Erik Loomis stands up for teachers by asserting that their professional skills are irrelevant to poor children:
If we really want to reform schools, we need to fight poverty. Schools can’t do anything if kids are unprepared, malnourished, with parents who are too poor and desperate to worry about their kids education, with cockroaches in the house. Without centering poverty as the real reason for educational problems, any attempt to reform schools is politicized and anti-teacher bullshit.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. But if this is seriously what you believe, then you ought to support a policy of layoffs and larger class sizes in low-poverty districts, across-the-board pay cuts for teachers, and re-purposing of the funds into a larger EITC or Child Tax Credit. I think that’s a terrible idea. I think that well-run schools are a worthy investment of public resources and that some teachers are capable of doing a great deal to help children overcome disadvantaged circumstances. What’s more, I think one of the main mechanisms through which income as such does impact student learning is that low-income families have difficulty buying into well-managed schools staffed by great teachers. But to increase the number of people able to attend well-managed schools staffed by great teachers, you need to actually increase the number of well-managed schools.
You don’t need to buy into any particular person’s view of what would do that, but for God’s sake don’t run around saying that in-school factors are irrelevant to student learning and then trumpet that as the One True Pro-Teacher philosophy.