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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Yet Another Reason Why We Need Tenure

Dear lord, what a mess:

I have no idea what happened. Maybe the teacher is completely in the wrong, but it's totally inappropriate for the president of a school board to confront a teacher in front of students.

Is there any doubt this teacher would become a target of this school board president if she did not have tenure? Again, maybe she should be removed from her job, but under no circumstances should that decision be made by the board.

I know many of you who do not work in schools think this stuff is rare. But the only thing unusual about this case is the intensity. Remember: teachers lead their local bargaining units, and negotiations can get nasty and personal. Maybe board members run for office because they have children in the schools; you can imagine what happens sometimes when a bad report card is sent home.

There has to be a firewall between school boards and educators - not just for the teachers' sakes, but for the students'. Tenure is simply a way to bring a third party into disputes so everyone can trust the integrity of the outcome.

Cap the costs, cap the time, streamline the procedures. As I've said before, I am calling for more tenure cases, not fewer. And, yes, let's add another year so tenure is more difficult to earn (of course, if you paid teachers more, you'd have a larger pool of qualified candidates, wouldn't you?).

But tenure has to be there. And if an administrator can take it away without a hearing, that's exactly the same as not having tenure at all.

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