Monday, November 10, 2014

Tenure Has Never Been More Needed

I always knew that teacher tenure and even administrator tenure were important, but just like anything else you never need to use, simply because it prevents bad things from happening, I never thought very much about tenure. But now that tenure has been removed from many teachers and from all administrators, it is really becoming abundantly clear how vital the due process protection provided by tenure really is.

We have been told by big business elites for years that teacher tenure is just an unnecessary impediment to school improvement. Often they have told us that Myth #1:"Good teachers don't need tenure." and also Myth #2:  "When tenure is removed, good teachers will be empowered to finally get rewarded according to their value to the children they serve." The following post by Diane Ravitch highlights for us how untrue these statements are and how cruel this new world of teaching without due process can be.

Diane Ravitch explains here how a wonderful kindergarten teacher was fired by one of our Louisiana charter schools, and was never even given an explanation.  This recent firing puts the lie to both myths about tenure. This particular teacher had been honored just recently as one of the most effective teachers in Louisiana as measured by the tremendous academic growth of her students. She had been awarded a large bonus, paid for with a federal grant aimed at promoting merit pay for great teachers. Contrary to Myth #2, this teacher was absolutely powerless to keep her big bonus and even her job. She was fired without warning of any kind and barely given time to clean out her desk.

Fortunately because of the increasing shortage of kindergarten teachers, she was able to find a good job almost immediately in a traditional public school. She now tells us that she has never been happier in her profession. So all ended well for her

The same thing happened to a charter school principal I know who was fired mainly because she insisted that the discipline rules at her school be fairly enforced for all students.  Apparently she had failed to take into account that a student who was guilty of a serious discipline infraction had a parent who served on the board of the charter school. This principal was fired also without being given a reason of any kind. Her contract did not protect her. This principal is now teaching in a private school where she never has to worry about the almighty LEAP tests and there is no COMPASS or VAM. She told me that she had never wanted anything but to be allowed to do the job she loves to do. She tells me that her work has become rewarding again, even at a lower salary.

The welfare of the children was never a factor in the dismissal of the two individuals described above.


Anonymous said...

Even if tenure is returned to Louisiana teachers, I don't think charter school teachers will have it. They are employees of private corporations, not the state. As such, aren't they employed solely at the whim of the education "company"?

Michael Deshotels said...

The legislature could require that the teachers in charters be covered by the same due process as teachers hired by school boards. Up until now the legislatue has chosen to exempt charter schools from these requirements as well as exemption from participating in the teacher retirement system. This has allowed charter schools to collect the same MFP without paying the high unfunded liability costs assessed to local school boards. Amazing!