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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Teacher tenure makes teachers better educators. Tenure allows teachers to experiment with different and more effective ways to improve student academic performance.
- Tenure protects good teachers from being fired because they are too expensive or too old.
- Tenure allows teachers to stand up and question administrative decisions that are detrimental to student learning.
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.