Teacher tenure was introduced in the nineteenth century as a means of protecting teachers from being arbitrarily fired. But tenure is now largely a means for powerful unions to protect bad teachers and preserve the principle of seniority over performance. New York should fight to roll back tenure provisions in teacher contracts in order to ensure that the best teachers are promoted and the worst ones are removed from classrooms.
The Facts You Need to Know
Short Time: Laying off teachers based on on the basis of seniority rather than effectiveness costs students the equivalent of ten to 14 weeks of learning. Read more.
Back in Class: Over the ten years ending in 2007, only six teachers out of 78,000 were dismissed for poor performance annually. Read more.
Low Bar: Despite efforts to toughen standards, only 3 percent of new NYC teachers are denied tenure outright annually. Read more.
"The idea of basing district-wide layoffs solely on seniority in this day and age doesn't make sense to most people. It just doesn't. It's why an ineffective teacher can keep his or her job in a layoff situation when a less-senior teacher with a highly effective rating is laid off."
The Past is Present
“[Tracey] Bailey, a high school science teacher from Florida, is an AFT member no more. Today he believes that the big teachers’ unions are a key reason for the failure of American public education, part of the problem rather than the solution. The unions, he thinks, are just “special interests protecting the status quo,” pillars of “a system that too often rewards mediocrity and incompetence.” Such a system, he says, “can’t succeed.””
On The Calendar
High-profile cases have recently put campus sexual assault in the spotlight. One question that has repeatedly come up: why are these cases being handled by campuses at all? Can schools provide due process for defendants and adequate justice for victims, or do these cases belong in the courts? Intelligence Squared will host a panel discussion on the topic with Professors Jed Rubenfeld (Yale Law School), Jeannie Suk (Harvard Law School), Stephen Schullhofer (NYU School of Law), and Dean Michelle Anderson (CUNY School of Law).
And in related news...
“[R]ecent statistics […] suggest that in districts across the country, it is rare for a tenured teacher to be formally dismissed due to poor performance. In fact, the two data sets find wildly divergent numbers of tenured teachers fired for cause.”