Monday, January 30, 2017
Teacher Tenure Is Simply Due Process Rights.
In the Daily News the other day, there was an opinion piece by the politically conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute which claimed that firing teachers is an endless odyssey and demands that the rules need to change by either eliminating tenure, or removing tenure after getting an "ineffective" rating.
The truth is that teacher tenure does not mean a lifetime job, it simply means that the teacher has the right to challenge his or her termination in a 3020-a hearing. This is known as educator "due process". Teacher "due process" simply means that the School District cannot arbitrarily terminate a teacher without "just cause" and must present relevant evidence to an independent State arbitrator.
For teachers in the NYC version of the teacher evaluation system two consecutive "ineffective" ratings can result in 3020-a termination charges and for 87% of the teachers, the burden of proof is on the teacher to show they are not incompetent. For the remaining 13%, ATRs, and for teachers subject to misconduct or a "developing" rating, the burden of proof shifts to the DOE
According to the opinion piece by the Fordham Institute the article claimed only 77 teachers had two consecutive "ineffectives" in the last two school years. However, according to the UFT approximately 1% of the 70,000 teachers (700 teachers) received an "ineffective" rating last school year. Assuming the numbers are true, of the 77 teachers with consecutive "ineffective" ratings, 57 were charged under section 3020-a and as of now only 9 were terminated. Of course, the reason for such low termination numbers is that most of the 77 teachers were told by their lawyers that since the burden of proof is on them that it would be highly likely that the arbitrator will agree to terminate the teacher. Therefore, the teacher would lose up to $54,000 of retro lump sum payments if they are terminated, they teacher than retires instead so as to get the retro payments.
Remember, it now takes four years to achieve tenure and once granted its only right that the teacher who gets an "ineffective" rating, be given a chance to correct their deficiencies before being subject to termination. Two years is no way close to lifetime tenure.
This is just another case where the statistics are manipulated and the article's premise that its difficult to fire a teacher is far from the truth.