Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Let's be clear on tenure.

A friend of mine is a principal at an urban high school. I was talking with a parent at the school once and she said, sort of amazed, “He fires people!”

Yes, it is rare for principals to fire teachers. No, it is not impossible. The process to remove an incompetent school employee may be complicated, but tenure does not mean the same thing in K-12 than it does in universities, and it certainly does not guarantee a job for life. It generally lays out strictures for the dismissal process, which varies by jurisdiction.

As the conversation over teacher tenure heats up, it is important for journalists to provide clarity on the issue: what tenure means, what dismissal requires, why administrators do or, more often, do not follow through on the procedure, and so on. Also, could the tenure rules be modified rather than tenure thrown out altogether? J.K. Wall of the Indianapolis Business Journal did a good job explaining the issue in Indiana;  I would love to see more.


  1. Has anyone noticed that Michelle Rhee and ALL other "reformers" do not want to be classroom teachers? Well, that's the problem we have in education. That's why over 90% of teachers get "excellent" evaluations. Not too many college educated people are eager to teach seventh grade in the "inner-city." If we take due process away from teachers, the situation will surely become much worse.

    Our neighbor to the north offers a solution for us. They have very strong unions for teachers, strict job protection and higher salaries. And their students achieve at higher rates than ours. Now why don't we try that?