality is difficult to overstateâor even adequately describe. Steven Brill wrote an eye-opening piece in The New Yorker about the ârubber roomsâ in New York City, where teachers were kept, while doing no work, pending resolution of the charges against themâmostly for malfeasance, like physical abuse or embezzlement, but also for incompetence. The teachers got paid regardless. (To add insult to injury, these cases ultimately were heard by an arbitrator whom the union had to first approve.) Before we stopped this charadeâunfortunately by returning many of these teachers to the classroom, as the arbitrators likely would have requiredâit used to cost the City about $35 million a year. In addition, more than 1,000 teachers get full pay while performing substitute-teacher and administrative duties because no principal wants to hire them full-time. This practice costs more than $100 million annually. Perhaps the most shocking example of the Cityâs having to pay for teachers who donât work involves several teachers accused of sexual misconductâincluding at least one who was found guiltyâwhom the union-approved arbitrators refuse to terminate. Although the City is required to put them back in the classroom, it understandably refuses to do so. And the union has never sued the City to have these teachers reinstated, even though it knows it could readily win. It has also never helped figure out how to get these deadbeats off the payroll, where they may remain for decades at full pay, followed by a lifetime pension. No oneâand the union means no oneâgets fired.