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  • Teacher Tenure Reform Catching On Across States

    Education reform is taking shape across the nation, and for many states, the next wave of change is coming as state leaders push for teacher tenure reform. Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, and New Jersey have proposed to eliminate or dramatically restructure the current form of teacher tenure.

    Additionally, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg “has campaigned aggressively for the state to end ‘last in, first out’ protections for teachers.”

    At present, public school teachers receive tenure after a few years of teaching, at which point they can be fired only for misconduct, requiring a hearing for dismissal. As a result, many incompetent teachers are left in the classroom, and schools are sometimes forced to dismiss good teachers. Said Governor Chris Christie (R–NJ):

    Tenure has become a job guarantee regardless of performance or success. … Tenure has become the sclerosis that coats the veins of our school system.

    Governor Sandoval (R–NV) expressed similar concern, stating, “It’s practically impossible to remove an underperforming teacher under the system we have now.”

    The specifics of tenure reform vary across states, but essentially all seek to increase teacher accountability.

    Governor Mitch Daniels (R–IN) has proposed that teachers “earn ‘professional’ status based on evaluations tied to student learning.”

    In New Jersey, Governor Christie says he will give “every child the right to an ‘effective teacher’” by making tenure “granted and taken away based on teachers’ effectiveness evaluations.”

    Similarly, Illinois’s proposed legislation would “link teacher tenure to student test scores” and require that tenure be “renewed every two years based on frequent, rigorous evaluations.”

    Governor Rick Scott (R–FL) proposes a variety of changes, including “a new teacher evaluation system … to ensure at least 50 percent of the evaluation is based on student progress,” eliminating tenure for newly hired teachers, and doing away with “last in, first out” policies.

    According to The New York Times, Idaho’s law would phase out tenure completely.

    Naturally, the teachers unions are vehemently opposed, but as Governor Scott puts it, “Good teachers know they don’t need tenure. There is no reason to have it except to protect those that don’t perform as they should.”

    Increasing the likelihood that a child has a quality teacher while protecting and supporting good teachers is a step in the right direction for every state.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Teacher Tenure Reform Catching On Across States

    1. LibertyAtStake, Alex says:

      Tenure is the last refuge of the incompetent and corrupt.

      "Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive"

    2. Wildcat from Dallast says:

      I am one of those individuals who studied education, graduated with a degree in education commensurate with a teaching license that, after having taught in the military system with previous substitute teaching experience before and after my military career, will never seek or accept a public school teaching position.

      While Pennsylvania has follow on required graduate education credit attainment attached to receiving a permanent license, it does not require those graduate credits to be in the field of education. I suspect the designers of this system thought a more educated teacher would produce a better teacher. However, one must evaluate what the motivations and experiences of a beginning teacher are in order to determine what, if any trend may appear. My personal thinking is that I was ill-prepared to manage what was required to be managed (controlled) while being able to constantly improve my teaching skills.

      What I experienced before entering active duty varied by the two local school districts I taught in, by what I was detailed to teach and whether or not the permanent teacher actually prepared a lesson plan. I had some positive experiences teaching a wide range of subjects due to the existence of a lesson plan and my level of understanding of the subject. Unfortunately I also had a few cases when I had the knowledge base to draw from but the lesson plan consisted of two words, “discuss fishing” where I was less than thrilled since I was called upon to teach “world cultures”.

      After returning from active duty and doing some substitute teaching in several districts in another state I again had different albeit a wider range of experiences. Two of the four school districts were similar to what I grew up with in Pennsylvania in layout and methodology while the other two were aggravatingly different relative to allowable student behavior and less than skilled people serving in administration positions. The teachers’ abilities varied with experience more than which college they graduated from except for a few of the athletic team coaches who seemed to focus on the additional duty rather than their primary one. However, many of the skilled teachers who applied their analytical skills realized if they wanted the ability to earn more money now and have a more rewarding retirement fund they had to and did make the transition to school administration or school leadership graduate degrees and associated licensing. All of them that made this decision that I knew had tenure before making executing their plan.

      The pay difference was two to five times as much as what they could earn per year as a teacher! A sidebar note here is appropriate. Many states have raided the public employees’ pension funds which were underfunded to begin with have put those people and their state in jeopardy.

      In conclusion I would like to offer one way, or perhaps one tool to enhance the ability of the decision makers decide whether to place a teacher on probation, suspend pending the outcome of an investigation, keep, or simply terminate their employment contract. Have an HR consulting group develop and implement a 360 degree performance evaluation system that includes performance appraisals from a varying group of peers, a specific number of students per class (not having students in the K thru 4 participate) evaluate their teacher as well as administrators and parents of students not already rating that teacher. Provide each group of individuals with a form having structured questions for them to address numerically and several places for them to write a narrative in which they articulate positive, negative and needs improvement relative to professional skills, ethics and conduct as well as their recommendations for future training opportunities, positions of greater responsibility and authority as well as simply continued employment in their current position or something less.

      Using an incredibly small set of standard raters with a completely changing set of random evaluators should potentially render a more usable evaluation capable of guiding district superintendents that have to make those ultimate decisions. This should also take out the possibility of favoritism, nepotism and arbitrarily made career or employment decisions from the hands of administrators.

      The other aspect would be an even bolder move: outlaw public employee unions! Actually we as a nation are past taking care of the safety and employment screening areas required by the federal government for employers and have already established federal agencies to protect the worker so abolishing unions overall would be part of a large cost saving measure for all of us.

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    4. Bobbie says:

      Great comments!

      Chris Christie!!!!!!!!!! Never backs down in doing what's right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All states should have the same!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    8. Joe, Unionville Chad says:

      I am an unemployed PhD in astrophysics (laid off from Defense Aerospace firm in 2010) and am funding teachers in Chester County who don't put in a full weeks work (36 hours 50 minutes including 2 hours 30 minutes of mandatory lunch) nor a full years work (there is no school for at least 8 weeks per year) plus 19 paid holidays and want guaranteed raises based on time in grade, NOT performance and have a health plan that is far better than any I have had – probably only Congress has a better plan!

      In the current bargaining agreement with the School District there is no mention of performance based employment not that I would expect that to be in any contract since the Administrators are operating under the same tenure provisions!

      I had college professors who shouldn't have had tenure – the concept of anyone having tenure is ridiculous and it should be abolished as quickly as possible across the USA.

      Parents have absolutely no say in the assessment of teachers – my taxes pay their salary. As bad as politicians are at least I can vote against them but with teachers nothing.

      I had exemplary performance assessments but lost my job due to changes in funding by customers – a pretty dramatic pay decrease.

    9. Patrick, Arizona says:

      After getting the teacher tenure straihtened out, the next step should be university professors. But that will have to start with university administration who as a group are overpaid left wing ideologues and will not cooperate. They will have to be replace first.

    10. CD, Virginia says:

      Wildcat, the alternative evaluation system you propose in your conclusion would replace favoritism and nepotism practiced by administrators with favoritism and nepotism practiced by KIDS and their parents. I am an effective teacher who consistently gets results, but I know if I asked KIDS and their parents to rate me, I would be scorched. Why? Because I hold them accountable. Because I challenge them to think. Because I don't suffer fools lightly. And I don't bend when mommy and daddy call to complain about their kids' grades or the way I've handled a discipline situation. I'm strict, my class is hard, and I place unrelenting standards of excellence on everyone equally. For that, I know I would be fired in a skinny minute if I allowed KIDS and their parents to rate me.

      The teacher evaluation system currently in place is not the problem — the problem is that administrators simply don't do their jobs. If they would actually observe and document ineffective practice as they are legally required to do, they wouldn't grant tenure in the first place to people who should never have received it. In my 18 years of teaching, I have seen far too many teachers (just about all) being asked to sign mid- and end-of-year evaluations based on . . . nothing??? Principals stay holed up in their offices or in meetings with layers and layers of central office superintendents, dreaming up their next big "initiative" that's going to "save our schools." Most _never_ even walk the halls of their buildings, never mind spend time in classrooms, to monitor the people they are responsible for supervising, mentoring, and evaluating. Great schools and great teachers are led by great administrators — fix them, and we wouldn't need to worry about who has tenure and who doesn't.

      • scovellj says:

        I doubt "most" principles never walk the halls of their school or watch teachers conduct their classes. I have never been in a school where principles just sit in their offices ignoring the day-to-day of the teacher. In fact it is state policy that these principles or VP's observe teachers each regularly.

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