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In case you missed it the other day, Whoopi Goldberg pulled a Jenny McCarthy on The View. Only she wasn't talking about vaccinations, she was talking about due process rights for teachers. And with a platform that big, one would hope that she would have done her research.

But alas, she did not. She repeated every single myth and lie about due process rights.

Naturally, teachers were not happy. And they responded. So much so, that Whoopi had to make the following video:

Now. Before we go further, let me tell you what tenure is NOT.

TENURE IS NOT PERMANENT LIFETIME EMPLOYMENT

Let me repeat that:

TENURE IS NOT PERMANENT LIFETIME EMPLOYMENT

Tenure simply means that a teacher has earned the right to not be fired without cause. That teacher has earned the right to an evidential hearing in front of an arbitrator. And more often than not, when a teacher is brought before the arbitrator, that teacher is fired.

BAD TEACHERS GET FIRED ALL THE TIME

Let me repeat:

BAD TEACHERS GET FIRED ALL THE TIME

Now listen to one of the responses to Whoopi's remarks:

I hope you watched all six and a half minutes of that video. It encapsulates everything perfectly.

Also, there was a Twitter explosion using the hashtag #WithoutTenure

And it goes on and on.

Jump below the Chee-to for more, including the answer to the question "What's so special about teachers that they get these due process rights and other workers don't?"

There is also another aspect to not having due process protections. Peter Greene, the blogger and educator behind Curmuducation, cross-posted this article at HuffPo:

Without Tenure: It's not the firing, it's the threatening

The threat of firing, of course is the "do this or else..." statement. In education, that can have disastrous consequences for a child. Remember, teacher working conditions are student learning conditions.

Give my child the lead in the school play, or else. Stop assigning homework to those kids, or else. Implement these bad practices, or else. Keep quiet about how we are going to spend the taxpayers' money, or else. Forget about the bullying you saw, or else. Don't speak up about administration conduct, or else. Teach these materials even though you know they're wrong, or else. Stop advocating for your students, or else.

Firing simply stops a teacher from doing her job.

The threat of firing coerces her into doing the job poorly.

The lack of tenure, of due process, of any requirement that a school district only fire teachers for some actual legitimate reason -- it interferes with teachers' ability to do the job they were hired to do. It forces teachers to work under a chilling cloud where their best professional judgment, their desire to advocate for and help students, their ability to speak out and stand up are all smothered by people with the power to say, "Do as I tell you, or else."

And we've all heard and seen Koch-funded Tea Party school boards winning election after election. Imagine what those schools are like. Imagine what they would be without teachers with the protection to stand up and fight for their children.

Now, to the question "Why should teachers get tenure when no one else does?"

The answer is as simple as Public vs. Private.

In a private company, each employee may be judged on what is "doing a good job" under different criteria--The Vice President in charge of R&D will be judged differently than a welder on the line, for instance. However, all of these different interests dovetail into ONE overarching premise:

"Does it serve the Company's interests? What are you doing to make the Company more profitable?"

Simple and direct.

In a school, however, you have a VERY different story:

An elementary teacher may have, say twenty five students in the room. Each of them has their own interests to be served, plus the interests of their parents (which may not match, either). Chris may want his child taught to be a killer mathematician with strict focus on academics, while Pat might want her child to be nurtured and made to feel happy and whole. But the elementary teacher also has to serve the interests of the building administration and the district administration and whatever other supervisors she may have. And on top of that she must serve the interests of the state and federal government, who have imposed their own set of expectations. Let's also throw in the school board members, who bring their own many and varied interests to the table.

If our hypothetical teacher takes on other duties, she now serves more sets of interests. Does she coach? Every player and parent bring their own set of interests to the game. Is she a union rep? There are more interests to be served. And on top of all of these, the one interest a teacher is never supposed to serve is her own. "Enlightened self-interest" is a virtue in business, but nobody touts it for teachers.

A private employee serves one master-- the company.

A public school teacher serves several hundred masters. And on any given day, many of those masters will fight for ascendency. A teacher cannot serve all of those interests, and yet that is the teacher's mandate. Tenure is meant to shield the teacher from the political fallout of these battles, to give the teacher the freedom to balance all these interests as she sees best.

I hope you can see the difference.

UPDATE:  Here is the official response to Whoopi Goldberg from the Badass Teacher Association.

Originally posted to zenbassoon on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 10:26 AM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge.

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