The central issue in the upcoming education "reform" debate will certainly be tenure.
Under the Christie proposal, if a teacher gets one "ineffective" rating, she loses her tenure rights, and can't appeal the loss to anyone outside of her district. She can then be terminated immediately without cause.
50% of that "ineffective" rating is based solely on the teacher's evaluation by the principal or other supervisor - more than enough to cause even a stellar teacher to earn a poor rating if she rubs her supervisor the wrong way. In effect, administrators would have new, unprecedented abilities to remove a teacher at will.
This is a recipe for disaster.
Even more than teacher protection, tenure is taxpayer protection. It creates a firewall that helps to contain cronyism. The reports from the Star-Ledger about the rampant corruption and nepotism alleged in the Elizabeth school district should be more than enough proof for anyone that this firewall is essential, especially in a state with a reputation for political shenanigans like New Jersey.
Removing a teacher's right to appeal to an authority outside of his district will inevitably cause some districts to head the way of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission. Schools will become patronage mills, ripe for abuse. Considering that research shows granting tenure has no effect on student achievement, why would we take this risk?
Yes, there is a very good case to be made that it is too difficult, costly, and time-consuming to bring a tenure case against an ineffective teacher. But the answer is simple: cap the process. Limit it to 90 days, including appeals. Assign dedicated adjudicators to hear the cases, and prosecute them quickly and fairly.
But any attempt to remove a tenured teacher's right to an impartial hearing before dismissal will turn New Jersey's school districts into 603 separate Tammany Halls.
Our students deserve better than that.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The Failure of "Reform": Tenure
Tom Moran at the Star-Ledger wants to have a "friendly conversation" about ed reform. So I'm posting some short pieces about the topic there, and I'm waiting for him to respond. Here's a repost of the first one:
Posted by Duke at 1:07 PM