The Oprah Debate

So my hubby and I love us some Oprah. We are taping the final season so we can watch it after the kids go to bed. Sadly we were really upset about the shows content on Monday about education. For those of you who may not have saw it was based on the documentary coming out "Waiting for Superman" and a lot of the episode was our bad teacher get tenured and then they teach forever and it is hurting our kids. As a teacher I would be the first to admit that bad teachers need to go. No Question, No Comment, No Buts...Bad teachers no matter how long they have been teaching need to be fired. That being me the debate is about how do we judge what is bad. As a parent I know that parents feel very strongly about having a good teacher for their child (and they should). Yet, I am concerned over who and what decides a good teacher. I think that teachers should be evaluated by a department head and other veteran good teachers and evaluated on how they teach, their relationship with their students, and their ability to prepare students for tests as well as content material. What I never want to be judged on is if my students are able to take and pass a test. I teach lower level kids who for a variety of reasons they can not no matter what I do, be able to pass certain standardized tests. I would hate to see good teachers, who love their job and are good at it, be fired for students not meeting standards.

So what are your thoughts? How should a teacher be "graded"? Who should grade them? What is considered failing?