Tenure Toss Up
Some would argue that education is one of the most important things in an individual’s life. School is where people learn many things, and more than just out of books things like; friendship, sharing, right vs. wrong, and discipline. Most people have been there, the alarm clock going off at 6:30 a.m, its still dark outside, and frost has built up on the window. The last thing you want to do is unravel out of your blanket cocoon. It takes more than your mom telling you to get up, to get you to roll out of bed, and go to school. It takes interest in a subject, and the will to be successful. Nobody will be interested enough in going to school, if they have teachers that are not interested, or qualified to teach them. This has become the problem with the American education system today, when educators are protected by tenure laws, and continue to poorly educate America’s youth. Everyone will end up paying the difference. As long as there is no standard criterion to rate our teachers by, America’s education status will continue to fall. This paper will inform you on what teacher tenure is, how it started, and how it is currently used. How tenure is starting to be a burden on more than just the children in the school system today. Those taxpayers that are being affected, even after a teacher is fired, or retires. The steps are taken towards firing an “unqualified teacher”, and how the process plays out. Tenures future, and how some school districts have addressed the issue. Tenure is a problem that is long over due for change. Tenure has “been called the holy grail of the teaching profession-academic freedom plus job security all rolled nicely into a union contract”(Stephey 1). Tenure evolved from the very “labor struggles during the late 19th century. Just as steel and auto workers fought against unsafe working conditions and unlivable wages, teachers too demanded protection from parents and administrators who would try to dictate lesson plans or exclude controversial materials like Huck Finn”(1). New jersey was the first move towards tenure, “in 1910, it granted fair-dismissal rights to college professors”(1). It wasn’t until the suffrage movement of the “1920’s-when female teachers could be fired for getting married or getting pregnant or […] wearing pants”(2). That tenure would be “extended to elementary and high school teachers as well”(2). Which is now becoming a problem in America today, and as the Chancellor of the Washing D.C school district Michelle Rhee stated, “that it inadvertently protects incompetent teachers from being fired”(1). Requirements to be a tenured teacher according to Mathew Drugg a former special education teacher at Northfield High school, “Really there isn't anything you need to do to get tenured. You get observed about three times a year which should be more and should be done anyway and if you are lucky enough to not get cut due to budget or changes in services once you make it past the third year you are usually good to go.” This is defined as a “Probationary status for three years before they are tendered a contract that grants them tenure or an expectation of continuing employment”(Nixon, Andy, Packard, Abbot, Douvanis, and Bus 2) after completing the probationary period, and have managed to stick around the district. Then it is up to the superintend recommending a teacher to the school board for a vote. In recent cases the school board had acknowledged the superintends intention of the teacher being tenured, by voting in his favor (Hill 1). This being the process for many years, except “On Jan. 9, 1995, the board of education of the Patchogue-Medford Union Free school district […] Superintendent Raymond Fell had recommended that two elementary school special-education teachers […] be granted tenure”(Hill 1). In this particular situation, when the superintendent passed on a tenure request for two teachers. He had...
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