Is the security of an
educator’s job worth the risk of poor education to students? Teacher tenure began back in the year 1886 in Massachusetts
and then slowly began to be adopted by other schools throughout the United States.
Tenure is defined as the status granted to an employee, usually after a
probationary period, indicating that the position or employment is permanent. The
idea of tenure really began to become popular and be adopted by other states in
the early 1900’s when many female teachers were advocating on the behalf of
woman’s rights. Since women were dominant in the career field of education,
there needed to be some sort of protection for their jobs in the education
systems throughout the nation.
History shows that when a new principal was hired, they
were given the ability to fire whomever they wanted and then hire anyone they
chose. If a new principal wanted his friends on staff he could do so, despite
the fact that the teachers already working at the school were successfully
doing their jobs. Other examples of this
unfair use of power would come with the swing in politics after an election, or
could be based on gender or even race. It was clear that there needed to be
something put in place quickly to protect all teachers from unfair advantages
that the school authorities had.
Tenure was implemented at a time when it was needed, but
today tenure has more negatives outcomes than positive ones. Teacher tenure can
create laziness and complacency because teachers know that once they are
granted tenure the likelihood of them being fired is slim to none. Second,
tenure makes it very challenging and expensive to fire bad teachers that have
negative impacts on students and schools. Lastly, there is no need for tenure
like there used to be in years past. The job field for educators is competitive
and does not need extra incentives for working. Some might argue that tenure is
still protecting teachers and prohibits less experienced teachers to take the
jobs of more experienced teachers, but these reasons do not come close to
making tenure acceptable.
During a probation period of up to five years, principals
around the country closely watch teachers to evaluate whether or not they will
receive tenure. Once teachers receive tenure it cannot easily be revoked,
knowing this can cause a teacher to become lazy in their job position and not
be up to date with the latest technology or data. Instead of teachers working
to incorporate innovative techniques into their classroom, they just do the
bare minimum tasks. For the good of the education of the American population,
tenure should be removed so that teachers are motivated to better themselves as
If a teacher becomes stagnate in his or her educational
position and are not presenting good educational results, the school
authorities are left with little to no options. Firing a tenured teacher is
very expensive and time consuming. The process is multi-layered and
complicated. According to an article titled, “Fat-Check: Just How Many Tenured
Teachers Are Fired Each Year Anyway?”, people
used to estimate that one in forty tenured teachers were fired for poor
performance but now, “…data suggests that it’s more like one in
500 tenured teachers.” The court systems
must get involved as well as the administration from the school. If the teacher
is suspended while his/her case is looked over, he/she still receives pay while
the courts and administration look over reasons for firing. This in turn incurs
costs like wages for a substitute. “It costs an average of
$250,000 to fire a teacher in New York City” (ProCon.org par 6). The cost required to fire a teacher could pay
another teacher for roughly six years.
Some people say that tenure is needed to ensure that
teachers will be able to teach freely and that they will not be fired for non-justifiable
reasons. In today’s world, our court
system is capable of making sure this does not happen. Instead of having
proactive measures taken, which are resulting in many bad side effects, we
should let the courts handle any unfair situations like they already do. Some
also say that tenure protects less experienced teachers from taking the place
of experienced teachers, but this is the very thing that makes teachers better.
A good competitive environment for teachers would result in teachers making
sure that they were being effective educators. A long term contract may be an
alternative to the tenured status.
“As per Tiemey (1998), the strength of long-term
contracts ‘is that it enhances institutional
flexibility, provides the opportunity to downsize academic areas that may no longer be of academic
interest, and ensures that academics maintain a degree of scholarly vitality if they want to be renewed for
an additional term’ (p. 48)” (McGrath).
This type of long term
contract would give educators the opportunity to work hard and to continue to
prove that they have the necessary skills to keep their job. In addition to
this, new teachers bring lots of innovative teaching strategies in to schools, as
they have just graduated college.
It is very important that teachers stay competitive and not
get complacent in their jobs. Teachers are the very people that have the
responsibility of educating our nation. Teachers have a big responsibility placed
on their shoulders and they must be held accountable to take their job
Tenure in its simplest form guarantees that teachers receive
due process but, teachers like every other American citizen, are already given
this right. This then begs the question: what is tenure really giving teachers?
Furthermore, the opposing side would say that tenue is earned and not just
freely given out to teachers. But then does that mean that due process is only
a right given to teachers who are able to impress the principal who is giving
We as a nation should not settle on this issue and put
the education of students in jeopardy. It is not mindful of the taxpayers, who
do not necessarily have job security in their own jobs, to pay thousands of
dollars to the education system, for this to continue on. Tenure is ultimately
depriving students. It is removing motivation for good teachers to be better
and more importantly protecting bad teachers from being fired.
Instead of offering tenure to teachers, we should provide
incentives for teachers to work hard and be successful. These incentives could
include: pay raises for time committed to a certain school, bonuses for high
test scores, or extra time for paid leave as a result of high ratings from
students and parents. Pay raises, for example could work like this: every two
years that a teachers stays with a school and preforms his or her necessary
duties, he or she makes five thousand dollars more. Other professions have to
use similar incentives to keep encouraging their employees to stay with their
company, so it should be no different in this case.
As the educational system remains complicated and has
over the years been declining in its success, we, as consumers of the
educational system, need to take a firm stand to repeal outdated policies.
Tenure is one example of this type of “outdated” policy. The policy was enacted
to protect vulnerable educators in the 1900’s, but is now protecting
potentially harmful and ineffective educators. Changing this firmly rooted educational policy
will take educating Americans and building a broad base of support. Along with
increasing awareness and support from a large population, taking this issue to
the judicial system is necessary. It will take the higher court of law to
modify or amend the tenure policy of educators.
In conclusion, tenure to educators once served as a
necessary protection to a wrongful termination. The educational system is now
inhibited from its optimal performance partly due to the tenured educators it
employs. The permanent status of educators with tenured status, can potentially
decrease the productivity of the educator and complacency may settle in easier.
Although some may say that tenure is still necessary to protect educators and
give them due process, our judicial system is advanced enough and set up to
handle matters such as this. It will take educating the general public and
creating a solid base of support in order to approach the modification of the
tenure process in the higher courts in each individual state. Is the tenured
educator effective or non-effective in today’s educational system? As we
evaluate the health of the educational system in America, we must approach each
delicate issue with the next generation in mind.
“Teacher Tenure –
ProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines,
HE PERCEPTIONS OF TENURE AND ALTERNATIVES TO TENURE AMONG FACULTY AT A MID-SIZED REGIONAL
UNIVERSITY IN A LARGE NORTHEASTERN STATE.
How Many Tenured Teachers Are Fired Each Year Anyway? (Hint: Not Many).” The 74 FactCheck Just How Many Tenured Teachers Are Fired Each Year Anyway Hint Not Many
Comments, www.the74million.org/article/fact- check-just-how-many-tenured-teachers-are-fired-each-year-anyway-hint-not- many/.