Saturday, March 04, 2017

Teacher Tenure And Retention.

Over the years teacher tenure has been under attack.  Even in deep blue and union friendly States like California and New York.  Education reform groups and their media allies have presented teacher tenure as allowing teachers lifetime job protection by keepimg their positions despite committing misconduct or being incompetent.  The truth is far different.  Teacher tenure is granted only after two to five years of continuous satisfactory service and must be awarded by the Superintendent.  Moreover, teachers who earn tenure are awarded the right to a full and fair hearing by an independent arbitrator if the school district charges the teacher with either incompetence or misconduct/  By contrast, untenured teachers can be discontinued for any or no reason whatsoever.

The reason that teachers need tenure are as follows:

  1. Tenure protects teachers from being fired for inappropriate reasons. Before tenure teachers were fired for political, personal, and other non-teaching reasons.  Teachers were also fired for teaching evolution and for simply questioning school board decisions.
  2. Tenure protects teachers from false accusations.  A popular saying is that "when does a teenager lie?  When they open their mouth".  Was replaced that children lie except when its about their teacher.
  3. Teacher tenure makes teachers better educators.  Tenure allows teachers to experiment with different and more effective ways to improve student academic performance.
  4. Tenure protects good teachers from being fired because they are too expensive or too old.
  5. Tenure allows teachers to stand up and question administrative decisions that are detrimental to student learning.
In many "right to work" states, teacher tenure is limited or eliminated.  In these states where teacher tenure does not exist, teacher salaries are low, teacher turnover is high, and teacher shortages are becoming an ever increasing problem, especially for urban and high poverty schools.  The latest example is Louisiana where teacher tenure was eliminated for teachers and replaced by one year evaluations, based upon student Common Core based test scores.  The result is that the State has seen a significant exodus of teachers, especially veteran teachers and are currently experiencing a severe teacher shortage.

The Louisiana experience is not surprising since charter schools, where teacher tenure does not exist, experiences high teacher turnover and usually has difficulty retaining teachers for more than two years.  Its not unusual to see 50% of the staff turnover every tear in the charter schools. Is it little wonder that the charter schools are always hiring Teach For America "newbies" who usually stay only two years in the classroom anyway?

Without a stable teaching staff the student body experiences  transient adult instructors and believe its their fault that teachers are here today and gone tomorrow.  How does that help the student's  self worth?  It doesn't of course.  Teacher retention is a major ingredient in student academic achievement and tenure is the carrot that keeps teachers from leaving a school for a better and more respected job outside of the classroom.  In other words, teacher tenure is necessary for teacher retention and long-term student academic achievement.


Philip Nobile said...

After two Satisfactory years I was denied tenure in my third probationary year at Cobble Hill in 2004 owing to FIVE crushing U-ratings in the second term. But alas, after my protest on retaliation grounds, Superintendent Marcia Lyles reversed my slam dunk discontinuance saying "that there was not enough documentation in Nobile’s file to support [Principal Lennel] George’s end of the year unsatisfactory rating of Nobile." Not enough documentation? For a probationer?? They lie even when they do the proper thing.

Anonymous said...

If NY becomes a right to work state, tenure laws will still be in place. Tenure is a part of NYS law and will not be effected by right to work. The real problem is that tenure is pretty meaningless right now in NYS. 2 ineffective ratings and the burden of proof is on the teacher at a 3020a hearing. Tenure does nothing to protect teachers.

Anonymous said...

Unless and until someone challenges the DOE in court to say that they violated state law by putting the burden on the teacher. That it is essentially illegal because it does not allow for proper due process.