Thursday, November 13, 2008

Teacher Tenure

I just read Amy's post on Michelle Rhee and was reminded of an article I read also in the New York Times on the chancellor of D.C public schools ("A School Chief Takes On Tenure, Stirring a Fight" in the New York Times). I haven't read Amy's article and don't know Rhee's position on test scores, but I'm in agreement with Rhee that teacher tenure isn't good for students. Having only worked in private schools, I have no direct experience with teacher tenure, but I can only predict that it disincentivizes teacher excellence and innovation. I can't think of any other job or sector where after three years one can garner job security (nearly) regardless of performance. I can appreciate that tenure can be a mechanism for preventing unfair treatment and dismissals of teachers. But surely, tenure is not the only mechanism for this. In a tenureless world, there would have to be regular and meaningful performance reviews with opportunities for professional growth and avenues for recourse when dismissal is unfair. But perhaps I'll feel differently about teacher tenure when I'm a public school teacher...

1 comment:

Lisa Sibbett said...

I am SO on the fence about this one. I was a little upset by the Rhee article: she speaks to so many people with so little respect that it's hard for me to believe her apparent respect for students isn't a little faked (and at the end of the article we find one student feels really betrayed by her).

On the other hand, I think I do believe in merit pay, and I think I'm against teacher tenure, at least as it exists now. I've known some TERRIBLE public school teachers who've been teaching at my own public high school for decades.

My positions on merit pay and tenure make me feel like I'm not being adequately progressive, because I strongly disagree with most teachers' unions on this issue.

But it's a good illustration of how so many important social and political issues can't be reduced to a "progressive" or "conservative" agenda.