Monday, February 17, 2014

Seniority Has No Privileges:Eliminating Teacher Tenure!

I've always equated age with wisdom, thus, leading me to believe that a veteran teacher has a lot to offer.

Of course, there are older teachers who refuse to change. They are teaching the way they used to be taught, and see the changes in education as
just another phase.  But there are a number of older teachers, myself included, who have changed, and shouldn't be thought of as someone who should be put out to pasture.

In the past few years, tenure has been under attack. When tenure is attacked, many veteran teachers fall victim. This article about tenure explains what tenure really is. Tenure is not a way to keep "bad" teachers in the classroom. That is a myth. Tenure is a way to make sure teachers receive due process. Unfortunately, this process is being taken away from teachers.

Two instances stand out for me. North Carolina is being battered.  They are a right-to-work state, they are suffering from pay cuts, and tenure has been removed. "Teacher tenure has been replaced by a merit-based system that rewards long-term contracts to the top 25 percent of teachers, and shorter contracts to everyone else."  When I asked the question regarding the criteria for the top 25%, one of my Facebook followers said that there is no criteria. Are you as scared as I am? I'm thinking of two ways off the top of my head that a teacher can be placed in the top 25%.  Test scores or your daddy is a good friend of an administrator. Can you say cheating scandal and/or nepotism? Cases like these, those who are really the top 25% wouldn't benefit.

In California, there is a lawsuit against tenure by students, and a Silicon valley mogul. This mogul set up a nonprofit group called StudentsMatter. The students say it is too easy to keep "bad" teachers because of tenure. Of course there are "bad" teachers. But does this mean you should strip away a process that benefits "good" teachers? They are also worried about seniority rules which allows the newest teachers to be fired, even if their performance is adequate. Of course, how teachers should be evaluated, is not part of this lawsuit.

There are many groups that have been formed to "get" teachers. It's unbelievable that a profession where the majority of its employees work hard, and go above and beyond for their students, are so reviled. StudentsMatter and other groups are already talking to people in other states about lawsuits to eliminate tenure. Think about it, if you were trying to destroy public education, and replace them with money-making charter schools,would you want unionized employees?

 If they win the lawsuit in California, watch out! No tenure and/or seniority may be coming to a district near you!


  1. I'm in my 29th year of teaching in California. Still taking classes, learning new things. But since I'm at the top of the salary schedule, I could be expendable if the billionaire prevails.

    1. Congrats! I hope they lose so we don't lose teachers like you!

  2. As an NC Teacher, I have to say that working in the North Carolina School System completely sucks. I have 25 more years until I can "official" retire and there is no way I'm going to make it that long. I would cut off my arm first! I hate everything about this school system and so do most of the teachers I've talked too. It's a shame, because I'm a good teacher. I get good evaluation and I love to teach, I just hate teaching here and all the politics. There is no one to stand up for teachers, the foundation of a school, of a classroom. Yes, we are definitely battered.

  3. I have been teaching close to 20 years and still love it. I look forward to going to work everyday. What I don't look forward to is the degradation of this cornerstone of American and international democracy. Teachers are held to a higher standard of ethics and social behavior, Therefore, we have a hard won right to due process. Especially because we are in the forefront of advocacy for children. We are sure to say things that will offend the powers that be. Tenure wasn't given to us, we fought for it. Especially during the McCarthy period when most left, and liberal thinkers were blacklisted. We are battered, and now must become our best political advocates.

    The California teacher tenure ruling and the war against public education
    13 June 2014

    Since taking office, President Obama has overseen the wiping out of 330,000 teaching and other school jobs, the closing of at least 4,000 schools and a doubling of the number of charter school students. New Orleans is now completely a charter school district, with Detroit not far behind. In the last few years alone, hundreds of schools have been closed in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, and other cities. In addition to direct funding of charters, the government provides tax breaks to encourage banks and hedge funds to invest in charter school construction.

  4. I wanted to say I stand somewhere in the middle between the two positions. I do not beleive that seniority alone should be deciding factor on whether a teacher comes back the next year, but at the same time, test scores alone shouldn't be either. While I think decent teachers should be able to come back, I do think there should be a way for the school districts to fire ineffective teachers, regardless of how many years they have been teaching. I have had my share of "awful teachers" and I have even failed a class or two because the teacher was horrible and shouldn't have been teaching.

    If I ran a school system, this would be my standard for whether a teacher should come back:

    1) Look at evaluations from students and parents. Is the teacher getting good ratings or reviews? If the reviews are consistently bad over and over, this might mean the teacher is worth getting rid of.

    2) Look at complaints from students and parents. If there is a high percentage of complaints about a teacher that go unresolved after a long period of time to resolve them, this may mean the teacher might be worth getting rid of.

    3) If the teacher has a very high percentage of their students getting D's and F's on many of their assignments, this tells me something is wrong. I do not mean one high stakes standardized test, but ordinary assignments and tests. I am not implying every kid is an A student, either, but in K-12 if a student does their work, it is not hard to get a C grade or better. A student who puts in more effort into their assignments can easily get a B grade or better in K-12. Even a few students getting a bad grade should not cause a teacher to be fired, but if a high percentage of that teachers students are failing, this needs to be looked at, and an investigation into the teaching methods of that teacher should be launched. If the teacher does nothing to improve their teaching methods and improve their classes performance through better teaching, it might be worth getting rid of the teacher.

    4) I also support the right to fire teachers for child abuse, sexual abuse, or severely harming a child.