Tenure

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Grover, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. Grover

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    I'm going to take a probably unpopular and certainly unexpected (if you've been reading my other posts) position here: I think we should get rid of tenure for public school teachers because they don't deserve it.

    Now, it's not that they don't deserve, in general, job security, but tenure is about something besides just job security. Tenure exists in the higher academic world to protect academics with unpopular views. It's about defending the ability of people to pursue knowledge wherever it leads and to speak truth to power. Tenured teachers in our school system by and large don't do either of these things. They don't stand up against idiotic policies and programs thrust on them by the political sector until those policies end up threatening their jobs despite tenure. They don't speak up when policy runs counter to science and experience. They don't stand up to administrators who misuse their power or simply don't do their jobs.
    Of course, you, personally, are an exception to this, but you have only to look around your school or your district, let alone the nation in general, to see a culture of quiet acquiescence to whatever rolls down the particular hill you're on, from grade inflation, absurd testing schemes, the virtual elimination of arts, science and physical education, developmentally inappropriate programs and methods and so on.
    If what I saw, as a general rule, was teachers using tenure as a bastion from which to struggle for better, more sensible and equitable conditions in their work place to support better practices for the benefit of their clients, I'd flip on this issue in a heartbeat, but sadly, that's not what I see.
     
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  3. KinderCowgirl

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    I think the tenure you are describing pertains more to collegiate level instructors. Tenure in public schools, I believe, exists more to protect experienced teachers from being cut for financial reasons. Someone who has been teaching for 20 years on our pay scale makes considerably more than a brand-new teacher. Fiscally, schools may think it's worth 2 new teacher salaries to cut a master teacher-tenure protects their jobs in that respect.
     
  4. TiffanyL

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    Tenure is not as complicated nor as negative as some would think. The answer to tenure is to make sure we have administrators who use those first 2 years of a teacher's experience wisely.

    The only teachers who abuse tenure are those who should never have received tenure to begin with.

    Training admin on how to know an effective teacher from a non-effective teacher is essential. Training admin on how to know how to provide the right amount of support......enough to encourage success but not so much that this teacher will can't survive without a babysitter. Our most phenomenal teachers are those who were phenomenal right out of the gate. You know the ones...."Wow! You don't even seem like a first year teacher."

    Stop tenuring low quality teachers.....that will make a big difference.
     
  5. FourSquare

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    Nobody was there to protect my Father after 25 years at his job. He was deemed too expensive, told to go home, and immediately replaced by a 19 year old at $10 an hour. I'm sure the kid was fine, but my Dad could run circles around him.




    Exactly. I have no problem with protecting veteran teachers, but there should be STRICT standards for receiving such protection. Or do away with it alltogether.

    I think if tenure was stripped tomorrow you'd see thousands of teachers seriously upping their game. It'd be an interesting experiment.
     
  6. Grover

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    Kinder, I agree with your assessment, and I do think teachers need job security- but so does everyone else. Ultimately, as we are seeing in the current economic crunch, employers always try to put the burden of cost-saving on employees when they can get away with it. They usually find a way, unless the employees have the unity to force their own requirements into the mix. Tenure, as it exists in public schools, mostly serves to undermine that unity, to create distinct classes of teachers with opposing interests, and to create a sense of complacency about job security issues. A strong union is better protection than tenure, as we'll see when the 'Fire 'em all, hire half back' policy goes into effect.
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I'll knock tenure when I'm tenured here in a few months. Until then, my lips are zipped! :)
     
  8. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    I understand this point. However, I sincerely do not know why teachers merit this protection while other career people do not?
     
  9. Grover

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    I agree with these points as such, but if you look at the broader context it gets complicated again. For instance, it's notoriously hard to get teachers to work in inner-city poverty schools or in tiny town in the back of beyond. To get teachers for these positions often requires either major monetary enticements or a lowering of standards. Since the money isn't there even to pay normal salaries, "Not quitting" is a good reason to grant tenure in some schools.


    As a side issue, I'd also like you to look at your remarks and apply them to students. 'Our most phenomenal students are the ones who were phenomenal right out of the gate'. Well, this is frequently, though not always, true, something that applies to teachers as well. Yet, if the idea is to have a broad community of successful learners, we don't simply boot those that have initial struggles. Sometimes we even go so far (or at least we did before NCLB) as to say," perhaps the problem here isn't with this child, it's the mismatch between this child and what we're doing." Success in school is not necessarily the same thing as success as a learner, and success teaching in a particular school is not necessarily the same thing as a success as a teacher. There are certainly 'bad teachers' in the profession, but given the serious problems that our whole educational system is suffering from, I don't think one can say that doing badly in that system is the same as being a bad teacher.
     
  10. KinderCowgirl

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    That's true and I can't think of a single reason why it is that way for us. I will also agree that some teachers should never have been given tenure and that you can usually tell a good teacher out of the gate. I also think there are experienced teachers who probably were once good teachers, however get burnt out or lose interest in really teaching. I think that's even worse than an ineffective new teacher and with tenure, they are harder to get rid of.
     
  11. TechGuy

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    If you look at the quality of life for teachers that have a union and tenure vs the ones that don't have a union and tenure, you will see a big difference!

    Teachers without tenure are terminated at will of the admin, for any reason. Often times it's because of pay! One of the benefits of becoming a teacher was the ability of getting good a good pension, medical, and tenure, even though the pay was lower for all the work and degree(s) required!

    So instead of enjoying a perk, we should strip everything away because other jobs dont have it? how does that make sense? So if they start teachers at 26k at private schools, they should do the same for all teachers?
     
  12. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Interesting discussion. I have been trying to think of other occupations that you leave ( without pay) at the end of the school year( like non tenured teachers) and don't know if you will have a job until a couple of months later? I even did some google searches and came up empty handed. Can someone offer some choices?
     
  13. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I support tenure. I can't talk about every state, but in Oklahoma our tenure is called career status. Even if a teacher is career status, principals have the right to fire them if they are not performing their duties. Most of the time, prinicipals don't want to do the paperwork to do it. Guess what, I don't want to do the paperwork to do IEPs, but that is my job. Yes, I have seen teachers that need to retire and need to be fired. But the ultimate responsibility is on the back of the administration. If they did their job, we would have better quaility of teachers---tenured or not!
     
  14. PowerTeacher

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    I would agree with KinderCowgirl. In my state teacher's unions are illegal. Tenure offers a very slight protection for good teachers and not nearly what some folks seem to think.

    Administrators who are very political have little or no trouble eliminating teachers at will. There are many ways around tenure, the protection it provides is tenuous at best.

    As an example, I know a teacher who was well respected by parents, and widely liked by students. He ran afoul of one parent who was very connected politically. This parent objected to the fact that the teacher would not give the child high marks even though the child completed next to no work. Any disruptive actions by the child were obviously the fault of the teacher.

    This teacher was brought in to a meeting by the superintendent, the human resources director, and his principal, who had assured him he was there to help the teacher defend his actions, and provide evidence the teacher had done no wrong.

    In the meeting the teacher found in the first moments that the mind of the superintendent and the HR director were already made up. The principal unexpectedly turned on the teacher offering "evidence" of the teacher doing things he should not have been doing, which had nothing to do with the stated purpose of the meeting.

    The human resources director told the teacher he would be reviewed by the school board. He directed this teacher to send him, the HR guy, evidence of what the teacher claimed the student was doing through his county email, not to use any other source.

    Surprised, the teacher said little. After the meeting the treacherous principal said he wanted to talk to the teacher in the parking lot. The principal told the teacher he had been ambushed. That the superintendent and the HR director had been told by the school board that their jobs were in jeopardy for not being more accountable to parents because of incidents in the high school. This was a middle school teacher. The teacher was further told that the principal had learned he was one of four people who had been chosen to be eliminated due to a lack of political connections, making them easy targets. In this fashion the super, and HR man were making themselves appear more on the ball. The principal had been told in no uncertain terms that he must cooperate or his job would be forfeit as well.

    This teacher went immediately to his school room to send the HR guy the information requested. He found that in the short time it took him to get there, less than ten minutes, the HR guy had removed his access to the county email system. If the teacher did not send the files requested through county email he would be accused of refusing to follow the HR guy's instructions. If he sent the requested information from home the HR man could show that the teacher had not followed instructions and sent the information in a way he had been told not to use.

    The principal told the teacher he could fight but it would have been useless. The teacher had little proof. The HR man was vindictive and would have forced the tenured teacher onto an action plan, and trumped up some excuse to "prove" that he should be fired the next year.

    The teacher resigned from the school system. Tenure had offered him no protection at all.
     
  15. newbie1234

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    I don't think tenure should be eliminated, but in some states it should be reformed. Nobody likes working with lazy, incompetent teachers; it just means more work for the vast majority of us hard-working types.

    For one thing, tenure isn't just based on seniority in universities. Professors usually have to apply for tenure. An application process means that administrators must be competent enough to evaluate such applications. That would require retraining for the vast majority of administrators.

    Another possibility would be to lengthen the amount of time it takes to get tenured. In my state, teachers are tenured after just three years. Again, that would only make a difference if administrators are willing and able to use the extra time to weed out incompetent teachers.

    Most of the merit pay plans and plans for eliminating tenure completely ignore the problem of incompetent administrators, or even competent administrators who are untrained in making sound personnel decisions. Without well-trained administrators, limiting or eliminating tenure is just as risky as the system we have now (where the risk is bad teachers sticking around while good teachers are let go).
     
  16. Grover

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    Farm labor is the only one I can think of.
     
  17. Jem

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    I've worked for many different types of systems, and they all have their pros and cons. My inner city union refused to even visit my school site, even after three filed grievances, because we were all first year teachers at the school and bound to quit after our first year anyhow.

    I worked at a private school with no tenure and no union, and suffered the result of zero protection-termination with no notice, no evaluations and very weak rational.

    I am back at a private school with no tenure and no union-contracts are renewed each year. The directors are fabulous, verbal praise me for my work and give bonuses to those who work hard. And if there is an issue, they simply talk to me and we fix it. I've made mistakes, but I'm willing to learn from them, and they respect that. I find myself working late hours, going beyond my job and being as flexible as possible with complete joy in my heart because I know I'm VALUED. To me, that's worth giving up tenure and a union that doesn't care anyhow.

    I think in any situation, it comes down to how your admins and directors show leadership, kindness and empathy, and how they redirect if you need help. If you have a nasty admin and tenure, what good is that??
     
  18. newbie87

    newbie87 Comrade

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    One question, though. To those against tenure, if you were offered it: would you turn it down?
     
  19. Grover

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    Whoa, that was a thread killer! For my own part, the question is moot as I have no intention of working in the public system. If I were to, if I had my druthers I'd rather have a strong union than tenure.
     
  20. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    In my district, tenure is not something you turn down. When it is your turn, if you have earned it, tenure is automatic. The only way you turn it down is to resign.
     
  21. TechGuy

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    but if you had the choice though, would you take it or decline it?
     
  22. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I would take it...why turn it down? By the way, I have been teaching 18 years. I have changed jobs three times--starting fresh, no tenure. I have taken classes and workshops to get endorsements in several areas, I have become National Board Certified and even recertified this year, and I am starting my Masters. I resent that some---not all, but some---people on this site equate tenure with laziness or bad teaching. I teach one of the harder grades in the district. I do it without curriculum. AND I do it well. --- Just ask my students, their parents, my peers, and my administration.
     
  23. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    If it was between taking tenure and quitting, I'd obviously take the tenure. My school doesn't offer tenure so it's a moot point.
     
  24. TechGuy

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    But if tenure was optional, would you decline it?
     
  25. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    It is unfortunate that people equate tenure with laziness.
     
  26. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I absolutely would take it.
     
  27. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I think tenure is a good idea to protect experienced teachers from being cut for less experienced, i.e. less expensive teachers. It makes sense then, that perhaps the requirements for being tenured should be different, or more rigid.

    My father, who was not a teacher but an electrician, worked at 1 plant for 30 years. At the end of it, they laid him off because he made too much money. This should never happen.
     
  28. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Good point!
     
  29. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    :thumb: Agreed. Perhaps some tenured teachers might be lazy, but I would think those are the minority. Most of the teachers I know are very passionate about teaching and do their very best. Honestly, I don't know how anyone could survive this profession if they felt otherwise.

    I will add that I know a principal who had a tenured teacher fired. It was a very involved process (from what I hear), but the teacher had no business being in a classroom with children. So, just because a teacher is tenured, it doesn't mean they can do whatever they want. It does mean, however, that the administration has to go through quite a bit to release the unfit teacher; however, we need to have dedicated administration willing to put their students' best interest first.
     
  30. JustMe

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    I agree, Emily.
     
  31. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Tenure does not exist for public school teachers. At least not here. The word is not in my contract.

    What we have is "permanent status" which means we can only be fired with cause. This is different from a tenured university professor who can't be fired -- period.

    Teachers' job security is no different that that which is enjoyed by cops, firefighters, garbage collectors, court reporters and most unionized employees in the private sector. The only difference is that while their probationary period is generally six months, ours is over two years.

    What makes bad teachers hard to fire is that the school district must be able to prove in court that the person was genuinely a bad teacher, which is a very subjective term. For example, a bad teacher when I first entered the field in the early 90's, might very well get accolades for doing the exact same things they did back then.

    Tenure at the university level is generally protection against being fired for any reason because any thing a professor might do - even something unethical or illegal - could be deemed legitimate research and to fire the person for it would deny them their academic freedom.

    At the K-12 level, that's not the case. I have very little academic freedom. If I decided to ditch our reading program and instead use my class as a platform to preach the virtues of vegetarianism or being a U2 fan, they would be all over my butt in a New York minute.

    BTW, I'm not a vegetarian. That was just an example. But I can give you directions to Bono's house.
     
  32. JustMe

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    Good post, Sarge.
     
  33. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Decline....IF I could confidently say my school hired/fired based on performance. Wouldn't I be a big fat hypocrite if I didn't? Also, I don't plan to give anyone any reason to want me fired. If somebody hates me so bad that they'd go out of their way to have me fired, then this is not the school environment I'd like to be working in. :whistle:

    Otherwise I'd like to think I have enough self-awareness to know when I'm completely ineffective and ready to throw in the towel. When we reach the day that the kids deserve better than what I have to offer, I will bow out gracefully.
     
  34. JackTrader

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    Exactly - why should we be all "racing for the bottom?"
     
  35. Grover

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    That's a big 'IF.' That, really, is the point of tenure, 'permanent hire' status, etc.
     
  36. roseteacher12

    roseteacher12 Habitué

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    Someone may have mentioned this already--but I know in my area teaching jobs are VERY much about who you know. I think if tenure was taken away it would be very easy to get rid of teachers for the hell of it because your best friend's daughter recently graduated and needs a job. I could easily see that happening because it already happens now with teacher who are not yet tenured. they are constantly getting pushed out for teachers who "know someone"
     
  37. ecsmom

    ecsmom Habitué

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    I agree. I also think Sarge's post was very well put.
     
  38. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I have tenure, a strong union, and a supportive administration. I feel valued, have a good reputation which I've earned. I earned my tenure with good performance, energy, professionalism and passion for what I do and I continue to perform in these areas to a high standard-not because I am tenured or not, but because I don't know how to do any differently. I am a professional who cares deeply about education.

    In NJ, with the current budget cuts, even tenured teachers are at risk in some districts where deep cuts have been made.

    In the case of teachers who no longer are good at their jobs, there ARE ways for administration to 'guide them out' or get rid of them...it's not easy but it is do-able.
     
  39. FourSquare

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    Right. I agree with protection from financial cuts...but there are a hell of a lot of teachers using tenure as a crutch for performance reasons, not economical. What if we just got rid of it and said "Survival of the fittest! If you're good we have to pay you."

    This could backfire and probably will never be attempted because nobody can agree on what "good" means, but, I like to imagine.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  40. newbie87

    newbie87 Comrade

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    :thumb: I agree, that's why I don't understand these whole points of I hate tenure. I just think a lot of people get their panties in a bunch their school/state doesn't offer tenure. No offense to anyone, if the situation is you work in a private school, you know what the deal was upon taking the job. So, if you wanted tenure, you should have taken a public school job.
     

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