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Teacher Tenure Essay

Today, there seems to be a push to change the policy of teacher tenure. “Roughly 2. 3 million public school teachers in the United States have tenure—a perk reserved for the noblest of professions (professors and judges also enjoy such rights). ” (Stephey) Tenure refers to a policy which gives teachers a permanent contract that effectively ensuring them a guarantee of employment for life.

Stephey continues to state, “Though tenure doesn’t guarantee lifetime employment, it does make firing teachers a difficult and costly process, one that involves the union, the school board, the principal, the judicial system and thousands of dollars in legal fees. ” (Stephey) In making this comment, Stephey urges us to think about tenure process and what is involved in removing a teacher. Tenure started in the early 20th century as a means of protecting teachers from being fired for wrong reasons.

Back then, racial or personal bias could get a perfectly good teacher fired. Female teachers even faced being fired for becoming pregnant or for wearing pants to work. Tenure also serves to protect professors whose research or teaching practices might ruffle feathers, and to ensure job security for out of the box academic pursuits. Typically, tenure is granted to university professors only after an intensive and protracted process of review. Professors usually do not come under review for tenure until they have spent at least five years working in their position.

Primary and secondary school teachers can earn tenure in as little as two years on the job. Should teacher tenure be abolished? Wisniewski 2 In 2000, 36 year old Leslie Jermyn went to teach her first course as a seasonal lecturer at the University of Toronto for $4,550, she taught 100 students a two month first year anthropology course. Though Jermyn would go on to teach courses every summer for the next 11 years, the job was never guaranteed, and every year she experienced “gut wrenching tension” waiting to find out whether she won the contract.

“Often I was hired within two weeks of the start time of the course. ” For years she had no benefits and worked out of a shared office, furnished with one desk and telephone. In 2007, after she had been teaching upwards of 800 students a year for three years straight, she argued to the dean that her department needed a regular teaching position. That didn’t work, and Jermyn says she knows why:”I’m cheaper without benefits. ” (Findlay) When university’s replace full time professors with a seasonal lecturer, it undermines the whole profession.

Today, tenure gives teachers protection from being able to take chances with material that may be deemed controversial or speaks out about the latest headlines or issues at hand. According to Nelson, “In truth, many Americans deserve better job security than they have. But people responsible for teaching your children have a special need to be protected from capricious dismissal. ” Nelson continues to say,” If your children are going to be taught to think rigorously and creatively—which is their best route–they need to be taught by teachers who can be rigorous and creative and courageous as well.

” (Nelson) In making these comments, Nelson argues that tenure is a necessity if our children are to succeed by exposing them to different teaching methods. The argument that tenure is just a matter of showing up to work and putting in your time is reflected in this article written by the: The New York State United Teachers, “Mythbusters: The Truth About Tenure”, Wisniewski 3 “Unions don’t grant tenure – administrators do. Too many school boards and superintendents attack tenure rather than hold their own managers accountable for hiring and supervising teachers and, if necessary, removing those who don’t make the grade.

” (Mythbusters) In most cases when a teacher earns tenure there are very few reviews and if the reviewer likes that person they will end up with positive remarks. There is no need for teachers to have tenure. The principle of academic freedom is so well established that no administration or board of trustees at any school district would dare violate it. When one is a teacher they know that they need to teach the material that is needed for students succeed and excel during testing. Teachers should have no fear in being dismissed if they are doing the job that they were hired for.

In the other hand, if one is not doing their job teaching then that is simply one owns fault when getting fired. There are many workers who work hard to get what they deserve such as high pay and benefits. Then why do are there laws which protects teacher’s jobs only? In school districts across America there are stories as found in an article from Meghan Mathis as she writes, “New York faced intense scrutiny and criticism in 2009 when it came to light it had been paying full salaries to nearly 700 tenured teachers who had been accused of poor performance or wrongdoing.

These teachers were paid not to teach, but rather to sit in a guarded room from start to finish of each day. ” How is the government benefitting our society by using tax payer’s dollars to pay for teachers to idly sit in a room when these dollars could be used to introduce new programs into the classroom or better yet a teacher willing to do the job? Why are tax payer’s dollars wasted by spending this money on terminating teachers? Writing in Time, Stephey states that “Some school districts have resorted to separation Wisniewski 4 agreements, buyouts that effectively pay a teacher to leave his or her job.

The practice has evolved as a way to avoid the extensive hearings and appeals required by union contracts and state-labor laws in firing a tenured teacher. (Costs can run as high as $100,000). ” (Stephey) When this happens again our children lose out due to the high costs to remove the teacher that if they had been reviewed properly they would not have the job in the first place. A growing trend is for at will employees in the educational field in Jack Stripling’s example: If a majority of presidents who were surveyed got their way, their campuses might work something like the Franklin W.

Olin College of Engineering or Lindenwood University, neither of which offers tenure. When Olin opened, in 2002, all of the inaugural faculties were placed on five-year contracts. The Massachusetts College’s founders said a nontenure system would give the institution more flexibility to phase programs in and out as the needs of the industry demanded, said Richard K. Miller, president of the college. “Nobody comes to Olin because they are looking for job security,” he said. “People come to Olin because they’re looking to make a difference.

” Some professors have decided on their own to leave Olin, but the college has yet to refuse any contract renewals. By offering contracts to the professors has not been a detriment to the colleges and has given both the college and teachers flexibility to change the programs offered and those who stayed were offered another contract. Wisniewski 5 The push today is to change tenure by offering contracts that may last 2-5 years. At the end of the contract they will be reviewed just like any other job.

If they have performed well they will be offered another contract or if they performed poorly this would lead to not renewing their contract. This will encourage teachers to work harder and makes sure they are interested in the children test scores and overall success. Tim Weldon is surely right about the one issue about which almost everyone agrees is, “The state of teacher pay and attrition is disturbing and potentially catastrophic to the teaching profession because recent studies have shown that nearly half of all teachers leave the profession within five years, with attrition rates highest in schools serving low-income students.

” (Weldon) This is disturbing that teachers are leaving at such an alarming rate but if we were to reward them better pay and incentives this would encourage them to stay. In a speech given to National Broad of Professional Teaching Standards, U. S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said “If teachers are to be treated and compensated as the true professionals as they are, the profession will need to shift away from industrial era blue collar model of compensation to rewarding effectiveness and performance,” he said.

“Teachers should have annual salaries starting at $60,000 and the opportunity to make up to $150,000 based on performance. ” (Weldon) By having better opportunities for teachers to make their salaries based on performance this will encourage them to become more involve with their students. This will also encourage the ones who want to be a teacher thrive and be rewarded for the hard work they put into the job. Wisniewski 6 Works Cited “Mythbusters: The Truth About Tenure”. NYSUT United 8 Feb. 2011: n. pg. Web.

accessed July 25,2012 Findlay, Stephanie. “Whatever Happened to Tenure? The Backbone of Today’s University is Ill-Paid, Overworked Lecturer. ” Maclean’s 124. 2 24 Jan. 2011: n. pg. General OneFile. Web. 24 July 2012 Mathis, Meghan. “Teacher Tenure Debate: Pros & Cons. ” The K-12 Teachers Alliance 4 May 2012: n. pg. Web. accessed July 25, 2012 Nelson, Cary. “Parents: Your Children Need Professors With Tenure. ” The Chronicle of Higher Education 57. 07 3 Oct. 2010: n. pg. Academic OneFile. Web. 25 July 2012 Stephey, M.

J. “Tenure. ” Time 17 Nov. 2008: n. pg. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 July 2012. Stripling, Jack. “Most Presidents Favor No Tenure for Majority of Faculty; Evan Many Leaders of Private and Public Colleges Want More Long Term Contracts for Professors. ” The Chornicle of Higher Education 57. 37 15 May 2011: n. pg. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 July 2012 Weldon, Tim. “Does Merit Pay for Teachers Have Merit? Pros and Cons of New Models for Teacher Compensation. ” Capital Research. Oct. 2011: 1-9. Web. 24 July 2012.


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