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View Diary: Teacher Tenure (59 comments)

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  •  An Explanation (2+ / 0-)
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    elfling, Mostel26

    Few realize that education employees are all annual contractual workers and work in an extremely political environment. Tenure does not ensure the right to a job, but rather "continual contractual status" in which one's contract is automatically renewed annually unless there is cause not to do so such as poor performance or enrollment decline. This makes doing things like qualifying a mortgage possible for teachers.

    Unlike private sector workers, teachers and administrators serve hundreds of community members who serve as their "boss" daily rather than just a direct supervisors or two. Administrators, especially high profile positions like principals or superintendents, answer directly to a Board of Education which is made up directly of these community members. There is no tenure for administrators in their administrative capacity.

    Due to this, administrators generally have a very short career length, especially superintendents. Off the top of my head I believe the average time at one position for superintendents in IL under three years. This is often due to regular changeover in school board members (and associated politics) many of whom come to office with a cause or axe to grind on top of their lack of experience in education (or education law, school finance, etc.).

    Tenure ensures that political pressure exerted on an administrator is not utilized to dismiss a teacher due to anything other than poor performance. Reasons prior to tenure could range from dismissal for political views, teaching the wrong type of science, or nepotism or cronyism.

    Teachers by an large have "good motivation" to be good teachers by the very nature of their jobs. Teaching is a demanding profession that is painful if not done well. I can only speak for IL, but here tenure is earned through four consecutive full time years of employment (which can be extended to five should performance warrant). That's four years of proving one's "good motivation" that doesn't just vanish once one achieves tenure any more than a person's character and moral judgement vanishes after being proven.

    Administrators often have similar "good motivation" but are in an overtly political position that generally supersedes their motivation to do good with the intrinsic need to retain their position, hence a propensity to "bad motivation" from outside influences such as board politics or threats of litigation from a parent who rationally or irrationally feels aggrieved.

    Your argument seems to be one of "private sector workers don't have this, so why should teachers". I'd suggest that this is a "race to the bottom" argument that seeks to divide. Tenure is not a cause of nor defends "bad teachers" especially given that tenure laws in no way prevent dismissal for cause.

    If teaching is so easy, see if you can last longer than the five years in the classroom 50% of those who enter the profession never make it to.

    by michael in chicago on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 03:10:34 PM PST

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    •  The argument is that other public sector workers (0+ / 0-)

      don't seem to have or need tenure, to the extent it exceeds standard civil service protections.   Keep in mind though, that I am speaking of NY specifically and tenure may mean different things in different jurisdictions.

      •  I am not familiar with the in-depth (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        details of tenure vs. civil service, but the issue of last hired-first fired and the general civil service protections that I observe watching our county budgeting process from a distance seem quite similar to the rules for teachers and tenure.

        In my county, this is creating a problem for the sheriff's department, because the last hired deputy is funded entirely by grants and just received some special training. Firing this new deputy doesn't save the department any money, but the civil service rules say they can't lay off anyone else until he is laid off.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 05:18:56 PM PST

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