This has been the most important piece of data missing from the entire debate. I tried to explain to Derrell Bradford - a member of Christie's task force on teacher effectiveness - that many people who should not be in the field leave teaching in their first few years. He contended that those people were actually good teachers who weren't getting support. Yeah, sure - lots of people leave jobs they are good at right away...
You'd think the task force would have made this analysis themselves before setting the policy, but we all know the policy was already cooked up long before they met. Besides, no one in the task force is qualified to make this kind of analysis anyway.
The APP continues:
Then it's not tenure. A teacher's fate rests entirely on one administrator's review - regardless of test scores, but those can be manipulated - and there's no appeal. The only way to stay safe is if you're in with the right political crew...
Yes, young Boris, Joe DiVencenzo helped me get my job teaching social studies!
Dawn Hiltner, an NJEA spokesperson, continues in the APP:
You know, you'd think that maybe the blowhards who go on and on about "jobs for life" would have looked into this by now. But Hiltner nails it: everyone's been to school, so everyone thinks they know how it works. I find that amazing: I've flown quite a bit, but I wouldn't pretend to know how to pilot a plane. This attitude is yet another by-product of business and political leaders holding teachers in such low regard, instead of treating us like professionals.
If a contract isn't renewed, and there isn't an appeal process to an outside source, than it's not tenure. And it will be subject to the same political meddling and cronyism as in other government jobs with no civil service protections.
The answer to all of this is so obvious: streamline the process. Cap the time for appeals: 90 days would probably do it. Put the cases before administrative judges or arbitrators. Standardize procedures. Require reviews from multiple administrators.
But that wouldn't destroy the union, which is the ultimate goal.
That's wrong: what's most important is to have a corps of effective teachers. If you remove tenure protections, you are trading the possibility of retaining a bad teacher for the near-certainty of firing a good ones who don't play along with political machines. Tenure doesn't just protect teachers; it protects children and taxpayers.
The tenure system needs tweaking, but it is not the primary problem with our education system. The largest problem with our schools is the politicians who don't treat teachers like professionals.
BTW, big props to the APP for reporting on this.