I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, May 20, 2011

How Not To Treat Professionals

Los Angeles shows us how:
Tying ratings of teachers to student achievement took a new twist on May 10 when the Board of Education of the Los Angeles Unified School District decided that all members of Huntington Park High School must reinterview for their jobs even though the school met improvement goals on standardized tests. The plan is expected to result in the replacement of at least half the faculty by July when the start of school for the year-round campus begins ("L.A. district plans shakeup at Huntington Park High," Los Angeles Times, May 10).
What makes the decision so controversial is that the school demonstrated progress last fall on the closely watched standardized tests. But board member Yolie Flores, who is an alumna of Huntington Park High School and who represents the area in which the school is located, expressed frustration over the pace of improvement. "This school has been waiting for decades, and people say wait a little longer. To me, it's a stall tactic. I'm tired of waiting," she said.
I guess professionals serve at the pleasure of a petulant school board member...
The LAUSD's decision further confirms the need for tenure. If it is eliminated, which reformers demand, then what is to prevent the same kind of arbitrary move to single out individual teachers who for one reason or another have rubbed the board of education the wrong way? I'm referring to teachers who speak out about controversial issues. Without tenure, they will be effectively muzzled, much to the detriment of students.
Eliminating tenure is as much about consolidating political power as anything else. Take away a teacher's right to get involved in the political process, and you remove yet another challenge to the status quo. Board members know this; so do politicians.

Republicans have a predilection for cronyism, but Democrats are quite adept at the game as well. Removing tenure ensures a steady stream of jobs both parties can give to hacks. No one who cares about teacher quality should support do away with it.

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