The Los Angeles Superior Court has struck down teacher tenure and protections in Vergara v. California. This, by the looks of venomous comments in newspapers, seems to delight some people.
Arne Duncan, who represents the Obama administration’s viewpoint, apparently loves it too. See here.
Great isn’t it? That the President of the U.S. thinks so highly of his teachers? And that the citizens of America find delight in looking for everything teachers do wrong, rather than bolstering them as professionals?
Just remember this. Thirty years ago teacher tenure served America well. Our students were never failing like America was led to believe, and teachers, while always in need of improvement, did a fine job of educating America’s workforce.
There were many problems, albeit which included teacher performance in poor schools, but the solutions were not to de-professionalize teachers, which is what the removal of tenure does, but to instead increase professionalism.
It is interesting to me how tenure has become equated with poor teaching, when tenure, in reality, is all about teacher strength. And teacher strength means giving teachers more rights and power to make them valued.
Instead, many American’s decided to disempower teachers. How has that turned out since the the business community has worked to convert schools to private entities? Are students doing better? No. Not really.
Tell me how strong are teachers’ voices now?
Without tenure, teachers are told what to do and how to do it by those who may not even be qualified to enter a classroom.
Consider the many ed. leaders now in various states, and even America’s own Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who have little, if any, understanding of how children learn.
Credentials now don’t matter. Almost anyone can teach or lead in education as long as they know the right people.
Why tenure? Tenure provides a certain amount of attractiveness to a job that doesn’t pay as much compared to many other jobs with the same amount of professional preparation.
The argument usually goes that tenure should be eliminated and teachers should be compensated better and also get more benefits. But that will most likely never happen. If anything, without tenure, a teacher will get paid less with fewer benefits.
Look at how charter school teachers are treated if you don’t believe me.
Without tenure, teachers can be fired on a whim if they decide a particular curriculum is wrong for students and teachers will never gain the necessary experience only time provides to be truly remarkable senior teachers.
For those who hate Common Core State Standards, but also deplore teacher tenure, sorry. You can’t have it both ways. If you want teachers to speak out against standards you dislike, you need to support their professional judgement by providing them the freedom to speak out without it costing their jobs.
It is also not true that workers in other jobs don’t move up the ladder like teachers do with tenure, which is often an excuse against tenure. Many professionals follow certain protocol to move up the managerial ladder to promotion which is very much like tenure.
Teachers do not automatically get tenure either. They must earn it.
After several years of teaching, teachers go through an evaluation process by school administrators to determine how well they are performing as teachers. Usually this includes observations, good lesson plans, and decent student outcomes.
Should it take longer than two years to tenure teachers? There is a debate perhaps to be had there. But this case isn’t about extending the time to get tenure, it is more about getting rid of tenure.
Tenure does provide teachers increasingly higher salaries, not grand, but somewhat higher each year.
Teacher tenure does not provide teachers with a job for life. Teacher tenure provides teachers with due process. They can fight to keep their jobs, especially if they are fired unjustly by principals.
The mismanagement of the so-called rubber rooms in New York and the hold-up of consideration of teacher cases has always been the fault of school administrations and the union that can’t (or won’t) get their acts together.
These set-ups have also been used to generate animosity towards teachers.
It is difficult to read about the pervasive loss of tenure for teachers in California and around the country. And it is painful to watch those with billions of dollars bankroll an education agenda, not in the best interest of students.
A group called Students Matter spawned by Michelle Rhee’s Students First Foundation was behind Vergaras. Rhee has been after teacher tenure since she flew into the education scene years ago.
Some headlines say students win with this case, but how can students win when their teachers lose?
You tell me, how can creating a weak, cheap teaching workforce of those with little classroom power, ever be the voice for good instruction?
Vergara is not just a loss for students and schools, it is a loss for America.