A former head of the United Federation of Teachers once famously said "When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children." Albert Shanker wasn't far off the mark there.
Reforming how teachers are hired and fired is an essential part of reforming education. You can't fix a system using the same faulty parts. People much smarter than I have tried and some have succeeeded in adding better parts to fix the whole, but unless you reform the HOW the parts work, you can't fix the system. Consider this op-ed from the New York Post by Joel Klein, who oversaw one of the greatest increases in public school performance in this country.
More recommended reading of Mr. Klein was in the May 9, 2011 Wall Street Journal.
Bottom line on this aspect of this topic is this:
If we don't represent the interests of our students, if we don't hire and fire based on merit alone, if we continue to put the needs of the worthless above the needs of those we serve then our educational system will continue to decline. As that decline spreads, so does the decline of this nation of ours.