Monday, June 16, 2014
Why Teacher Tenure Is Necessary.
The California court decision that struck down that State's teacher tenure law is already having the education reformer groups salivating in anticipation of similar lawsuits throughout the nation, including New York. According to the California judge, teacher tenure is a civil rights issues that causes school districts to dump poorly preforming teachers to instruct poor and minority students. While I find his reasoning faulty and without merit, it does open the door for similar attacks on teacher tenure elsewhere. It's no secret that nationwide, teacher morale is an an all time low and teacher disrespect, especially by the media, is on the rise.
Interestingly, the main issue for the judge was the extreme difficulty in terminating teachers for misconduct and incompetence and that teacher "due process rights" made it nearly impossible to fire teachers in California Furthermore, he mentioned how California's teachers received tenure in eighteen months and few principals rejected teacher tenure due to the short time limit and fears of high teacher turnover if they did which can destabilize a school.. While I believe that the judge's decision will be reversed on appeal, let's look at t5he New York City's tenure and termination process and how it's applied to City teachers.
First, tenure is given after three years of satisfactory service and in many cases tenure can be extended for another year or two before the teacher finally achieves tenure. The latest statistics show that only 53% of teachers who were eligible for tenure received tenure while 3% were discontinued. The rest had their tenure decision extended another year. In fact, in some cases principals wanted to give tenure only to be told by the Superintendent that the tenure request was rescinded! Unlike California,in New York City tenure decisions take longer and is more difficult to achieve.
Second in New York City, teachers brought up on 3020-a charges for incompetence or misconduct are much more likely to be terminated by independent arbitrators. The latest statistics show that in 2013, 38% of the teachers who went through their 3020-a hearings were terminated and only 4% were found innocent. The rest had fines or suspensions. In other words, of the 133 teachers who went through their 3020-a hearings 50 were terminated and only 6 were find innocent of all charges against them. In all cases the teacher had a relatively fair hearing and their "due process rights" were protected, even if the results may not always be to one's liking.
"untouchables" an opportunity for an interview when vacancies are available. Giving the school districts the ability to "hire and fire" at will, will destabilize schools and hurt the very children they claim to serve. Teacher tenure and "due process rights" are an integral part of a stable school environment and for the students to reach their academic potential.