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May 18th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Should tenure for teachers be done away with?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Teacher tenure, the union-backed safety net that protects teachers from being fired after a certain number of years of service, is coming under fire in states from New York to Tennessee and Illinois.

Tenure provides experienced teachers job security in a tight labor market, at a time when cash-strapped states and municipalities are trying to make cuts everywhere they possibly can. Critics say the policy can harm students more than it protects teachers because new teachers with fresh ideas often lose their jobs while older teachers - some of whom are just going through the motions until their pensions kick in - can't be touched.

That's because when a district announces layoffs, the "last in, first out" union rule generally takes over. That often means the least-experienced teachers with fewer years of service must lose their jobs before older, more senior teachers do, no matter how well they do their job, or how well their students perform.

But change is coming. States such as Arizona, Georgia, Colorado and Utah have passed bills to end "last-in, first-out" layoff policies in the past year. Now a handful of other states are trying to make changes to tenure, too. But supporters are up in arms and say tenure is an important policy that attracts talent to a profession that offers relatively low starting pay.

Here’s my question to you: Should tenure for teachers be done away with?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

B.J. in Quincy, Illinois:
Yes it should. They should be like other unions - a seniority-based system that protects you some but not totally.

Bob in Melbourne, Florida:
Yes, Jack. Nowhere else can you be guaranteed employment regardless of your performance. We've increased spending on education every year for the past 40 years and our ratings in science and math keep falling. We've reduced class size and made everything so politically correct and our students just get dumber. Maybe we should fire all the teachers and start over.

Larry:
I'm a retired teacher and feel that doing away with tenure is not a good idea. It could be used to "get rid" of older more expensive teacher in favor of lower paid entering teachers to help balance the budget; experience means nothing. It leaves the door open for local "dirty politics." I have seen both of these instances in my 38 years of teaching.

Donald in New Mexico:
I don't think anyone should earn a permanent position based on their performance during a short period of time when they are working hard just to get to a point where they get tenure. Short term contracts of five or less years might work.

Lou:
The best and the worst teachers I've had were the ones who had been there forever. The best ones used their experience to reach even the dimmest kid, because they had seen it all and knew what worked. The worst ones used their experience to keep a job, despite giving up on the process a long time ago.

Rick:
With the entire country singling out teachers to be scapegoats for the problems in education, perhaps it is time for those in the profession to re-evaluate whether they should continue to teach. This is largely an issue of the inability of government to run anything efficiently and cost-effectively. Teachers being at the bottom of the food chain, get the grief, while the superintendents and principals, rake in the cash.

Ed in Maryland:
No, but they should give tenure to journalists, then you could say what you really want to say without losing your job.

Jane in Minnesota:
Jack I am for eliminating tenure only if the reasons for terminating a long-term teacher are performance related; not simply because the teacher can be replaced by a younger, lower cost teacher. This sounds like another one of those one-sided, uncompromising proposals that a Governor such as the ones in Florida, Wisconsin or Michigan would propose.


Filed under: Education
soundoff (392 Responses)
  1. Balboa from Huntsville Alabama

    I plan on marrying a teacher and if they do away with this I will be outraged beyond your comprehension and imagination.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  2. Jim

    Jack,

    Teachers can't be blamed for seeking the kind of job security that the tenure system provides. The system should be modified, however, to allow for dismissal of teachers that prove unfit to continue. That, of course, immediately raises the question of how should teacher quality be judged and what determines whether a teacher has become unfit. I've never heard the definitive answer to that one.

    Jim
    Reno, Nevada

    May 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  3. Tom in Desoto, Tx

    It's a double edged sword. In some cases it's an umbrella for incompetence people to keep their jobs. On the other hand, it's an umbrella so teacher can teach without the interference on what to teach and the emphasis or slate dictated by administrators. All things considered, I suggest having a longer time before becoming tenured.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  4. Pete in Georgia

    Yes !!
    ANYTHING demanded by demanding unions should be done away with. All they stand for is arrogance and entitlement.

    Enough.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  5. Russ in PA

    That's a start. Then lets end the public school system itself, and let the private market take care of education. Otherwise we'll continue paying out the nose for less and less. Expecting government to improve education – or health care – just goes to show how little many have learned of government-sponsored entities over the past decades.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  6. Matt Toohey

    Jack

    Yes. Performance should be the basis for continued employment as long as you base their salaries on their performance. Don't tell my wife, she is a teacher.

    Matt
    Rockford

    May 18, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  7. maggieb

    Yes , they need to be able to get rid of Bad teachers and keep good ones, and I believe teachers should be tested at least every two years ,

    Houston Texas

    May 18, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  8. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    Yes, I think they should get rid of tenure for teachers, We need to weed out teachers who are not doing their job. By doing away with tenure for teachers would be a good way to a weight to accomplish it.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  9. Tony from Torrington

    Our children have precious few chances of learning what they need to know to become successful in their short time in the education system. It shouldn't even be a consideration. Our children need the best teachers, not the ones who have been there the longest.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  10. John from Alabama

    Jack: No!! As long as elected candidates make decisions about school's and school personnel. In 1938, a county school superintendent was elected. This superintendent did not get the support of most of the teachers in this school system. By the end of the year over half the teachers were fired. No due process, no reasons for their dismissal, and no way to challenge the superintendent in court. The next year, the first tenure laws in Alabama were passed. The same county still has elections of superintendent and board members; therefore, without tenure it can happen again.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  11. B. J. , Quincy,Ill

    Ys it should, They should be like other union, a senoirity base, it protects you some but not totally.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  12. Paul, New Port Richey, Fl

    Tenure is an albatross. Just like union seniority doesn't mean you are accomplished; it only means you're still alive. These dinosaurs should be extinct.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  13. CRAIG R. MCNEES

    tampa, fl sure, and let's not pay them anything near what they are worth, take away their perks like health insurance and their retirement plans too. then give our politicians and their relatives a great big raise on top of their obscene salaries & perks for doing the job of cutting out all the unimportant stuff. might even have enough to give the illegal aliens more too, i hear they are worried about this e-verify thing.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  14. lou

    The best and the worst teachers I've had were the ones who had been there forever. The best ones used their experience to reach even the dimmest kid, because they had seen it all and knew what worked. The worst ones used their experience to keep a job, despite giving up on the process a long time ago.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  15. pat in michigan

    Jack .I have a daughter who is a teacher with very good credentials who had to fight for tenure because the woman she replaced was now head of the dept. .
    She was so jealous of my daughter she fought tooth and nail to deny her tenure because she used new ideas to teach the kids and got better results.
    I do believe however that a set of criteria should be established as a guide to granting or denying tenure without union interfearance

    May 18, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  16. Janne from NC

    Absolutley! However the unions will never let that happen, and if the unions don't want it you know Obama doesn't want it either.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  17. Chakara

    Teacher tenure should be done away with. Teacher tenure just gives the older teachers a reason to slack off, if we continue to give teaachers their tenure then the students are not going to learn as much because these certain teachers believe that they dont have to try as hard. I believe that teacher tenure is just an excuse for the older and more "experienced" teachers to teach less.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  18. Conor in Chicago

    Of course. Teachers always teach better when they know they can be fired at any moment, for any reason or infraction, or percieved infraction, knowing full well that if their students don't pass archaic standardized tests they will be fired at the end of the year regardless of anything other considerations. Yes, that's sarcasm.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  19. Sylvia from San Diego

    Yes, Yes and Yes. Our public schools need to be run like a business. You perform well, you get to keep you job and you are rewarded for your performance based on the performance of the company. You perform poorly, and you loose your job and the company goes out of business. And while I am at it, they should not be unionized since we (the tax payer) pay the bill and that is who they should be accountable to.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  20. Steve, Clifton, VA

    Tenure for teachers is not the demon in and of itself. Tenure becomes a demon if it is not accompanied by a performance standard criteria which requires a teacher to consistently demonstrate a pattern of excellence that is weighed exactly the same as tenure.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  21. BOB FROM PHOENIX

    NO! As a retired school administrator I saw an instant where a teacher was given a good recommendation from her principal, but the teacher was fired by the school board because she gave one of the board members daughter a “B” instead of an “A” that the board member thought she should get. This was a beginning teacher who did not have tenure.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  22. John .......... Marlton, NJ

    Yes, tenure should be eliminated. Why would any reasonable person give someone immunity in respect to anything for our children? Additionally, we should mandate school teachers have at least five years of "something other than teaching" experience before being hired. It seems its the only profession you get full responsibilty with no experience.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  23. Ed from California

    No!! Where are the "responsible" parents, Jack? All of you think that a teacher is your own personal nanny! Your very own babysitter, well that's wrong!! Its the Prison guards that are the professional babysitters. Neglectful parents are job security for Prison guards!!

    The Kochplicans would rather give tax breaks to the rich. Hand out corporate welfare. Fight two wars. Keep their benefits while at the same time cut ours. And not put one dime into education!! We are heading to be worse off than Mexico. We all need to wake up, before it's all gone to the rich in this country!!

    May 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  24. Bob

    Jack,
    Yes if all teachers are paid the same, no if there is a pay scale based on years of service. Tenure does not keep bad teachers, bad administrators keep bad teachers. All teachers are evaluated by administrators yearly, if teachers get bad evaluations then they should be replaced, not because they make more money.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  25. bob z fr ,pa.

    yes it only protects the poor teachers

    May 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  26. Phoebe

    Good teachers are invaluable, being a good teacher requires alot of experience. K-12 Teachers should not be limited in the numbers of years of service at a school District, they ought to be moved around within their school districts.
    The question here ought to be SHOULD STATE & US SENATE & HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HAVE TERM LIMITS? Poll this you will be surprised at the results.
    Ordinary Americans do not get to stay on one job for 20 – 40 years, why should these politicians. I hope that some day some brave soul would makes this into a campaign issue or better yet a ballot initiative.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  27. Kevin in CA

    Probably, give the new thinking. After all, tenure is a leftover from days gone by when teachers were considered professionals that we entrusted our children to. Today they only represent unwanted overhead.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  28. Brad, Portland, OR

    I don't think tenure should exist. Its purpose supposedly is to protect academic freedom, but in private industry you have to do what your employer tells you to do, and if you don't, they fire you.

    I also think that since very few people in private industry have pensions, they should do away with pensions for teachers and other government employees as well. They should have to make do with a 401(k) and Social Security like the rest of us, and not get a gold-plated deal that we don't get but have to pay for.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  29. Scott in Bellingham

    There should be no tenure for school teachers when "tenure" means "un-fireable". Paychecks need to match the budget and when revenue is down the School Board needs the lay-off tool. The School Board must not be stuck with unfunded teachers, tenured or otherwise, in bad times.

    There should be no tenure for school teachers when "tenure" means "low performance and high salary, a bad combination". The School Board needs the cull tool to keep older staff on their toes, and freedom to hire bright young minds for the best possible outcome for students.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  30. Bud Rupert

    If you believe in recruiting and retaining the best talent then yes. Of course, if you've been a teacher for a whiule and have built up that so called "tenure" you won't be so happy if it's done away with.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  31. mitch

    Jack,
    "Tenure" promotes an "Elitism" we can ill afford and should be removed in order to promote the novel concept of actually caring if students are truly educated and not worrying so much about being published and winning the " The Nobel Prize". Why dont we start the "Nobel Prize" of "getting us out of the mess we are in" and the "Tenure" of keeping it that way.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  32. Rich McKinney, Texas

    I think tenure plays a role only when budget cuts require letting teachers go. A teacher that has worked longer should be allowed to remain working and those with less tenure should be cut first. As far as performance evaluations i don't think tenure should be considered. A teacher can be the best teacher and still have students that score poorly simply because the students fail to study or absorb and retain what is taught. A teacher can only teach what the school allows them to and the students have to take what they are taught and preform. Some students have better study habits and score well others don't study and score poorly. It is not the teachers fault.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  33. Dr. Robb

    Jack, Jack, Oh Jack,
    They have already taken: our self respect, our pride, control of the classroom, our decision making process, our pay has been cut, etc., etc., etc., so now why would we be concerned about TENURE? But , we do have our memories when parents, community, school board, principal, and teachers worked together for the betterment of our children. Tenure, Tenure, Oh Tenure, so long Ole Guy.

    Them 1000; Teachers 0!

    Columbia, SC

    May 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  34. Alex in Bremerton, WA

    No, Jack! It would just be a way for school districts to save money on retirement programs by letting teachers go just before they retire. Tenure has its problems, but it prevents abuses like the one I mentioned.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  35. andyz Lynn, MA

    I really do not know how to quantify the effectiveness of a teacher. When a yardstick is established for a teacher's effectiveness then any teacher falling below would have two or three years to bring themselves up to over the line marking the lowest acceptable rating. For teachers wanting to moan that rating them is oh so unfair, remember almost everyone else in the workforce is rated and yes, substandard performers are released, even in government.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  36. jacquie Bell

    No!!!!!!! These people work hard to get a degree and to teach our kids, without support from the administration at the school and especially from the parents Jack I doubt very much if you have the patience to take the crap teachers have to put up with. Now they are being demonized by you and everyone who haven;t a clue what it takes to teach . J. Bell of Ohio

    May 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  37. Ed from MD

    No but they should give tenure to journalists, then you could say what you really want to say without losing your job.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  38. Jane (Minnesota)

    Jack I am for eliminating tenure ONLY if the reasons for terminating a long term teacher are performance related; not simply because the teacher can be replaced by a younger, lower cost teacher.

    This sounds like another one of those one-sided, uncompromising proposals that a Governor such as the ones in Florida, Wisconsin or Michigan would propose.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  39. Donald in New Mexico

    I don't think anyone should earn a permanent position based on their performance during a short period of time when they are working hard just to get to a point where they get tenure. Short term contracts of five or less years might work.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  40. ken, atlantic city, nj

    Yes, they should be fired at anytime for any reason like employees in the real world. It is time for the taxpayers to take back the schools from a bunch of arrogant overpaid under worked whiners. We have gotten nothing for all the billions we have spent on teachers and overpaid admininstrators. The u.s. is not even close to the top when compared to other countries. It is time to replace the multimillion dollar brick and mortor schools with at home online education.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  41. Ron

    Defnitly tenure should be done away with.All tenure does is protect teachers who are not doing the job.The old adage either cut bait or get of the gravey train.Why should people who can't do the job be allowed to keep their jobs. Ron in AR

    May 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  42. Bob Melbourne, Fl

    Yes Jack. No where else can you be guaranteed employment reguardless of your performance. We've increased spending on education every year for the past 40 years and our rating in science and math keep falling. We've reduced class size and made everything so politically correct and our students just get dumber. Maybe we should fire all the teacher and start over

    May 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  43. Bob D Iowa

    Yes but only if the teacher does not continue to update themselves with current classes and technology, I know how easy it is to become outdated in ability and thinking.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  44. Larry Feierstein-Denver

    Without a doubt. Teachers should be like any employee of any company. They should be reviewed yearly based on performance , meeting objectives and other criteria. Why would anyone keep an employee who underperforms, or fails to meet minimum requirements, or is late or unprepared.
    Why not hold teachers to the same standards as an employee of any company subject to the same standardized policies and procedures for continued employment. Many states are "right to work" meaning an employee can be terminated without cause. Why not teachers?

    May 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  45. David Gerstenfeld

    Yes & NO. The tenure system rewards both good & bad teachers & needs to be revised. There's enough blame to go around to explain why children aren't learning & tenured teachers after only 1 or 2 years teaching is part of the problem. Just look at where the U.S. stands globally in education & you know today's system is failing. Jack, I'm 72 and know that I've forgotten more then today's children learn & i'm still smarter then they are. I can even do long division without a calculator !
    David, Las Vegas

    May 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  46. DON IN WESTPORT, MASS.

    We should learn from Singapore. Thier students rate the highest in international standardized test in math and science while spending less per child on education than almost any other nation.
    The country invest heavily in teacher training programs and recruits top graduates to be teachers.
    Why can't we do the same. We let go teachers with the most experience because they make to much money.
    Ridiculos. We sure know how to shoot ourselves in the foot.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  47. Dana Clark- Livingston Mt.

    Yes. Tenure breeds complacency and makes it difficult to get rid of "bad" teachers no matter how many poor reviews they get. Other industries do not offer tenure or other types of guarantees of employment after a given amount of time...why should the Feds offer this to teachers?

    May 18, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  48. Tom Mytoocents Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    Jack
    Tenure should be offered to all Americans. On the job five years equals five years retirement buyout. Ten for ten and twenty years full retirement.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  49. Gary H. Boyd

    How can we do away with tenure? It would be like doing away with idealism. After all, teachers are idealists. Therefore, I say "no" to ending tenure and let the idealism live on.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    May 18, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  50. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    Yes. Why keep them around if they are not performing. They get stale and only go through the paces. Then they start making high cost demands. They feel entitled to totally paid insurance and expect some poor family with two parents working that can't even afford insurance for their own family to pay their freight. I've been in the classroom and believe me, it is NOT that stressful. Where I live some tenured teachers are making over $72,000 for 180 days work. Please...let's get REAL here.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  51. Annie, Atlanta

    How about we start investing serious money in education, giving teachers the tools with which to work their magic? Let Wall Street and the oil companies pay for it. Turn around is fair play, after all.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  52. Anthony J. Frascino from Swedesboro, NJ

    Tenure is a pursuit of most teachers to reach a plateau where they can no longer be vulnerable to poor performance. Some continue their stellar performance because they're dedicated. Others, however, see this as an opportunity to lay back and provide a meager lesson to pass a majority of their students based on the low standards of education today. Human nature tends to seek an easier road to provide the minimum tasks needed to survive. Tenure provides an invulnerable stature which doesn't necessarily equate to continued performance. It is the stuff of laxity and comfort. Tenure should be abolished and performance rewarded. Simple as that!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  53. Sean in Michigan

    I don't see anything wrong with last in, first out. When you dedicate yourself to a career and give years of good service, it's a tragedy to lose your job to someone new and unproven just because you are older and don't have "fresh" ideas. In this way tenure works.
    Tenure doesn't work when it allows ineffective teachers to keep teaching. There are some who do what they have to to get tenure, then just stop trying, knowing they are protected.
    So I think in terms of performance tenure needs to be eliminated, but in terms of seniority and layoffs, tenure is and should remain a fundamental right.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  54. Anonymous, Savannah, GA

    Jack,
    Of course teaching is its own reward, (smile), however it would be nice to know that at some point (even though we have had furlough days and pay increases have ended indefinitely), job security would not be an issue. In some instances where institutions are fighting to keep tenure, they are making the requirements for the tenure review process nearly impossible to achieve. I wonder if this was the case in the shooting incident at the University of Alabama?

    May 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  55. Al from Orlando

    If tenure means nuturing children in the lower grades no matter how
    they were prepared at home, i am for it but good teachers rejoice when
    they see the progress that young minds are capable of.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  56. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    Before that happens, most central administrative offices should be done away with, with authority in each school assigned to the principal, union shop steward and a parent representatives. Let each of these boards be a separate bargaining unit and decide tenure at that level.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  57. Jim S

    Why should teachers enjoy the security in a job that isn't offered to others in various professions? Job performance is the gauge that private employers use in keeping their employees so why should teachers be any different. If tenure is kept, it should be revised to enable administrators to fire incompetent , abusive, mentally ill or lazy teachers who are ruining our education system. They shouldn't have to fear lawsuits when they dismiss someone in these categories.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  58. dave in nashville

    Just when did the first or last independent business person, you know, the self employed, ask for union, tenure, insurance protection and all the other programs that associations lobby for?

    We pay over twice the rate employees do into entitlement programs like social security, do not qualify for any unemployment when sales are down and fund 100% of our retirement, yet people think we have it made and do not count.

    Oh, and we pay 100% of our health insurance if the budget allows. Quit crying for protection you never deserved.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  59. Joyce Grissom, Marshall, TX

    The problem isn't with tenure. The problem is a system that does not evaluate and encourage techniques that are proven to help children learn. If an indicidual stays in the profession, they have to love children. Today's children are a wiser and weaker bunch. Promote continued education programs for teachers and notivate the children.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  60. Bill in Portales, NM

    The goals of the school should have priority.

    A school should maximize the quality of information that its teachers impart to its students.

    With tenure the teachers may not strive to maximize their teaching methods, nor strive to be up-to-date in material.

    Tenure should be phased out.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  61. JENNA ROSEVILLE CA

    Should tenure for teachers be done away with?

    Of course NOT. I don't think people understand what tenure truly is. They assume that it is only to protect the teacher but that is NOT the case. Once again mis-informed people are spouting off about what they know little of.

    Jenna
    Roseville CA

    May 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  62. Tom

    Unless and until tenure is abolished, you'll never be able to fix the education system. They will never reform from inside the system. It's going to have to come from outside the system.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  63. Lori - PA

    Jack,

    The focus needs to be on educating our children. As such, we need to allow schools to hire teachers that are passionate about teaching. If someone has lost their passion, they need to go. They aren't doing our children any good.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  64. Robert Dougherty

    Tenure was instituted and needed years ago because of the politicians using public education jobs to employ all their cronies. What makes anyone think if they do away with tenure that the politians will not revert to their old ways?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  65. Bob

    Jack,

    If there was a 'fair' way to evaluate teachers to get rid of those that "just wait till their pension" then I would be for it. What I worry about is how school districts say, "Let's save money, so we will lay off the teachers who make the most money," with nothing else to base it on.

    New ideas vs. experience?

    How many great teachers are out there that have given their life to teach our children, but then with 'x' amount of years in that grants them 'x' amount of '$' they could be laid off?

    No easy answer, though it's one that needs to be answered.

    Bob

    May 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  66. Thom Richer

    Why not? Teachers are wholly responsible for our social and economic woes. Why, if we didn't have teachers, we would have none of these financial and educational problems. Everyone knows that most teachers are incompetent and grievously over paid and that all other professionals, like doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc. are 100% competent and under paid. No slackers in these professions. No siree. And worth every hundreds of thousands a year they are making. Making...not earning. Teachers. Huh! What a useless bunch. As if they deserve job security and fair wages. Who do they think they are? Just our future. That's who.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    May 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  67. Cliff Glass - Rego Park, New York

    Yes. Tenure is a disincentive to continued teacher excellence. Only year-to year performance appraisals should determine continued employment.
    To protect higher-salaried, experienced teachers, all layoff decisions would then be made by a review board of one parent, one teacher, and a third party, such as an active or retired judge.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  68. Jason in Huntsville

    Yes. Tenure should go away.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  69. James Fernsale

    What began with a simple request for job security, many teachers have abused and taken-advantage benefit.

    It's just like taking something away from students because a few of them abuse it. Teachers are not above this. Sorry, you ruined it and you can't have it anymore.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  70. Jeff in Illinois

    Kill it! Kill it NOW! It is completely unnecessary at the K-12 level. No other job has this completely ridiculous perk. All a bad teacher has to do is toe the line until tenure is granted, then they are free to just phone it in until retirement.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  71. john

    old teachers are like old computers when you first get them they know everything but after about 10 years they are a little outdated and in need of a upgrade after 20 years they are worthless vs a new model.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  72. Jeff in Illinois

    Tenure /= seniority.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  73. Godstar

    So what's to prevent teachers who cost more because they are better, and thus have taught longer, from being fired for newer, cheaper teachers who have an unproven track record? I do believe merit and tenure should both go hand and hand.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  74. Jeff in Illinois

    Tenure does not equal Seniority.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  75. Adam

    Teacher tenure at the K-12 level doesn't make any sense. It exists at the university level to protect scholars from being fired for presenting new ideas that buck the mainstream. It ensures that scholars can publish without fear of being fired. There's no such demand at the K-12 level. High school teachers aren't publishing in journals, this is just about giving them a level of job security, with nothing demanded in return, that no other industry gets. On the other hand, I do think they should be paid like college graduates. Given the expense of college, if we demand a 4 year degree to teach, we should pay like it. Fire the bad teachers, no special protections like tenure, and pay well. The union will still exist, and will still protect teachers from bad firing policies and witch hunts.

    Those who argue that low pay is a deterrent to new teachers should also note that its this policy that makes it so hard for new teachers to gain a foothold in a system dominated by antiquated and entrenched old teachers whose jobs have to be pried from their cold dead hands. Its the establishment teacher corps that turns so many away, not the pay.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  76. Phil Klein

    My wife is a teacher and of course there are always teachers who pack it in after a certain number of years, but as a whole our teachers got into this profession for a reason...they actually care about our young people’s future. The system is not perfect but then again what system is? It seems to me that our educators take the brunt of a lot of missteps by our politicians and "trusted financial advisors" over the last few years. It’s a shame!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  77. Bobby V.

    Jack,

    Tenure should be done away with because it effectilvely eliminates accountability. No job for anyone, anywhere should ever be completely secure. Teacher's unions and unions in general should also be eliminated for the same reasons. They were useful in their time, but now are just a drain on everyone.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  78. Russ from WI

    Gee does the fact that the older teacher makes more money enter the picture? Removing the teachers that cost the most is what the money counters want they are not thinking of the kids education. Leave the tenure alone. The young teachers with all that ambition can find a new job . Oh, and I am not a teacher but I do have kids.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  79. Adam Simi Valley, CA

    And people wonder why our test scores and public school performance is dropping like a rock. Tenure should not only be abolished, it should be considered UnAmerican. In a society based on free market principles where people are to be judged on merit, concepts like tenure are anathema. Governrment sector workers do nothing to justify special treatment that their private sector counterparts do not receive. People in the real world have to constantly produce and compete to get better in order to be retained. Older workers have to produce in a changing environment as well. Teachers should be the same. If teachers' unions really believed that kids are better served by unionized teachers then tenure would not exist. They would agree the best teachers should be retained, not the oldest. Contrary to their ads, teachers' unions are not about what's best for the kids, they are about union greed.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  80. Jack Tripper

    If they can get rid of teachers for "poor performance", then level the playing the playing field so that they can get rid of students for "poor performance." If the teacher is a poor performer because the students are consistently under-performing, then the teachers who teach the AP classes have nothing to worry about, and the teachers you teach the tards better start packing.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  81. J marm

    I taught for 35 years and was shushed up at a table of teachers when I suggested that tenure had outlasted its use from WWII. I received superlative evaluations froms my principal. Did I receive any more $ in my pay check than the teacher who brought the racing form to school and read that during his plan time while I was getting the next lesson ready for the kiddies? Guess you know the answer to that. And we were both protected equally.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  82. NMR

    I think tenure should only be granted at the college level. Allows professors to pursue research and offer classes not popular with the establishment and not risk losing their jobs. At elementary and highschool level , tenure should not be offered. Keeping your teaching job should be performance based and teaching should stick to the basics.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  83. garichard

    Until parents step up and take responsibility...the education system will not be fixed. Teachers are supposed to be everything....fix everything and do it without complaint. Mandated parenting classes would be a good start....but no one has the guts to say that. Especially politicians.
    It's not your fault if your child doesn't read...even if they miss one day a week of school and never do their homework.....it must be those teachers. Give me a break.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  84. Pat

    Job performance should be the number one criteria for keeping teachers. Too many teachers with tenure do not put their all into educating their students–knowing that they have job security makes some lazy educators. I know specifically of one who never leaves her desk chair the entire 8 hours she is in the classroom. You cannot teach that way. The future of our country depends on the education of our students. With tenure, teachers have the guarantee of a job but students do not have a guarantee of a quality education.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  85. Mike in Illinois

    No – but it should be modified to allow for the removal of incompetent teachers. Tenure is important to protect academic freedom. Otherwise, teachers could be forced to teach things they know to be false, simply because an administrator or the public wants them to.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  86. Rich in Minneapolis

    I think some weight should be given to years of service when layoffs/cuts happen (as with many other jobs), but maybe teachers should have to maintain certain high standards in order to remain "tenured". Perform well or you lose the protection. Perform well and you can continue to focus on teaching our kids. That way the ones just "going through the motions" can be dumped!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  87. ArtInChicago

    Yes Jack, do away with it. The dynamics of this changing world doesn't support someone sitting on past achievements and being protected forever in the job market. If a teacher hits personal performance incentives (continued education, current certifications, etc.), they should get preferential treatments relative to cutbacks.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  88. Peggy in KY

    Why should teachers be different from anyone else? My starting pay was low but I'm not guaranteed a job after a certain number of years. Tenure should be ended.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  89. JoeNJ

    Jack, do you have tenure? What makes them special?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  90. Rob Guerrina

    Question – would folks respond the same way if the word "teacher" was replaced by the word "professor"? All college faculty work to achieve tenure – are we are talking about them as well?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  91. Mip

    PLEASE... YES ... STOP Tenure. Not only is it an easy escape for teachers who are burn out, worn out and should be out. It's an easy out for incompetent Principals who claim "our hands our tied, they are tenure" when documented behavior is swept under the rug and rewarded with a paycheck for JUST SHOWING UP!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  92. Shirley

    I say do away with tenure in every type of job and let union reps earn their pay. If they can prove someone is capable so be it. Otherwise they should try a different profession. Jack, tenure is what has ruined us as workers, supervisors, etc. We need to start earning our pay. Unions should be there to prevent unfair treatment, not the stupid stuff they do for most, not all, grievances today!!

    Remember when, Jack?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  93. Jim in Houston

    I'm a college professor. K-12 is just a publicly funded day care. K-12 does not prepare students for success in the work force or college. The entire K-12 system must be abolished.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  94. Jerry

    Maybe there needs to be a compromise: tenure is on good for 3 to 5 years, i.e., like renewing a driver's or pilot's license. How about that?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  95. Jon

    Teachers without tenure can be fired immediately without due process or cause. Teachers with tenure can still be fired, but administration has to follow due process in order to do so. The problem with the tenure system isn't teachers, it's the laziness or incompetence of administrators who fail to adequately evaluate individual teachers. Teachers should not be punished because their supervisors fail to do their jobs properly.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  96. Gen in Oklahoma

    Yes. And this is coming from a college professor who is married to a middle school teacher. We're facing this issue in the present as my husband was just let go due to budget cuts because he was the last one in. There are teachers in the same school who are protected by tenure who are lazy and going through the motions. The students in those classrooms are receiving a disservice. We as teachers should be held accountable for the work we do. We should be evaluated on on performance and not on the amount of time we've been in the system. The education system is not perfect and changes should be made!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  97. Ken in NC

    Consider that most students know it all so I say get rid of the Tenure and teachers. The students already know it all so teaching them is a waste of time and money.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  98. Amy Cook

    I get tired of hearing people say that you can't get rid of a bad teacher that has tenure. There are procedures in place to do this at every school. However it takes time and follow through from administrators. Sadly, quality administrators are few a far between and education suffers from serious mismanagement on the local and state level. I think we need to quit demonizing all teachers for a few bad apples that should be taken care of on the local level. If they are not, administrators are not taking care of business.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  99. TomD

    I went to public school for 12 years and I never saw or heard of a teacher get terminated for poor performance. Can you say that about any other type of job? Tenure was never needed in the first place. Get rid of it.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  100. Todd

    Jack,

    Eliminate tenure... It won't solve the problems we have in our schools. Republicans want to run schools like a business. Great, the only problem is that we can't get rid of our raw materials if they don't have what it takes. Dems want to allow unions to protect not only bad teachers, but bad citizens who believe they should get everything they want for nothing.

    Our society is the problem.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  101. ObjectiveGuy

    When the rest of us can get tenure in our jobs (so that our attention isn't diverted from our work, of course), then teachers should have it too. Until that time, get over yourselves!!! Teachers definitely play a very important role in educating our population, however keep in mind that they also generally work 9-10 months per year, PLUS the multitude of school holidays and breaks, so the job has some pretty good additional benefits. Teachers should be competitively paid, however like being a police officer or fireman, it's not a career that you enter into if you're looking to get rich. Here in Chicago, we have among the shortest school years, and the shortest school days in the country, and the dropout rate is horrendous! Even the kids that do graduate are shortchanged, since they do not receive nearly as much school time as their counterparts in other cities. This is the direct result of the clout of the teacher's union, and it goes directly to the detriment of the students. End tenure, and make teachers accountable, with student performance as the yardstick!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  102. Justin

    No, in my opinion: Tenure looks good for teachers i think without this many teachers would be laid off and education would go down in the U.S.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  103. Rick - Norwalk, CT

    tenure is a concept as old as Methuselah, and employed in the business decisions (and in many cases, mandated) of all sectors of government and the private sector alike, so why is tenure a four letter word with our educators? the recent tenure argument is a symptom to the disease named union...treat the cause, not the effect.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  104. Lynn from NYC

    Tenure does not give anyone a free pass...but honestly that is besides the point.

    Running a school like a business... that would lead to a new teacher in the same classroom every 2-5 years. New teachers are cheaper than experienced ones. We see how well that strategy works in business...try going to any big retail outlet and tell me how the customer service aspect works for you. Imagine having brand new, inexperienced teachers as the only teachers around to educate our children! It takes any teacher, good or bad, a few years to develop their flow. By the time they are reaching their best abilities they are canned for the newer and cheaper version.

    If you think education is bad now...watch and see how bad it gets if people who resent unions get their way!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  105. Lisa P.

    Yes, tenure ensures some sense of security, but in no way is it absolute. Teachers can be let go with proper documentation. Does anyone really believe that districts will continue to keep long standing teachers who get paid the most, because of their years of service will be kept when they can keep new teachers who get paid thousands less if we make it easy for them not to? New teacher are not as good as experienced teachers...Period! The more you teach the better you get. With most positions some people work hard until the end while some don't, but this will just give districts permission to fire teachers who get paid a lot more and keep new hires that get paid the least...

    May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  106. E

    For teachers teaching kids in a high risk group/school (example) Special ed EBD, how do you rate those teachers performance?
    My husband teaches in a school of only 50 kids but all of the kids are high risk, violent, EBD etc. I just don't think people think of the non-mainstream population or think about how many kids/teachers are in this situation. These teachers work 24 hours a day trying to get these kids to learn every day skills let alone reading, writing and math.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  107. Scott in Boston

    Jack,

    I have taught high school and I have taught at the University level. Tenure is a racket! It is an old time seniority system that works against the opportunities of the best and the brightest: both other teachers and students.

    I could understand a system that rewarded merit, but tenure is largely a political tool. It rewards sameness. It rewards crony-ism. It punishes change and growth. And worst of all it pays the highest salaries to the largely mentally absent.

    Giftedness, hard work and merit needs to take center stage with teachers–just as it does with students.

    The way it is now–paying the most money to the elders only–is like grading students solely on the basis of their social class...

    May 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  108. KJ Eutsler

    Teachers should be able to stay unionized or keep the tenure system. They shouldn't be allowed both. Having both makes them the best protected workers in America. No one has that much "employment insurance" and makes dismissing a poorly performing teacher virtually impossible (provided they do nothing illegal). If they want tenure, great – then the unions should go!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  109. Jeff Edwards, California

    The Republican Party and other conservatives have painted tenure as a way for incompetent teachers to avoid being fired. However, without it, teachers are at the mercy of school boards that are easily taken over by special interest groups (typically right-wing religious fanatics) who could then fire teachers for disagreeing w/ the social beliefs and/or social engineering that the school board tries to implement. I remember when the Vista, CA, school board was taken over by a bunch of religious conservative "stealth candidates" and the resultant animosity between the school board and most teachers and parents (the school board was voted out in the next election). Without tenure how many teachers would have been fired? Tenure also protects conservative teachers who disagree with liberal school boards.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  110. steve - virginia beach

    Not necessarily but last-in first out should be done away with. More importantly, we need to get rid of public unions. They are incompatible with a COnstitutional democracy and have evolved into a cancer on our country.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  111. Mark in Las Vegas

    No Jack, Tenure should not be done away with. That being said, tenure shouldn't be granted until after 3 years of satisfactory teaching. Tenure should not stop management from firing a bad teacher either. The problem has come to where the Unions have too much power and prevent management from letting go poor teachers. But, teachers need to have security like everyone else. Most jobs have some sort of tenure whether it's written or unwritten. Those that disobey the rules and get in trouble should be let go.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  112. Fred Schwiers

    Jack doing away with teacher tenure is long over due. Every ones performance matters. No were else are people guaranteed a position regardless of their on the job performance. The ones that are suffering the most are our children . They are not being prepared to compete in a global economy.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  113. fred

    Tenure should be illegal. How can the employees run the company? In this case, the "company" being the school and school district. In most communities across America, the local school district is one of the largest "companies"/employers in the area. How can bad employees say to the employer "You can't fire me no matter how much I suck at my job" ? Even other unions don't allow this to go on. My wife is a NYC teacher and she and many of her fellow teachers HATE the tenure prgram. (She is tenured BTW.) When she starts the next school year, she can tell what teacher her new students were taught by last year. All the teachers know which other teachers suck. Now my wife has to work double hard on some students to make up for an ENTIRE previous school year just so the kid won't get left back (and that would reflect poorly on MY wife). Bad teachers and TENURE must go now. No job is guaranteed for life if you suck at it. Job for life = USSR communism.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  114. Nancy, Tennessee

    Tenure gives teachers security and helps provide stability to the schools and to the education of our children. We don't need every school year to start out with a new list of rookie teachers that are trying to find their way. We need teachers that have learned how to handle the bully, the class clown, the insecure shy student, and the child with problems from home. Tenure is more than job security to the teachers, it is security in the classroom with an experienced teacher leading our youth to find knowledge.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  115. Gman

    No tenure should not be done away with for teachers....
    Tenure should be done away with for the Republican Party....

    May 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  116. Ray

    End it....labor unions are one of the 3 great evils destroying our country ....union workers do half the work for twice the pay!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  117. Jeff Smulyan

    Tenure protects teachers from principals who can fire you simply because they don't like you and without due process, not because of teacher quality.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  118. Randy

    Is the concept of a case by case basis unheard of? That would seem most logical to me.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  119. Joe CE

    No but it should be easier to firefor incompentce/

    May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  120. Jim Davis

    If the problem is the first in / first out layoff policy, how about funding education in a reliable way so that schools don't face the cycles of hiring and firing made necessary by fickle voters and even more fickle politicians? There are many ways to deal with poor teachers who have tenure without eliminating job security for the entire bunch.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  121. Truthwillsetyoufree

    Its made many teachers worthless by them knowing little can get them fired. Its not a free ride. I think teachers are one of our greatest assets and many are treated poorly but tenured teacher stop giving a dam in many cases and that aint cool.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  122. Clinton

    Layoffs should be based on performance and performance alone. Dont we want only the best teachers keeping their jobs when money is short?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  123. ACitizen

    Yes, like every other profession, teachers should earn their keep too. This should include college professors. Keeps everyone on their toes.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  124. Marjory

    Yes, Yes and Yes

    May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  125. Jon

    There is no need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Tenure is a valuable means to attract capable talent. The problem is when it shields teachers that aren't capable. If it can be modified to reward teachers that perform without protecting those that don't, that's exactly what we should do.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  126. louis wesler

    Tenure is a good thing IF FAIR AND EQUITABLE LABOR PRACTICES ARE USED.
    If you cant do the job you get fired, REGARDLESS of your seniority or your position in the school system.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  127. Del Martin

    Jack
    I'm sure CNN can get a young guy just out of college for a lot less money than you make,no? Why respect elders when kids are cheaper?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  128. RG Ericson

    Tenure protects the students, too. Without it, school boards would get rid of their most experienced and highest paid teachers and hire less experienced and lower paid teachers. We lived in a district that would not hire teachers with more than a bachelors degree or more than five years of experience. The students suffered from the inexperience.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  129. D. Weber

    Absolutely. Teachers should be rewarded for performance, not how long they've been in their job.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  130. Kristi P.

    Yes – I am a teacher of 9 years. I have moved from Florida to California. Having no seniority, my talents do not matter when it is time to issue lay off notices. It is disheartening to see the teachers who have tenure do the bare minimum to keep their jobs while the teachers that commit time and energy to students and lesson after school are booted each year. Like any job, your performance, work ethic, and education should be the basis of your continued employment. The most talented teachers should be able to negotiate longer contracts and more pay, instead of tenure.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  131. Dennis In NH

    I fully support teachers but i am against the teacher's unions, who's selfish behavior has ruined the public education system in America.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  132. Mike D.

    Absolutely. Jack do you have tenure for your occupation? Of course not and neither do I. Listen, tenure is a teacher union perk that limits a school boards ability to replace poor performing teachers.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  133. CK

    I am outraged at this possibility. My sister's husband has tenure, and he is always striving to keep things fresh, he is always taking courses, etc. He works very hard every day, and should not be punished by doing away with something he worked hard for and deserves! Give me a break, they barely make enough to survive on as it is. The younger generation wants to get something for nothing...work for tenure...earn it...what a concept!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  134. Roy H. Wagner ASC

    Absolutely not. A teacher who has invested their life educating our children should not be penalized because a few have used it as a means to protect poor performance. This suggests that wisdom is not rewarded at the hand of new ideas.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  135. Pete

    Tenure does not protect bad teachers. Poor administrators protect bad teachers by not doing their job. Too many good teachers would be fired because too many parents want good grades rather than learning. Read that as grade inflation. They tried to fire me for failing the mayors kid, even though he wouldn't even take a test or turn in any work. I was told to curve the class or face discipline. With tenure, I could stick to my principles. Without, I would have caved in to keep my job.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  136. Lyla Fox

    Yes, as a former educator, I know how tough a teacher's job is, but a permanent guarantee of employment is not the answer to assisting teachers as they work to ensure quality education for kids. Educators need to lose the union mentality and see themselves as the professionals they beg others to view them as. The first step is to end tenure. Lyla Fox, Phoenix, AZ

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  137. Michael Hackensack, NJ

    Tenure doesnt exist anywhere the corporate or small business workplace so why should it exist in teaching?

    The arugement for tenure is that it attracts new people to the filed which is important die to the low paying nature of the teaching profession.

    Everyone derserves "fairness" in the workplace and God know there's enough lawyers to help with that task.

    So, does anyone need tenure in any occupation? Of course not!

    Hard to believe we even still talk about this non-sense! Thanks Jack!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  138. John Blake

    Districts already have the right to dismiss incompetent teachers. Whether they do or not is a management issue at the District level. Could some be hiding behind the "tenure" smoke screen as an excuse to NOT do their jobs?

    Tenure was a negotiated provision in exchange for a cap on the earning levels of teachers. I don't know of many other professions which cap how much a person after 13 years of service. The trade off was that teachers accepted a cap on their earnings in exchange for job security.

    Districts' budgets are fueled by the need to match expenses with revenues. So if they can get a first or second year teacher at say $28K per year to replace a 20 yr veteran earning $46K , they will do it.

    This is the real argument here. Using the excuse that tenure protects incompetent teachers doesn't fly. No school district handed over that management responsibility. What the real argument is reduction of cost via replacing experienced teachers with new ones.

    By they way, if a teacher tries to switch to a new district –good luck. Most districts, if not all, will by-pass an experienced teacher with more than 5 years experience and go for the 1st year. In the end, your kids suffer.

    By the way, I am not a teacher. I'm an accountant who has served on a school board.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  139. Robert W. North Carolina

    No. But perhaps the method of obtaining tenure needs to be changed. What if the schools applied the same theory to the students in giving grades? For instance if a student passes every grade from kindergarten up maybe they no longer need to be graded for the rest of their school years, after say the 6th grade. But passing isn't enough. I would limit such an award to students that always pass and never make less than a high "B" grade in every class.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  140. Bob in LA

    Get rid of tenure. What other profession has tenure?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  141. John S.

    Jack – let's first remember that tenure does not stop a bad teacher from being fired, it just stops seasoned teachers from being laid off early on. While there are problems with tenure, and it could be improved, it does keep established teachers in the system. It protects those teachers who have put in the years and are earning more from being laid off for a new, "cheaper" teacher. To use a tired cliche, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  142. E

    I am wondering if anyone knows the process of trying to achieve Tenure, my husband is going through it right now and it's hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of work, evaluations, papers, reports, recommendations. Really, the bad teachers are slipping through.... not in Minnesota!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  143. David A. Short

    If states stop last in first out then administrators can chose to retain teachers with whom they have a personal relationship, but are not neccessarily effective teachers. Something like neputism. However, there are teachers who need to be either forced to change strategies or be laid off because they are not effective the way they are teaching. Some teachers refuse to differentiate for students who learn in a different way and thus put these students at a disadvantage in the education system. There needs to be an effect way of evaluating teacher performance that is not totally tied to test results. There should be evaluations by adminsitrators, fellow teachers, parents and possibly even older students. Colleges do some of this already with end of class evaluation sheets. Then adminstrators and a board of teachers could make recommendations regarding the teachers perfomance and possibly even performance pay increases. It can be done if the people who truely want to educate and not just sit on their "laurels" are given the support they need. Presently the State New York is taking funding from schools forcing multiple years of huge layoffs to balance their budget. How about each member of the government laying off three or four of their aides and office staff to make up the difference in the budget!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  144. Ray Kinserlow

    Since K-12 is mandatory, teachers should not have tenure. Since university is not mandatory, professors should have tenure.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  145. Fritz Hohenheim

    Older people who loose their job have a harder time finding a new one than young ones especially with an education that enables them to do nothing but teaching. If you do away with this, why not do away with all the unions and go back to the 19th century (that's "1800s" for those of us who aren't too great at math) ? That would be a field day for the financiers at wall street and their boys, the Republicans.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  146. Robin Dickerson

    Tenure is necessary to draw quality people into the profession. It's already a thankless, underpaid profession, where teachers are judged by so many things beyond their control. If you take away tenure, you take away any incentive to go into the profession. Tenure does not prevent any school district from getting rid of poor teachers. Taking away tenure would prevent many individuals with the "heart of a teacher" to go into the profession. Without tenure you will have a turnstile of incompetents coming and going, because nobody will put up with the abuse a teacher must take without some sort of incentive.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  147. Ryan

    when i was at university, i had many education majors as my friends, and none of them said that tenure was the reason they wanted to become teachers. i say end tenure as the profession will keep only those who have a passion for teaching, and not those who only seek a paycheck.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  148. Lisa P.

    Teachers do not get paid anywhere near the amount firemen and police officers do...not even close. While they can and do get overtime, we cannot. There is not another job in the U.S. that requires a college education, and more, that gets paid less than teachers. I have a master's degree in education and a manager at Mcdonalds gets paid more than I do. Yes we get more time off, but it's a lot more difficult than people give us credit for. How many of you have watched 30+ kids for 8 hours in a small class and were able to enrich their minds and lives while you're doing it?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  149. Clark Eberhart

    Hell no...don't eliminate it. If you go to the bosses for a recommendation all you will get is the winner of a popularity contest. I've lived in this world in a government job and it doesn't work.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  150. Charles

    I believe that Some teachers do need tenure because they are awesome teachers.. but then you come across those teachers like 5 out of my 15 previous teachers that just don't care about us students. We make complaints and nothing happens. Some of my friends failed some classes due to bad teaching by those teachers. I was lucky enough to have several Teachers without tenure and they seemed to be the best teachers I had. Due to the fact that they cared about us, and helped us have fun while we learned. I learned a lot from new teachers where as the old teachers expected us to know what they assigned and never helped if we needed it.... i could ramble on more .. but i should stop here.. I SAY NO TO TENURE..

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  151. Bill Davidson

    Jack

    Get your terms right! Tenure has nothing to do with longevity. Tenure requires that some be terminated for cause. Last in first out is about "seniority" The impetus of choosing to terminate based upon "seniority" will lead to terminations based upon age not competency. Like competency in reporting the facts and educating the public to the real issue.

    Bill from Fairport

    May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  152. Nick

    Jack,

    I don't think teachers should be protected by tenure if they aren't producing results. At the same time I would be very worried that eliminating tenure entirely would act to drive down wages as financially strapped districts would have more freedom to eliminate older, more expensive, teachers in favor of younger ones desperate for that first job and thus willing to do it at half the price. Does that answer your question?

    Nick, MN

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  153. Blake

    Yes, it should be done away with.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  154. Jeffrey C

    Tenure has been abused by the union. Unlike universities, who vet and choose those worthy of tenure, the powerful teacher's union allow even deadbeat, ineffective teachers obtain it.
    Like any other profession, teachers should be hired and fired based on results. Do away with automatic tenure. That hurts the good teachers who want and can teach and rewards those who just want to collect a paycheck until they are eligible for their pension to retire.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  155. John S

    I am a high school student and most of the teachers that have been there over ten years are terrible teachers and at least half the kids that get stuck with those teachers fail. The newer teachers make class more interesting and don't talk the whole hour and they actually care about their jobs. The 10 yr teachers could care less how their students do.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  156. Marcus

    Like most other jobs, MERIT should determine who stays and who goes. We must put students first in education and they deserve that all teachers and staff in schools are there becuase they are the best at their jobs.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  157. Susan from Idaho

    Yes. Job security should depend on performance not seniority. Time was tenure worked. All the teachers had to do then to keep the class in line and learning was to threaten bodily harm. Now they need to be body builders with an attitude. Ever see kindergarten cop?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  158. Jean Peloso

    No, tenure should not be done away with.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  159. don

    do away with tenure in order to allow the education system to get back to being the best in the world! it is deteriorating relative to the rest of the world

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  160. van le

    Definitely YES. Tenure for teachers should be done away with in order to compete in global scale. Let's reward teachers (or any workers) based on the contribution they bring to the table. This would keep everyone from being complacement and as a result, highest quality of services will be achieved.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  161. mike garvey

    Tenure was won through a difficult process because of school board abuses. The answer is not removing tenure. It is getting lazy administrators to do their job better. If teaching as a profession gets any less desirable noone will want to be in it.
    Mike G.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  162. Jeff

    Yes, tenure should be done away with – I do not have tenure, I hone my skills daily hoping I can have a job tomorrow. Yes, I have 30 plus years in my job and over 50 and I am not coasting. America does have time to coast in today's global competition.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  163. Terry E.

    Come on Jack... Younger teachers mean fresh, new ideas? Older tenure teachers are milking the system? The tenure issue is about reducing the costs by laying off older, more costly teachers... regardless if they are great or not.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  164. Deborah Seibert,. Co

    Yes. Any arrangement that guarantees someone they cannot be fired is a problem. That includes tenure and any other union agreement. People hide behind that and feel no obligation to do their job. They do just enough to collect the pay check

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  165. Kevin Corkran

    Well Jack, the problem lies with teachers. Teachers need to be held accountable for their students: a nationalized testing would determine how well a teacher is doing. Tenure should be done away with; but they should take into consideration if an experienced teacher's students have a low or high passage rate. If they have a low one, they should be first to go. The education system is vital for our country's future, and it is slowly slipping. It is the teachers responsibility to ensure that her students perform in the classroom in order to give back to the economy in the future

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  166. Doug Copeland

    No, Managements job is to manage! The administrators need to step up to poor teachers and address the problem teachers, not penalize high seniority teachers just to help balance budgets!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  167. Carla Springer

    Teachers need to work in the real world as all other working adults do. One's job performance is typically evaluated subjectively by one's superiors. A teachers job should be no different. And, teaching management MUST be held accountable for knowing what they are evaluating in the classroom. I have seen teacher get top evaluations while teaching factually incorrect information.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  168. Tom K. from Santa Monica, CA

    Jack,
    Yes. Get rid of it if it means terrible teachers can never be fired. Teachers should be rewarded for years of excellent service and should go through vigorous testing to keep them current, just like nurses, doctors and firemen. They should not be rewarded with a lifetime pension and benefits and with no incentive to teach our kids to the highest level.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  169. Greg Barber

    Jack, the simple answer is to do away with tenure. Money and organizational culture attracts top professionals, including teachers, not tenure. Tenure is wrong, silly too, and just look at the school systems and tell me, has tenure worked over the last 50 years? nope!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  170. Robert Lehrer

    Definitely. Teachers should be treated like any other valued professional. Teachers' present and future employment should be based on merit, not on tenure.

    Our society is full of professionals that get or keep jobs because they're effective, not just because they show up for work. This encourages us all to do a better job at what we do.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  171. Susan

    The promise of relative security is the one thing that continues to attract enough college graduates into teaching as a profession. Teaching is a HARD job, especially dealing with the parents (I am one of those, although I'm the one who is always volunteering to help)). Teachers need some protection from parents who try to get revenge when their kids aren't performing. It is absurd to imagine that teachers can ensure that every student will succeed, they can't control the home environment. Sending the message that someone can slave away in a classroom for 20 years and then be booted right when they hit the point in their career where a new job search is a nightmare is EVIL! All the people who have been arguing that big bonuses are essential to keep talented people in the financial services industry are strangely quiet when it comes to attracting the best teachers.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  172. Matthew B.

    As a New York City teacher, I can tell you that tenure does not lock in your job for life. Underperforming teachers, through observations by the administration, can be written up as "Unsatisfactory" and eventually let go. I have seen several tenured teachers resign in the past 5 years. Tenure protects a teacher form an irate, unreasonable boss. Who could begrudge such a system?

    The ills of many New York City schools comes down to a combination of mismanagement, some lackluster teachers, and adults that claim to be parents in title only and not in their actions. If we are to judge one group of people, let's judge all groups involved.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  173. dave in nashville

    The tenure that really needs a reality check is congress and federal, state government employees. It borders on criminal.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  174. ann perry

    No –Jack They have gone to school to teach kid and in todays world that a hard job.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  175. Paulette from Bristol, RI

    When my son was in high school, he constantly complained that his science teacher would literally put his feet up on the desk and go to sleep. When I complained about this, I was told that many other parents had complained as well, however because the teacher had "tenure", there was nothing they could do about him. Really! The unions have had control way too long!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  176. Matt

    Continued employment should be at the will of the employer. While length of employment should be a consideration when jobs are terminated it should be below performance, quality and continuing education work.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  177. Susie Rember

    I remember taking classes at Colorado University years ago. The teacher (with tenure) did not even show up to teach the class. One of his co-faculty was arrested for beating his wife and could not be fired. Tenure teachers can be just awful, I am glad we are finally getting rid of it.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  178. Nedra Roberts

    Interesting loaded premise you offer, Jack: experienced teachers are automatically poor at their craft, while new teachers are automatically skilled. Does the same premise hold true for journalists? Older, experienced journalists are without use in the profession, while young, fresh faces are to be respected for their lack of experience? Hmmm. And how old are you?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  179. David

    It's easy to blame teachers for everything regarding poor student performance. The truth is, teachers are only part of the blame. In urban public schools, most parents are not involved in their childrens' educational process at all. Also, funding deficits due to the wonderful war in Iraq have left urban public schools with no option but to lay off teachers when they actually need to hire. Additionally, most urban school students suffer from huge personal problems, such as poverty, gangs, broken homes, etc. (The list is long.)
    That being said, teacher unions are overall ineffective. The rules need to be redone so that teachers who don't meet minimal standards are released. Too many older teachers are coasting to retirement, at a time when more energy and care are needed.
    To abolish teachers unions completely would be a mistake, however. Many urban public school teachers work in overcrowded classrooms without special ed aides, etc. There needs to be sone avenue to complain without getting fired.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  180. Anna

    I've taught for over 20 years and am all for ending tenure. It protects incompetent teachers. Like other things unions have initiated, this is one issue that has outlived it's usefullness. As long as there is some method of protesting a firing/layoff, tenure needs to go.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  181. Melissa

    I am a teacher and too many times I have seen tenured teachers abuse the system. While the thought of tenure, the permanence and security of the position, can appear attractive there needs to be a checks and balances, another words the teacher who is tenured needs to be able to be removed from their position if they are not working up to standards. Unfortunately, we don't have this type of system and teachers who are tenured continue to teach at a substandard level.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  182. Joe of Kent Island

    And what will teachers be given in exchange? Better pay perhaps? Amazing how executives on Wall Street cause the near collapse of the U.S. economy and walk off with millions and billions of dollars, and who do state governments go after? Teachers!!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  183. Joe Murf

    Jack:
    A viewer since ur WNBC reporting.
    Tenure? Aside from government workers what "college degree required" employee has a Union?
    Airline Pilots?
    Teachers – give it up. Teachers may not be fully responsible for students droping out before HS graduation – but they s/b accountable.
    Tenure prevents that.

    Where do I sign up for a six figure pension with Health Care?

    Joe
    PA

    May 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  184. Frances

    As a parent of a ten year old I find it amazing that the bureaucratic crap that goes on in our education system is allowed to spill over and effect the classroom. Teachers not only have tenure, but they also get paid for 12 months when they only work 10 months out of the year. They receive vacation/ sick/ personal days as well as being paid for all of the days the schools are closed for holidays, they receive a pension and pay very little if anything for their benefits. There are teachers in our school system that are in retirement mode and are not teaching what are children need to advance on to college or the workforce. Tenure needs to be oblished. It's about time teachers be accountable for the growing population of children that are comming out school lacking the skills to read, write and do arithmetic. Anyone that looks at the statistics of where United States students rank compared to other countries should realize change needs to happen or our country is going to be in really bad shape down the road.
    Do not get me wrong, there are some really wonderful and talented teachers out there. Their job is a difficult one, especially if a child is not provided the support or motivation from home to learn. We as parents have to ensure that learning does not end when our child leaves the school, we need to be proactive and reinforce what our child learn.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  185. Jon, TX

    It would be nice to concentrate on just being an educator, however we are social workers, counselors, curriculum developers, test developers, babysitters, disciplinarians, extra-curricular advisors and coaches, perpetual students always learning new techniques. When we get home we are homework correctors, test graders, parental contact specialists. You need a degree and certifications. You are have evaluations, monthly walk-throughs by principals and administrators. We are paid a mediocre wage and benefits are declining. Tenure isn't the problem. The problem is systems that are not providing the teachers with the tools – smaller, better disciplined class rooms and a system that encourages children to learn, not a system that tests them to death.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  186. Carla Bolin

    I taught at the university level for 22 years, and dispite the claim that teachers needed 'protection' from discussing controversial ideas, the reality was that it protected incompetence and discouraged motivation once achieved.
    In this day of multi-media over exposure, it is doubtful that firing someone for controversial ideas would hold up in public or court. The day for the need for tenure is over.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  187. Derrick

    Everyone starts off young and inexperienced this is why you stick with what you have. Whats going to happen when it's a teacher shortage. some of the teachers with tenure needs to retire!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  188. Sheila

    Jeez Jack, find me any other job where you can fail and coast,
    In my business I am constantly looking for ways to create incentives where the employees income is tied to their performance. Where is the tenure incentive again?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  189. CBFAN23

    Tenure is just another UNION word for "you can't fire me no matter how bad my performance is"
    remember the UAW workers caught drinking and smoking dope on their lunch hour
    union member and teachers need to be held accountable, if they are not performing, then FIRE THEM

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  190. Kim Smith

    Unions are extremely hard to deal with since they are organized entitlement enforcers, and are not really interested in applying logic to a problem. While I can't imagine what it must be like trying to work in the school systems of today, there is a real need to promote and keep the best teachers, and have a defined exit scenario for incompetent or stagnate teachers.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  191. Hal Burgett

    Do away with teasher's tenure? Of course not as teachers would then be at the mercy of the principals. They could be fired for disagreeing with the principals agenda wheather they are in the right or not.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  192. Lee Crump

    My wife teaches at a low income school and has no problem with getting rid of tenure. The problem is that she is charged with teaching whoever walks in her door. When kids come in with dirty clothes, empty stomachs and no support at home they are behind the 8 ball to begin with. It is hard to judge a teachers performance on achievement because school populations vary so much from school to school and county to county. In a business if you are supplied poor quality materials to make your product you can switch suppliers to achieve your desired final product. Teachers must educate the kids they are dealt. Most learning is done in the home and if parents are not there to support and read to the kids they do not stand much of a chance.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  193. debby smith

    Absolutely NOT! Tenure does not protect bad teachers, it guarantees due process for all teachers. Until a valid system for assessment of student performance is created, teachers need this protection.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  194. Pam

    I am so tired of this. Why are teachers being attacked for wanting to keep due process intact? Tenure is not job security any more than any job that gives you due process before they fire you. This is not a business.

    I am waiting for hospitals to terminate doctors and states to revoke the licenses of doctors whose patients die. I am waiting for states to take away a lawyer's right to practice if they don't win their cases. I am waiting for this country to take away due process from police officers and firefighters and garbage men.

    Oh hell, they should just be able to fire anyone for any reason. That should do it. Lets go back to no protection for anyone. In fact, let's forget about civil rights and discrimination.

    This is ridiculous. I have an idea........let's change the word tenure to "due process". A rose by any other name is still a rose.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  195. Brian (From Chicago)

    To a point Jack. More should be asked of tenured teachers to prove they are engaged and have good performance records. They should be able to take the test they give their students, and pass. In addition, they should have continuing education requirements. If they follow this they should be able to keep a certain level of tenure. But a general first in first out policy has got to go.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  196. Sharon Sandell

    No. Anyone who has ever put years into an education and more years into on-the-job work can tell you that, once Big Business is allowed the freedom to replace them without penalty for new graduates and cheaper labor, we all might as well get used to being a third world country. Anyone who opposes unions is ignorant of history. It is no wonder politicians are not fixing the problems with state-run education: They need stupid, ignorant people who have limited job choices and who can readily be propagandized by corporate media to act against their own best interests at the voting booth as we are seeing today.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  197. Dan Brady

    Tenure also protects teachers from school district officials who would prefer to lower expenses by cutting the more experienced, and therefore more expensive staff. Your comment alluding to senior teachers as possibly just waiting around until their retirement kicks in is insulting. Senior teachers guide and mentor younger, inexperienced teachers. Senior teachers have the depth and experience we need in our schools. It would be a disservice indeed if schools were filled with young, inexperienced teachers. I appreciate the mature, seasoned teachers my children have had.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  198. m

    Simply, yes!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  199. Loren in Maine

    Yes, but only if it's replaced with a thoughtful and comprehensive teacher evaluation system like the Gates Foundation is studying currently. Please review this, see what it means to teachers, students, parents, and the community, and you'll see why this type of approach will work. And please discuss this, as you'll do all of us a great service.

    I'm a university instructor, a school board member, and the son of two teachers. But I'm also the father of two kids who need the best, brightest, and most capable teachers possible.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  200. Josh, Tallahassee

    The only reasonable voices in this comment section are those that see there are two sides of tenure. The worse thing is reading all the whinning..."I don't have a pension, health care, etc, so teachers do not deserve it."
    Funny how those whinning are those bashing unions. Unions established the baseline for benefits, but with their decline businesses are taking more and more away from workers. If you don't like your benefits situation demand better, or is your self worth that low?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  201. David Gardina

    Tenure as it is today protects the older teacher and puts the younger teacher at risk. To do away with tenure will reverse the system and allow for the dismissal of higher paid teachers regardless of their abilities in favor of lower paid teachers. No where does the system allow for job decisions based on teacher excellence.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  202. VNA

    I just finished my freshman year of college after a public school career of twelve years. I had teachers that won't be teachers this next school year because they were only recently added to my school. A lot of my teachers were younger and didn't have tenure, but it would be great to be able to go back and see them as teachers who do have tenure and are able to teach people besides my class and help people learn beyond simple book learning. I think the hierarchy offers a security to teachers who do so much and work so much for us as kids and maybe for our kids after us, and guarantees better teachers.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  203. Gloria -Connecticut

    Tenure was designed to protect teachers from the whims of politically elected school boards who might replace someone because they were the "wrong" race, gender, or religion or because a board member had a relative who needed a job. Tenure does NOT protect a teacher from being fired- tenure requires that a teacher receive due process before being fired for just cause. Right now many states want the cause of firing to be that the experienced teachers cost too much money. That's why they want to get rid of "last in, first out." They say it's that they need to save the jobs of the "younger, brighter, etc" teachers- it's really younger CHEAPER teachers they want to protect.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  204. cbarish

    Before I decide on either side of this issue, I'd want to see actual performance numbers of tenured versus untenured teachers. You seem to consider it a 'given' that older teachers aren't as good as younger teachers. I can see many reasons why that might not be so.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  205. Isabella Caputo

    I am a NYC tenured teacher. I object to the flavor of age discrimination that has become so prevalent in this very public discourse.

    I am in my 17th year of teaching and am getting better at it every day. Not a day goes by without some nugget of truth about this grand profession. I use a Smart Board, the internet, various other media, and other new methods for preparing my students for their future aspirations.

    Also, you must understand that tenure does not mean that teachers get a free ride. It means that we are given the dignity of having a process in which we have a means of redress should we be accused of some type of wrongdoing. For your information, we are assessed every year by our administrators. Our state is presently working out a new and more rigorous evaluation process.

    Please remember to report the whole story and not just good sound bites.

    Isabella
    Flushing

    May 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  206. Doug

    It's not a simple answer. Before tenure, school districts could simply fire all the experienced, higher-paid teachers when their budgets came up short, saddling students with less experienced, new college grads. Teachers could be fired because they were gay or black or pregnant without any regard to their ability or experience. But at the same time, tenure protects the mediocre and the less than mediocre. This is not a black-and-white issue as much as we want to make it one. Feelings are hurt when so-called "merit pay" comes up and teachers are paid better when they teach their students how to pass standardized tests more readily even when there's little evidence that standardized tests really tell us how much kids are learning. I guess the long and short is that I don't envy anyone having to make this difficult decision. But I think reductionist governors (and a certain mayor that I know of ) are also using tenure to bludgeon teacher's unions that do both good and ill both for their members and for the students affected by their members.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  207. Alan Coles

    Of course tenure should be done away with. Teaching is (supposedly) all about successfully teaching children, so that's the proper criterion for deciding who gets laid off. Tenure hurts children by preventing accountability based on merit. It also guarantees a safe resting place for those few who are lazy or just running out the clock for retirement. Treat teachers like private employees. Reward the good; lay off the bad.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  208. Rita Wakefield

    Again Jack, you frame the question to elicit the answer you want. I depend on tenure to protect the integrity of the system. If I have to worry about being fired, I am going to rethink giving a failing grade to a school board member's child. If the principal tells me to pass a student who has failed, I will feel pressured to do just that. Tenure is not the problem, the problem is a group of overworked administrators who couldn't possibly review every teacher the way they should. There is a procedure in place to get rid of bad teachers now but if you think teachers are overworked look into how many hours a good principal puts in. Education is becoming a thankless job. Thanks for adding to the perception that older teachers don't have good ideas that come with experience.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  209. Robert

    Why are employees being singled out again? Tenure was to protect teachers from "special interests" invading the teaching arena with one view, sound familiar? These people are your friends and neighbors not faceless automans leading your kids to perdition. If they have benefits you don't, stand up for yourselves and organize somehow and demand better. Don't begrudge those who have. Don't teachers also pay the taxes that are used to pay them?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  210. Mike Mincks

    I spent most of my working career as a union member,I think this is another government move to elimanate this countrys middle class,and turn us into a 3rd world country,,for cripes sakes put the blame where it belongs

    May 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  211. John

    I just can't believe that education became so determined on teacher rights and pay. What happened to the old school attitude that the children’s education is the goal? We are in an economic failure and we are depending on our future on the scholastic abilities of our children that will give the entire population a chance. TEACH OUR KIDS with dependable, successful and talented teachers. The rest can collect unemployment. I don’t mind seeing them collect that!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  212. John Moore - New Britain, PA

    Jack,
    Anyone who thinks that tenure has value for anyone except some teachers is as out of touch as those who think we can run the country exactly as was done in the 1700's. No one in any profession can expect such a practice.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  213. Mary

    As a teacher, I can tell you that nepotism is bad enough in most school districts now. If teacher tenure is abolished, pretty soon every teacher in the district will have the same last name. Tenure, for all its problems, offers some protection for the students and the general public from the family members and cronies of the administration.

    Sign me,

    Mary, from a small town in PA.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  214. fred

    To E –
    Please see my post below at 5:21pm.

    My wife is a Special Ed teacher. She hates tenure even though she is tenured. She also works her butt off for these kids. Not only are they Special ed, but most are immigrants. Their parents keep them indoors all day andnever expose them to anything, including going to the park, movies, the free library, etc. My wife teaches them and does all these other things for them as well. She is NOT ever worried about gettign fired because she works hard and the kids score great on their school and NY State tests. No need for tenure even as Special Ed if you know how to teach.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  215. Ann

    Yes, tenure should be done away with. . .I can think of no other profession where that kind of security exists despite performance. . .you are right, too many teachers who have been there for so long are simply going through the motions and don't really care if children are learning. I say this because as a parent, I have seen it first-hand in my children's schools. It's high time teachers who are passionate, talented and motivated to teach are shown the appreciation they need and deserve to continue and put the lazy, unfeeling, uncaring sorry-excuse-for-what-passes-as-a-teacher out the door and bolt it behind them. Teaching should be like a ministry for those in this field. It should be a calling and it is clear that many of those in the field are not called to teach but are simply biding their time until "something better" comes along or they can retire in comfort. In the meantime, our children are continuing to fall behind and suffer in poor educational factories we call public schools.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  216. John in Minnesota

    Tenure rewards one criterion only – time on the job. There are many more things that should be considered when retaining or advancing an employee. Performance is certainly one of them. If administrators can't use that criterion then the results of the employees are what we have experienced. Our educational results aren't good compared with other countries. I can't blame teachers for all of those bad results, but they keep asking for more money so things will improve. Why should we just pay more money for bad results. Come up with something else – like "we agree to be paid based on performance not just longevity." Now there's an idea.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  217. Dick B

    I think the NFL has a good way to deal with tenure. Maybe we should use them as an example to follow..... Oh wait a minute

    May 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  218. Horsefly

    You probably shouldn't have trusted the government to raise your kids in the first place.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  219. Mary Hinkley

    Principals and other school administrators have at their disposal all they need to get rid of "bad" teachers before they reach tenure. If they did their job early on–actually spent time evaluating and mentoring new teachers, tenure would not be an issue. Teachers work very hard, they have little status and they get paid much less than they should for the important role they play in our society. Removing tenure will just make it less likely that anyone with intelligence and skill will enter the profession.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  220. Lois Donnell

    Teachers need to have tenure for job protection and peace of mind... so they can devote a whole mind on their students... but, principals need to still evaluate frequently that teachers are working up to standards. If not, they should be helped to change or improve with every means possible. Only if the desired changes aren't made should firing the teacher be done.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  221. Bill Clark

    As a teacher with 33 years experience I Feel tenure is a necessity but it needs revamping. Schools are very political and a board member always knows someone looking for a job. Also Boards will go after teachers based on how much they make NOT by the job they're doing. It shouldn't be almost impossible to get rid of a bad teacher, in NJ boards can get rid of teachers with tenure, often the administration doesn't take the effort. I do agree that tenure needs revamping to get rid of bad teachers, but seniority matters. I am a better teacher because of what I have learned and been through. I teach special ed and I'm willing to do more for the students than a lot of young teachers. I'm there for the students, many young teachers are there for a job.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  222. Bob

    NO. Tenure should not be done away with. The original reason for tenure was to protect teachers from having to buy (kickback) to school board memebers to get and keep their jobs. A tenured teacher can be fired for incompetence. It just takes a little longer and more effort by administrators. Tenure is not a blanket protection for an incompetent teacher. Removing tenure will permit school board members to broker teaching position at will.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  223. Mike

    Tenure is valuable in attracting the brightest educators to any given educational system...especially in higher education. Performance measures in order to keep their tenure should be mandated.

    Student scores, performance on standarized tests and other measures as well as mandatory ratings by students, parents, staff and administration should be part of an overall process.

    Last in...first out should cease in favor of true maeasurable performance and in-class supervision.

    Mike

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  224. Ginger

    Good teachers who have taught for so many years will not have the ablility to question administrators who practice inappropriately behaviors and who often support teachers who gives in to parents, change grades, and although are poor instructors, get passes for bad teaching.
    Good unions will work with administrators to terminate bad teachers but often parents insist these teachers stay put.
    There will be a revolving door if tenure is eliminated.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  225. Mary Anne

    Yes, yes, 1,000 times yes! My first two years of teaching in a small, rural, mid-western school district I was pink slipped due to the last in first out rule. Fortunately, I was ultimately rehired both times due to attrition. It was not until I moved to a larger city and began teaching in a parochial school system which had year to year contracts that I witnessed teachers being removed from positions due to poor performance. Tenure does not promote teacher performance!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  226. Tyler

    Yes! Tenure should be done away with. I am currently a college student, and it is so noticeable whether or not a professor is tenured or not. Professors who are not tenured are by far the better, more lively teachers, while tenured teachers seem to float through lectures and could really care less about the student. A broad generalization, but my experiences nonetheless.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  227. Bob fom Long Island

    Tenure should be modified, not done away with. Old dead wood should be held accountable for not trying because it’s close to retirement time; however, without some protection teachers can be fired for not towing the party line! Examples: Global Warming, Evolution, Women Health, and other hot button issues some would want to go away.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  228. Ron

    Absolutely not.... Although it's not a perfect system, it still protects excellence in our schools. In particular were there is a bad administrator. Excellence in administration equates to excellent in the classroom. Good principals find ways to motivate or remove poor teachers

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  229. Tree

    As an educator with 17 years on the job, I see the need to revisit the idea of tenure and the practice of "last in, first out." The suggestion of a longer time in service until permanence is a good one, but one area that is still a slippery slope is who is going to do the evaluation? Can an administrator that knows nothing in math evaluate a math teacher? Do we base evals on test scores? I don't have the answers on that one. What I do know is that teachers that bring rigor, hold the line, and make students earn their grade, usually get the most grief, which make them targets. For me, parents all across this country are the ones who are not doing their job and sometimes I wish I could fire them. They are raising a bunch of lazy, entitled, little whiners that need a swift kick in the ass. Sure tenure needs to be looked at, but at the same time parents need to start parenting and taking their share of the responsibility.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  230. Cee, La

    In the Parish I live, the governing body, school boards are made up of elected people, politicians if you will.....they oversee the School Superintendent... Tenure helps protect teachers form being fired, and replaced with someones, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, girl friend......get the drift.......so no I think its just fine.......

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  231. Williams

    Hi Jack,
    Tenure is a very important part of academic freedom: It allows teachers to teach without restraint, it keeps administrators from firing more experienced/costly teachers, and it keeps administrators from making baseless decisions. We need to concentrate on administrators they are responsible for school success, not teachers. As a teacher I have seen less than favorable teachers become model educators with good leadership but the opposite is unfortunately the norm where poor administrators destroy the innovation, talents, and skills of teachers. Tenure makes all of us more accountable to students.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  232. Anne New York

    Tenure does not mean a job for life. Any teacher can be fired at any time for many reasons with due process. Tenure protects biology teachers from being fired for teching evolution. It also protects those who dare to speak out against mismanagement which harms our kids. With the cuts and caps being imposed on our schools we will need teachers who are able to speak up more than ever.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  233. Anne

    My four children are all married and have children of their own and they are seeing the same issues my husband and I saw when they were in school. Unfortunately, tenure only guarantees a job and doesn't ensure the "best" education for our children. Teachers should be made to reapply each year and not receive tenure automatically – we need to ensure we are educating our future with the best and the brightest. If that means replacing teachers, we must do it!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  234. Brian

    Jack, I think you're missing the bigger question here. It's not about tenure. The root of the problem is collective bargaining with taxpayers. There are many benefits public employees get that – if put up to referendum in states like NJ – would be overturned. One day we'll look back in disbelief at what we were still putting up with in the early 21st Century.

    Brian / Fair Lawn, NJ

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  235. June

    Oh boy Jack! I have been teaching for six years in NYC and I am currently tenured. When will you news reporters get it right. Tenure does not provide a job guarantee. It only provides due process. ALL teachers are evaluated multiple times throughout the year. A tenured teacher who receives dissatisfactory evaluations can be fired. Just think, if tenure did not exist they would most certainly get rid of the most expensive teachers good or not. It is a political game. Speak to any teaching professional, it takes years to become a good teacher. In addition to yearly observations and review, ALL teachers must go through professional development courses or they lose their licenses. Who said older teachers do not have fresh ideas. Absurd!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  236. Gwen NJ

    I am a teacher and from the teachers I've seen (and experienced) I don't believe that someone should keep their job just because they've managed to "outlast, outwit, and outplay" their students. I've witnessed teachers with tenure talk on phones or read newspapers etc. while their students slept, played cards, etc.. Or taught the exact same thing in the same way as when they started their careers. There are great teachers out there who often are overlooked or overburdened (picking up the slack).

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  237. Carl

    Good, efficient teachers would have nothing to fear if they perform well. Eliminating tenure would enable poor performing teachers, whether newly hired or long term hires, to be replaced. How can this possibly be bad for the students!?

    Also, it would allow districts to get rid of the insidious 'rubber rooms' where unionized inefficient, not to mention many potential criminals who have abused children, stolen funds, etc., can be gotten rid of! Under current union practices this is sanctioned and protected!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  238. David Nova Scotia

    Yes and why stop at teachers .... high paid news anchors and their over the hill staff should step aside for young members. Hello and just how long have many Senators been in power . How did we ever make it will the old bunch of teachers we were given. LOL

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  239. Greg

    No, teacher tenure should not be done away with. Districts would get rid of the more experienced teachers with more education that make 60K and keep the less experienced teachers with less education who make 35K. It would come down to salary and lower the quality of college students entering the field of education. Teachers make much less than other professionals that have masters degrees, and job security is the only financial aspect that attracts college students to education.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  240. Margaret Schimizzi

    Jack,
    Tenure does not guarantee a teacher their job...it only guarantees due process of the law. It's not tenure that keeps bad teachers teaching, it's administrators (who are also able to receive tenure) not doing THEIR job that enables bad teachers to keep their jobs.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  241. Mr. Kim Kittle

    Tenure in Tennessee never was meant to nor does it protect bad teachers. Why blame teacher tenure when the real issue is bad administrators? Administrators who will not replace poor teachers. Document, advise and demand that poor teachers improve and if not then fire them. No tenure law nor teachers union can prevent a just dismissal. Tenure is there to protect good teachers who give tough and challenging assignments but get no protection from complaining students and hovering parents. Politically motivated and over paid administrators too many times do not protect their good teachers and just whine about the poor ones. Do not blame the teachers, blame their bosses for not doing their job.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  242. Pete

    You assume new teachers are high energy with good ideas. I supervise new teachers for a college. Most new teachers take 3-5 years to develop a style that is effective. Many effective techniques are learned from experienced teachers. More than half of new teachers will leave the profession out of frustration within the first 5 years. With mentoring by an experienced teacher, that attrition will drop considerably. Imagine a hospital that dismissed experienced doctors because they were too expensive and looked for 'fresh young doctors with fresh ideas". I'm not at all convinced that this would foster confidence.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  243. David in NJ

    I am actually a former teacher that went into the private sector, and I do see both sides of tenure, which is why I think there should be some kind of middle ground. I never understood why tenure has to be an all or nothing status. Chris Daggett (independent in the 2009 NJ gubernatorial race) actually proposed an idea of having to reapply for tenure every few years as a gradual phase-out. I don't see why this has to be part of a long term phase-out plan. Wouldn't knowing tenure status and seniority could be removed keep teachers on their toes enough to not become complacent, yet provide them a security blanket if they were up to par for the students? I think so (even though I voted against Daggett).

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  244. Kate

    Are states suddenly seeing a glut of older teachers doing poor jobs, put to shame by the sterling performances of incredibly great first year teachers? I don't think so. What is it that is so problematic about those older, more experienced teachers? They've been working for years, have valuable experience to impart, and - on the minus side - they are higher up on the pay scale than the first year teachers. Getting rid of tenure is a financial move, not a move to provide greater quality of education to children. Will they young teachers become great teachers? A lot of them could become fantastic - as fantastic, perhaps, as the inconveniently older teachers whose greatest transgression is that they've done a great job and received greater compensation for it.

    Is this a common maneuver in the private sector? Yes, and our businesses suffer from it over the long term, but the CEOs make out well on financial balance sheets in the short run, and that's how we now determine if businesses are successful. As far as I'm concerned, the less that we run schools as we run our businesses, the better.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  245. Jill in Canada

    Are you serious? So you think people should go into teaching for very little pay (as compared to say uneducated factory workers), have no method of striking or bargaining in the future for better wages or conditions, and have no chance of tenure, so that some governor's nephew for example could ride in and take his job just because he's younger and therefore has fresher ideas. Have you considered who in his right mind would enter a profession with that kind of oppression and deadend future. I hardly think you'd be attracting the cream of the crop. Pay well, offer great conditions and a chance for a great future and you'll have so many applicants you could pick and choose from the best.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  246. Sandy Frederick

    Jack- I've been an nurse (BSN) for over 35 years. Every time I seek a change in my specialty field, I basicallly start over. I have worked for a large corporate hospital system for over 20 years, for a hospice organization for over 14 years, and still I have no guarantee of employment less seniority. I started out in elementary education until I changed my major to nursing back in the 70's because "nurses were needed". I have to "stay on my game" at 59 to secure any position I would like to advance to-- please help me understand what is different about teachers- they should have to re-apply every 5 years and have their performance evaluated- Am I crazy???

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  247. Jeff Hastings

    Here's the deal, Jack:

    I've been in education twenty plus years and have learned that teaching talent is very democratic; age is simply not a factor. Generally, it takes about three years for a teacher to find their most effective groove, though some never do.

    The thing is, I started out in education at less than 12k annually. I then got a Masters degree and two teacher certifications and continue to attend grad classes to renew my credentials every five years. Meanwhile, I've emerged as a leader in my field. I'm also, after living in crummy apartments and driving rusty old cars, finally at the top of the pay scale and making a decent living.

    In budget strapped schools, do you really think would my teaching performance would make any difference if I could be replaced by a cheaper teacher? No way: I'd be out on my bum at age fifty.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  248. Kevin

    Jack,
    Let teachers be judged by performance, like any other profession. We have ALL seen Bad teachers that should have been fired LONG ago, yet are protected by tenure. Get rid of it !!! We should be focused first on giving our children a good education, not protecting weak teachers !!!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  249. Karl in PA

    Tenure is not a job guarantee, it is a due process guarantee. Tenured teachers can be fired just like anyone else. It means that a process needs to be followed so that administrator with agendas can not simply dismiss teachers without a due process. Without tenure and seniority systems, school districts who need to cut the budget would simply cut the top paid teachers, with no reason for analysis.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  250. Ron in Illinois

    Yes, tenure should be eliminated, and replaced with a performance review system similar to what is in place in some private sector jobs. If a teacher is performing poorly, the administration should have the right to give the teacher a poor review, but the teacher should be given the opportunity to improve over a specified time frame. If they do make changes and improve, they get to keep their job, if they don't, they get fired. When you remove the possibility of being fired for poor performance, you remove a necessary incentive for these teachers to perform.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  251. Carl Clavadetscher

    Life tenure is irrelevant if reasonable seniority protections are put in place.

    If faculty first contracts were 1 yr, then 2 yr, then 3 yr, then five yr, with review in each of these periods based on objective performance, tenure for life would become irrelevant, and faculty would have reasonable protections.

    Rolling senior faculty out routinely to put in cheaper newbies is and always should be a horrible practice. Use of non-tenure track part-timers, which is widespread to limit salaries and benefits, is a horrible practice.

    I have been full professor since 1982, am retired from CSUS, and DOD's NDU.

    Carl
    BS, MS,MS,PhD, MBA, MS-MIS, ABD

    May 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  252. Joe Sferlazza

    Hi Jack (no pun intended),
    Tenure is a trade off like anything else. The teachers with tenure spent years proving themselves to get tenure. It assures them due process before being fired, noting more, nothing less. Are there are some dead wood" teachers just waiting to retire? yes, but most older teachers are masters at what they do, and the students love being in a class where learning is taking place with a seasoned proffessional, not some new person that has not developed and refined their lesson plans to a fine tuned machine. In addition, it assures that a higher paid teacher will not be replaced by a cheaper, newer one just to lower taxes. The proof...just ask my former students.

    Joe Sferlazza
    Former Teacher

    May 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  253. russoxford

    Absolutely tenure for teachers should be done away with! We want our kids to be taught by the best, not necessarily those that have been around forever. As for layoffs, there are plenty of us that have been in the workplace for a long time that have gotten the ax.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  254. Mattie

    Jack, I believe this issue should be examined from two different aspects, tenure and performance. First hold educators responsible for their performance through an annual evaluation in which the teacher is rated on several criteria with an emphasis on classroom performance. Once evaluated, establish a cut line – rate as above or below that mark. From that point rank order based on seniority and cut where required starting with those who did not meet the cut line (not meeting standards) before entertaining losing your best and brightest educators.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  255. Kathryn

    Teacher tenure should remain! If anything, the need is greater than ever before. Tenure was created to protect teachers from nepotism and the whims of politics. It takes a teacher at least 5 years to become proficient. Furthermore, a significant proportion of teachers leave the profession within 5 years. If it was such a great profession, you wouldn't have a retention issue. But the current political climate would sure like to save money by ridding schools of those with higher paying salaries. So is it really about tenure or is it just money. As soon as the economy takes a positive turn, I suspect you'll see retention become a problem once again. The problem isn't tenure – administrator's simply need to do their job and document! State law does allow schools to get rid of incompetent teachers.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  256. Ray in Knoxville

    Yes, Jack, trade tenure for teacher testing and base job security on those results. Create a scale on which teachers are measured, with those at the lower end being the first to go when cuts have to be made. This way older, more experienced teachers can survive on their merit and won't subject to being fired simply because they earn a higher salary.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  257. Randy

    Yes, right along with corporate personhood, lobbying, tax evasion, corporate/government revolving door, tax-exempt corporations, media monopolies, etc..

    May 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  258. Larry Bonacorsi

    I'm a retired teacher and feel that doing away with tenure is not a good idea. It could be used to "get rid" of older more expensive teacher in favor of lower paid entering teachers to help balance the budget; experience means nothing. It leaves the door open for local "dirty politics". I have seen both of these instances in my 38 years of teaching.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  259. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    No! No! No!
    For every bad teacher that makes it to tenure there is an equally bad administrator that allows that teacher to get through the probation period. Also, tenure is not a magic potion for employment, teachers can still get fired or laid off even with tenure.

    If teachers were not protected in this way it would come down to the least experienced and least income teachers being the mainstay of the education system as believe it or not administrators worry more about budget than they do about education.

    I say, leave tenure and unions be and get better administrators.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  260. Joe Morgan

    Yes tenure should be done away with. However, it is only the beginning. The whole system needs to change. The children have become the last concern for many of the teachers and school administrators. The key will be addressing the power of the teachers unions.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  261. Ralph Spyer

    Why would want to treat people with respect ,this is a new day, the holidays are over.Teacher get to old to slow ,out with the old in with the new. Tenure has no place in this new America.,they shoot horse don 't they ?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  262. David Russell

    You completely misunderstand and mis represented tenure and are confusing it's protections with LIFO which is an accounting principle.

    Tenure in public education simply says that a teacher can not be released without cause. prior to receiving tenure protection, teachers are "at-will" employees and can be released without cause or reason. Tenure usually requires administration to provide some evidence supporting the cause for dismissal. This evidence is then brought before a 3 member panel (admin appointee, union appointee and impartial adjudicator ). this panel will hear the evidence an render a ruling. Even then, the School Board has the right to overturn the ruling. Most unions are required by Ed Code to provide legal council for the teacher in dismissal hearings. This is not a guarantee of a job for life – that is an urban legend that any responsible journalist will work to dispel.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  263. Athena

    Tenure should be granted, but not after only a couple years. University professors have tenure normally after 7 years and only after they achieve an international reputation in their field. Teachers in secondary or elementary schools should NEVER get tenure after 2 or 3 years.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  264. fred

    NYC schools "rubber room" says it all. Look up the facts on the internet. Just type in "NYC schools rubber room" and read what comes up.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  265. Maxine Portis

    No, tenure should NOT be eliminated as this would open the door for age discrimination as well as favoritism. I retired after 32 years of teaching and personally witnessed the beginning of these issues.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  266. Ellen Thomas

    In Missouri a teacher can get tenure after 5 years of teaching. Administrators have 5 years to "weed out" incompetent teachers. If incompetent teachers get tenure, then administrators have not done their job. Also tenure teachers can be terminated. Again adminstrators must follow the outlined procedures and do their jobs. Tenure should be maintained.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  267. Lindy

    Did you know that it is up to the administrator to document when teachers are not doing their jobs? Did you know that the documentation can be used to dismiss a tenured teacher? Did you know that it does happen? Give me a break. Teaching is not like other jobs. We do not choose who comes into our classrooms. It is difficult sometimes to educate children who have not had a good nights sleep because parents were fighting, again. It is difficult sometimes to educate children who are hungry because parents did not provide breakfast. It is difficult to educate the child who is worried that parents are going to loose their jobs or house or have to leave the country. ONE test a year tells my state how well that child is doing in my class. What happened the night before the test? The morning of the test? Who determines what is good teaching? Because teaching deals with "human" products, the end results does not always turn out as expected. Come to my classroom and walk in my shoes and then tell me I do not deserve some respect and job security.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  268. Fokjou

    Dump tenure – let the teachers suffer and worry the way they make their pupils suffer and worry😉

    May 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  269. Sandstone.

    "I didn't know they had such protection? A Union, is one thing for rights to argument, but protection of this kind? Seems a little over the top, and at least it should be rewritten; for bringing things up to date!"

    May 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  270. Brian

    It all boils down to money. More money means smaller class size and the perception is that the teacher is better than a teacher in another school with a much larger class size.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  271. Tim Crowley

    Yes. There is no reason that teachers need a special gimmick in the system to protect them from being held accountable for poor performance. Even when a teacher is undeniably incompetent or caught acting inappropriately, tenure and the teachers union will make it virtually impossible to remove that teacher without lengthy and costly litigation. If we want the best for our children, let's get rid of a system that sometimes perpetuates the worst

    May 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  272. Patty Flores

    Yes, I believe tenure has outlived its purpose. I believe the majority of parents with children could probably site an experience where a teacher of their child should have been let go. Some of these teachers no longer care about anything except making the most of their retirement. Of course, not all teachers are like this. Some teachers are dedicated to their students success right to the end of their careers, but it should be easier to weed out the less effective.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  273. anobody

    This is code for we want to abolish the retirement incentive, fire well paid teachers, and hire teachers for a very low wage and then hire scores of administrators to blame the new teachers when the students are not performing well on standardized testing. Typical run around obfuscating B.S. this country is known for. I say attach to the vote that ALL administrators in the system must work for half of the wage of the lowest paid teacher in the system.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  274. Dee

    Teacher tenure came about because of the extreme nepotism that went on in the educational system. Tenure is a safeguard for those teachers who spend a lot of time and effort on education and passing that education on to students. In earlier times when the local politician's child needed a teaching job out went the hard-working teacher who had been doing a fine job. Be sure in the hiring process that the right people are being hired and then be sure you follow-up and evaluate the teaching staff. When tenure is granted it should be for merit. This is a win-win for all. The teachers win and the students win since they have informed, well-educated teachers who love their job and feel secure in their position,

    May 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  275. Mike S., Dayton

    I don't understand why the Bush Recession justifies open season on teachers. The limited protections they have took decades to achieve, and it certainly didn't cause the current fiscal crises of these states. The result of this insane solution will prevent smart people from going into teaching, making it a fly-by-night profession where states constantly replace the higher paid with lower paid in a revolving door system.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  276. Janie

    Plenty of very qualified teachers still choose to teach in private schools without tenure. In fact, some of the most dedicated prefer to work in that environment where there is more accountability among all the parties involved and where they can actually spend most of their time teaching instead of trying to do damage control. Besides, competition based on ability and results is a good thing in most industries. Besides, lack of expectations and measures usually leads two co-existing conditions in the workforce – lackluster performance by low performers and frustration among those who do the job well and care about what they're trying to do for children and their families as they watch the damage and lost opportunities at the hands of inferior workers. Education is not a consequence neutral activity; it really, REALLY matters!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  277. e. l. fuller

    Absolutely. What other professional has a lifetime lock on a job? And at the expense of whom? Our children! I'm tired of hearing how "underpaid" teachers are. What a joke! But if they don't like the pay, they can go and find another job in the private sector. Good luck to them on that.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  278. Anne in Santa Barbara, Ca

    Yes! Tenure should be done away with! As a mother of 3, I have witnessed too many times teachers who have been at the school, 'forever'. They are anything but a stellar instructor. They tend to get in a rut, and the kids are onto this. They go through the motions, but rarely bring anything new to the arena of education. The students love the teachers with youthful enthusiasm who get the kids involved with their own education.
    We have a daughter-in-law who graduated with a Masters in education, who is capable of being a U.S. history teacher here in town, but is a teacher's aid for students who are challenged either metnally or are not completely English speaking. There are teachers who are teaching these challenged students who do not have the credentials for teaching these students, but are called to do so due to an 'emergency' situation. There are also teachers in town who are tenure who are all dried up. They need young people, like our daughter in law, who WANT to teach the subject they earned their masters in!
    We need new, fresh teachers as well as new, fresh laws, because it's our kids who are not getting the best education because of this flawed law.
    Anne in Santa B

    May 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  279. Rodger Crowe

    Tenure, in any employment system, should be abolished. It is an antiquated form of job security that should not be tolerated. Employment systems with tenure are economically and functionally obsolete.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  280. Marty Burns

    As long as we're going to attack the American educational system's teachers....unionization, tenure, poor performance of students, etc., why don't we also get rid of academic freedom, the Constitution, states rights, and other cumbersome concepts? Forget that we are the most productive nation in the world with the "concept" of equal opportunity under the 14th Amendment. Blame the teachers. After all they're making BIG bucks for a thankless job. Don't knock them unless you've taught for at least two decades...or go back to college and earn a teaching certificate. It will only take you five years and several more if you want a Master's degree. Then you can be the knight in shining armor who single-handedly slays the evil institution of public education.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  281. Brian

    The tenure system protects senior teachers from being fired simply because they cost a school district more than a junior teacher. Without it, experienced teachers will be fired by administrators out to cut budgets. Given that education is one of the ten lowest-paid degrees in the country, understand that without some sense of security, there is absolutely no good reason for anyone to go into teaching. In my state of Indiana, our Republican governor has already done so much damage to my profession that I'm looking to change careers. But feel free to jump on the bandwagon and attack teachers like there's no tomorrow, because maybe tomorrow you'll be the only one left to teach your kids.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  282. Mike

    Jack,
    I am currently a teacher in Illinois, but I have not always been one. I worked as a manager in a company when I first graduated from college and made great money for the first six years and probably would have continued in that position, but for the fact that I did not feel that it invovled anything that really mattered. I wanted to do something special. I earned my masters and became a teacher. It is a job I have come to love and cherish. It is fun every day with my students. I am now tenured and that is ok. There are policies in place in all school disrtricts to address struggling teachers. Most of the policies go unused because they are said to be difficult. Good administrators are effective at weeding out those that need not teach. People forget that tenure came about because of the political nature of local school boards. In the past, before tenure, teachers were let go if for example a teacher gave a bad grade to someone politically connected or if a relative of someone important needed that job. If you eliminate tenure without any safeguards to protect quality teachers, masters educated teachers like myself will find teaching not a safe financial option for our families. We will simply do something else that does not mean as much, but is safe for our family.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  283. SGT RAYAY

    I think they should go by performance and time as some of the items that are looked at when making cuts but performance should carry a heavier weight than time alone. We as a nation are failing our kids because the school system does not provide enough resources for our students to compete in this global economy. This has a direct effect on our countries future and on the future of our children.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  284. Michael from Blacksburg

    If you want kids to continue to learn, let teachers keep their tenure.

    By removing tenure, you are forcing teachers to expend more of their energy and time playing the politics necessary to keep their job, and not focusing it on where it's truly necessary- with the kids.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  285. L. J. Williams

    Teachers need job security like every one else. Tenure is earned and should remain intact. More than 99.9% of all teachers deliver 110% every day and work late into the evening preparing for the next school day. They
    are made scape goats for the failure of parents, government officials and, in some cases, their communities. Support our teachers, they deserve it.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  286. Buddy from Illinois

    Jack

    Definitely not! For the reasons you gave when you introduced the question. It provides job security for teachers, especially in times of tight budgets. Trust me, without tenure administrators who are looking to cut cost would dump the experienced teachers, regardless of performance, because they have higher salaries. No doubt there are probably some lesser quality teachers protected by tenure, but I don’t believe that is the norm. Most senior teachers are pretty good at what they do and the using this argument to get rid of tenure is nothing more that cover for the economic motivations of those who what to get rid of the older, more expensive teachers. Providing a few examples where tenure is protecting a sub-par teacher is not evidence for rendering judgment on the rest. This is like me watching you and making the case that most older television journalists are crotchety old farts from Nevada.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  287. Dale in Missouri

    The longer you are on a job the proficient you should be so the criteria for a job is how you do the job and not how long you have the job. If you know you will have your job next year all you have to do is show up, Let's terminate tenure.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  288. Jim

    any indidual who plans to take up teaching in this country is too dumb to be a teacher. Why on earth would someone want to enter a profession that will get rid of you as soon as your hair turns gray for some untested kid just out of school. Funny that the same people who are proposing all this are ancient old people who never accomplished anything in life so they chose to work in politics. If teachers are so inept at teaching at the age of 50 shouldn't all those politician and CEO's get out of the way for the kids who are so much smarter due to their education by old people.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  289. Tim Rutkowski

    Dear Jack,

    Tenure does not protect bad teachers. Teachers with Tenure can be let go / fired in a single day. Tenure protects teachers and alow them to do what is best for their students. Let me ask a hypothetical question? Why would anyone go into teaching if they would be forced to get a double masters and not be protected.
    Education is not broke everywhere! Don't blame Tenure! There are ways to remove a teacher that is doing a poor job. Unfortunetly, there are not ways to reward teachers that do a good job.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  290. Paul Price

    After reading many of these comments I would like for those who would end tenure to spend a month in the classroom. I have a laundry list of things that should make me quit teaching, but #1 is the ignorance of the general public. But then, there's those kids that I teach every day, and I know they are more important than opinions. Getting rid of poor teachers can and is being done on a need basis. All it takes is evaluation. Getting rid of job security will encourage good teachers to move on to greener pastures. Legislators who make laws concerning teachers should have to spend a month in the classroom. Our educational system is based on performance and numbers and until that changes, we will have problems. You cannot tell how and how much a kid learns from a number, and as long as we buy into that idea, we are simply passing on the most dangerous kind of ignorance.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  291. Steven Hackbarth

    Tenure ensures due process, following a lengthy process of credentialing, internship, tests, interviews, probation, and continuous professional development and evaluation. It may not be easy to terminate a burned out pedagogue, but there are ways administrators commonly use, e.g. unpleasant assignments and intrusive observations.
    About half the teachers leave the profession during the first five years. Youths are just as likely, or more likely, to be burned out as veterans, who have mastered their craft–curriculum, control, technique.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  292. Michael Silverstein

    Should teacher tenure be removed, many many teachers will be laid off or fired not long before retirement. New teachers are less expensive and won't need to collect pensions in the near future. Thousands of teachers (including my wife) have dedicated their lives to teaching at relatively low salaries. Here in California, teachers participate in a state run pension plan and give up any and all Social Security benefits even if they work a second job in another industry during their teaching career, prior to that career or afterward. Tenure is one of the few benefits that teachers can count on. There does need to be better and quicker ways to get rid of actual bad teachers.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  293. PAB from Packerland

    Layoffs should soley be performance based. When it is time to reduce, consistently poor performers need to go first. Last one in but WORST one out.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  294. Scott

    No...the layoff process is not the vehicle to rid your district of poor teachers. Or do you think that poor teachers are only a problem during a bad economy when layoffs are required? And if so, how do you differentiate from the poor teacher who got laid off from the good teacher that got laid off at the same time but was unfortunate to be part of the numbers game. Now you've labeled a good teacher as bad and lost them from the profession forever.

    If your district has poor teachers then the administration is not doing their job.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  295. Ryan

    I am married to a teacher and I say yes, yes, yes!! After watching Waiting For Superman my wife has even decided to leave the union.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  296. OTIS

    tenure is a tool used to equalize the past ; present and future as it relates to minorities and the racial makeup of the vast majority of school boards across the U.S.A. Remember privilege and inheritance is very much alive in the U.S.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  297. Connor

    Absolutely the tenure system should be done away with. It prevents schools from firing bad tenured teachers, many of whom don't care about effectively teaching students. It also causes schools, which are facing budget cuts, to fire young, new, and competent teachers instead of the less competent tenured teachers. Obviously not all tenured teachers are bad; however I believe the entire system of how teachers receive a tenured status should be revamped. Instead of our current system, teachers who continually teach competently should be tenured, but if their teaching performance drops for whatever reason, their tenure should be striped from them.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  298. Arlene, Illinois

    Jack, tenure should be done away with the day term limits
    start in Congress.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  299. Greg from PA

    Additionally, tenure does not keep bad teachers. Bad teachers are fired all the time. It is a misconception that tenure is a "golden ticket." Tenure protects good teachers from being fired unfairly for things like their salary

    May 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  300. Frank, Jacksonville, Florida

    Tenure should be abolished at all levels of education. At the K-12 level, tenure has spawned failing schools, teacher medicority, rubber rooms to protect incompetent or criminal activities of teachers and wasteful bureaucracy. At the college and univerity level, tenure has caused the bloating of educational budgets, outrageous waste of taxpayer money and the subjugation of students to liberal biases. The excuse for tenure is to protect the independence of teachers and professors – pure sophistry.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  301. Jeff Hastings, Howell, Michigan.

    Here's the deal, Jack:

    I've been in education twenty plus years and have learned that teaching talent is very democratic; age is simply not a factor. Generally, it takes about three years for a teacher to find their most effective groove, beyond that some teachers have it and some don't.

    The thing is, I started out in education at less than 12k annually. I then got a Masters degree and two teacher certifications and continue to attend grad classes to renew my credentials every five years. Meanwhile, I've emerged as a leader in my field. I'm also, after years of living in crummy apartments and driving rusty old cars, finally at the top of the pay scale and making a decent living.

    In budget strapped schools, do you really think would my teaching performance would make any difference if I could be replaced by a cheaper teacher? No way: I'd be out on my bum at age fifty.

    Kill tenure laws and education will become a temp job for the cheapest, least experiences and qualified, candidates possible. Do we really want that?

    Jeff Hastings
    Howell, Michigan

    May 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  302. Monique

    Yes please do away with this system! I can relate to "fresh out of college" teachers that have been constantly bumped out of their positon by someone who is tenured. There is no room for improvement on our behalf when we are kicked to the road in such a manner. A teacher that may be tenured does not necessarily mean that he or she is teaching with excellency. There has to be a way to rate teacher performance by way of student achievement!

    Monique
    Indiana

    May 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  303. Paul

    As a teacher myself, I can see how my fellow co-workers would hate me for this but I think the tenure system is indeed broken. I see my fellow educators simply not carrying anymore, not worried about what their students are doing and just pushing kids through because they need to in order to show progress.

    I just started the education field. It's hard enough to find a job with these kinds of teachers giving us new, fresh idea youth a bad name to begin with.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  304. Regina

    Dear Jack,

    I am a NYC public high school teacher with 13 years experience. The amount of hours I have put into this job is above and beyond the pay that I have actually received. I believe if tenure is voted out, it will give the city the license to play a numbers game. Why not get rid of a highly paid teacher and get three in his or her place regardless of how good a teacher he/she was. What really needs to happen is to utilize the evaluation system which is already in place to a greater extend and get rid of the lazy teaches I work with young and old alike. By the way, why doesn't anyone ever address the 800 pound gorilla in the room," Are they students doing their job?" Here is another one for you, Do you want an experienced heart surgeon working on your heart or one fresh out of med school?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  305. Proud/Poor Teacher

    I am a veteran teacher (16 years) who has a continuing contract. This means that I can be laid off/fired AFTER they lay off/fire those with limited contracts but before those with tenure. My district began requiring all its teachers to have a master's degree, so I began working towards mine last year and will finish next summer (all at my own expense to the tune of almost $9,000). Thanks to SB 5 in Ohio, there will be bigger class sizes, fewer teachers, no incentive to have a master's degree, and my pay will be tied directly to standardized test scores. I have no control over what students are placed in my class; in fact, I usually am assigned the difficult cases because of my success with challenged learners. If those students don't score high enough my pay will be affected, or worse, I can be fired. I understand why some may say tenure is a bad thing, but there are other ways of getting rid of bad teachers. Good teachers must have a way to protect themselves from being replaced by cheaper/younger teachers. I am more than just my salary. I am the years of dedication I have given and will continue to give to my students.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  306. Gerald Boyette

    Removal of Teachers Unions and Tenure insures that school boards with radical agendas can dictate what teachers can say. Political agendas and religeous beliefs could be required subjects if there is no restraint on power to hire and fire teachers.
    Pension costs could be reduced or eliminated as has been done in private industry by firing teachers before they could become vested.
    Is that the kind of society we want to be?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  307. abby, texas

    I went to a high school in which I which I could have counted number of the competent, caring, effective, knowledgeable teachers on one hand. Teachers who are ineffectual, inept, incompetent, indifferent, etc. need to be fired. On the other hand, the best teachers need to be well compensated. Tenure works well at the university level for its own reasons but is inappropriate in public schools.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  308. cherie dodds

    Teachers should be evaluated like any other person in the work force If you do your job right you will have it. If you are doing a poor job you should lose it. Now it takes almost becoming a child predator to get rid of an incompentant teacher. Worked for a school disrtrict for 18 years and saw plenty of teachers moved to admin., that should have been moved out. Great teachers deserve to be paid higher salaries. It can be done if the breaucracy is done away with.We've greated a welfare system for teachers. Cherie

    May 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  309. JB

    Absolutely, get rid of tenure. I'm a tenured high school teacher and I would give it up in a heartbeat. Some of my colleagues would say tenure is important for protection from poorly designed evaluation procedures but you know what? I'm a great teacher, and I CAN prove it. Any teacher who can't should be asked to step aside. We've got kids to teach and no time to coddle complacency.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  310. greenice

    Another thing to consider:

    If you abolish tenure, you also make the job *less* attractive for the *good* teachers (no teacher gains anything from losing job security). Thus, to attract the better teachers you will have to pay significantly more. This is particularly true for fields like math and the sciences where there is competition for talent from industry. If you want to run the schools like a business, you need to pay like a business. Are you prepared?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  311. Andrew Thall

    I just retired from teaching. Here in Texas, there is no such thing as tenure for public school teachers. In fact, it is illegal for teachers (or other public servents) to strike. Here, teacher unions have almost no power.

    I wish I knew what it was like to work under a union contract. We were never allowed to bargan.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  312. Ann

    Absolutely. Tax payers pay teacher to do a good job. Just like any other job in our society – if a job is not done well schools should have the ability to find a better replacement. This applies not only to teachers, but principals and administrators as well.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  313. conrad plonski

    Jack, tenure should be kept in place.Suppose CNN hires all new graduates for their news rooms because they are attractive and will work for a lot less,CNN may take the chance that replacing seasoned anchors won"t hurt their ratings,there goes your job Jack.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  314. steve - virginia beach

    Tenure is for folks who are afraid they couldn't survive a merit-based system. Unions are for those who can't or won't think, speak, or stand up for themselves. We don't need either.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  315. Deb

    Yes Jack, tenure should be abolished. Teacher's job security and salary should be based on their performance. For example, when my daughter was in 1st grade, her teacher was complained about by most of the parents. At first, I thought they were being unfair because she was older. Papers brought home alerted me that something was very wrong! One was marked with a frown face stamp that said "you didn't listen". Another was marked with a big red "F" on top. That paper was full of time clocks that were perfectly executed but the teacher said the short hand which my daughter drew wasn't short enough. In high school, in the same school system, my daughter had an incompetent math teacher. It took a doctor's note to have her removed to a teacher she could understand. I am tired of school systems that sweep their problems under a rug. Principals and school administration know whic teachers need to be removed. They need to do their jobs!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  316. Jerry, Florida

    Jack, in one word, NO! However, we need to be able to get rid of the ineffective (and there are oodles of them) teachers that are being coddled (protected) by the teacher unions. Our children's futures depend on it.

    As we all know, the unions will never allow for this to happen, even if it means loosing jobs for good/effective teachers.

    End of story!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  317. Jeff Hastings, Howell, Michigan.

    Here's the deal, Jack:

    I've been in education twenty plus years and have learned that teaching talent is very democratic; age is simply not a factor. Generally, it takes about three years for a teacher to find their most effective groove, beyond that some teachers have it and some don't.

    The thing is, I started out in education at less than 12k annually. I then got a Masters degree and two teacher certifications and continue to attend grad classes to renew my credentials every five years. Meanwhile, I've emerged as a leader in my field. I'm also, after years of living in crummy apartments and driving rusty old cars, finally at the top of the pay scale and making a decent living.

    In budget strapped schools, do you really think my teaching performance would make any difference if I could be replaced by a cheaper teacher? No way: I'd be out on my bum at age fifty.

    Kill tenure laws and education will become a temp job for the cheapest, least experienced and qualified, candidates possible. Do we really want that?

    Jeff Hastings
    Howell, Michigan

    May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  318. Bud

    I am a public school teacher and have thoughts on tenure, both good and bad. Yes, there are poor teachers out there, as they are in any profession...think of your coworkers, anyone a poor performer? Ask any self resprecting teacher and most would agree the ones who are miserable at their jobs should go. On the other hand, how do we evaluate who is a good teacher and who is not?
    Test scores: Who writes the test? If it is a teacher desperate to feed his/her family, there could be the temptation to make the test easier. If its the state, I've seen first hand average class scores vary widely from year to year- it's too inconsistent.
    Administrator evaluation – If the teacher has a "personality conflict" with a vindictive administrator, regardless of teacher effectiveness, watch out. Ask Martin Floe at Ingraham High School in Seattle.
    Student/Parent Opinion: Being well liked by students and parents doesn't necessarily equate to effectiveness. If I caved every time a student or parent complained I'd be well liked, command no respect and be very ineffective.
    Outside Influences: Parents who are uninvolved with the student usually inspire very little academic achievement. Socio-economic status is proven to impact a child's education. Lack of school resources – district's (even in good times) work with thin budgets making updated educational materials nearly impossible to obtain. These are influences that for the most part impact student performance in the classroom, yet the teacher can do very little about.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  319. Dan from Redondo Beach, CA

    Jack, I do believe in performance based recognition on the job, and not tenure. No profession in my mind deserves to have the ability to bypass performance as the ruler for employment and promotion. I do feel it is in the interest of each USA worker to reside in a performance based environment for the betterment of that worker, the company (school) and and our country. Tenure just seems to protect the teacher not keeping up with the results necessary. If I don't turn in the results, I would be fired....that being said, I think teachers turning in the results should be paid $125K also.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  320. Michael Clifford

    Tenure was originally instituted to protect freedom of inquiry–remember the Scopes Trials? As a college professor with tenure, who has served on numerous tenure and hiring committees, I can say without qualification that tenure is not a mechanism for retaining "dead wood." On the contrary, earning tenure is an arduous process, six years of jumping through hoops to prove that you are worthy of permanent employment. Teachers with tenure earned it , and continue to do so everyday. The percentage of inactive teachers is miniscule. Besides that, eliminating tenure is dangerous for us all–we risk hiring teachers whose political and/or religious beliefs reflect those of the administration and the community, or who question those beliefs at their peril.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  321. Steven Hackbarth

    The grounds for using seniority have time-tested validity, yet the judgment of administrators and student test scores also have merit.
    New York City Teacher

    May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  322. Mary Hinkley

    If you think that teachers graduate from school knowing how to teach, then you would think that it was a good thing to fire all experienced teachers and replace them with folks who would cost the system less and do as good a job. Well, teachers don't learn what the real world is like until they get into the classroom. That's where they learn how to do their job and it is often the result of the mentoring of those experienced teachers that makes the difference. Anyone who thinks anyone can teach should spend a day with a room full of 1st graders.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  323. Mike - from Michigan

    I agree with Lisa P. Tenure only gives you the right to have your case heard by a board, with legal representation. If a teacher is not performing, the administration can document the lack of performance, and a teacher can be dismissed. The problem is not with tenure, it is with the administration not doing their job. Also, tenure can be political, particularly at the university level.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  324. Rusty

    The system is so flawed. I continue to hear the words "bad" vs. "good" teachers. Just ridiculous! The reason the union exists is because good and bad are such subjective terms and a teacher can be gone at the discretion/view of an administrator who is 100 times more incompetent than the teacher. In addition, every teacher knows that tenure has nothing to do with how long a teacher can stay in the system. It has everything to do with whose rear end you kiss to keep your job! The word fair comes to mind but fairness is only measured by ones perception of what is fair. We all know that seniors are not treated fairly, How about getting rid of the some of the administrators who have worked to get to the positions where they tell the teachers what to do! They are the reasons the schools are failing because each one wants to further their career and do nothing to improve the educational system. In other words, there are too many chiefs and they all blame the teachers because they do not want the focus on them. Get rid of all these highly paid incompetent superintendents, assistant superintendents, assistant to the assistant superintendent, assistant to the assistant to the assistant superintendent -–you get my point!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  325. Sid Hill, Starkville, Mississippi

    I don't know how in works in every school system nationwide, but in universities, tenure does NOT mean that you can't be fired. To fire a tenured prof, you just have to prove malfeasance or non-performance. Would that not work in the public schools? Although tenure can be abused, it does serve some useful purposes. However, when tenure is coupled with across-the-board raises, the system doesn't work. Require all raises to be merit, based on annual performance evaluations carried out by principals and reviewed by superintendents. Couple that with RIF policies governed by "lowest performing/first out" and I think you would solve a lot of the problems people have mentioned in these comments.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  326. Joe Murf

    What % of teachers employed in a School District are in the class room teaching?

    Less than 60%?
    That's a starting point.

    Joe
    PA

    May 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  327. Kay

    Let's see Jack. NO! These teachers do not get social security and the wages are low to start. I have had new teachers fresh out of school and older teacher with 20 years plus. I will take the older teacher every time, they know how to teach. Why don't you just take away the cell phones, face book and twitter from these kids and tell them to do their homework. It is about time we stop demonizing the teachers. It takes everyone, parents and kids, to get serious about learning.

    Kay Ejma
    Montgomery, IL

    May 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  328. Brian

    Teacher tenure, as a majority of people assume, does not keep an incompetent teacher from losing his/her job. It basically ensures that he/she will not be fired without just cause and due process. It is up to school administrators to compile evidence of incompetence and use the evidence to dismiss that teacher. It is actually much easier to do than people think.

    Please realize the true reason some legislators–most of whom are Republicans–would like to allow districts to cut the more veteran teachers, they cost more! If laws allowing such measures are enacted, we open up a new issue, age discrimination.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  329. Sue

    The time to eliminate tenure is long past. I know far too many teachers who are so burned out that they are hanging in there simply to get to retirement age. What a disservice we are doing to our children.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  330. Nate

    As long as universities are allowed to retain tenure, I'm all for it.

    Tenure is the only thing that keeps bright, dedicated people in otherwise miserable, low paying jobs.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  331. Al Beauchamp

    Jack,

    I am an Instructor, non-tenure track, for a public university in Ohio. Yes, there are some tenured professors who abuse the system by providing stale instruction. Yet, there are also non-tenured professors who abuse the system by doing less because they are not required to do more. The inherent nature of a university is to explore. Exploring is a costly endeavor. Lots of searching little discovering. If you want to reduce the cost in higher education, reduce the size of universities and create more specialized institutions where the dollars can be used in a more targeted fashion.

    Thanks

    May 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  332. jn3792

    This much seems clear –

    1. Teacher pay needs to be increased.
    2. Tenure needs to go away

    Why? You attract sorely needed talent when you offer appropriate compensation and you greatly reduce the tempation to shirk when you remove tenure. Will this cost more? I don't know. Maybe. But it is worth it, don't you think?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  333. Craig

    This is pretty simple. Of course, when dealing with unions nothing is simple unless you can get it into the contract. Here's the deal.

    If you have a tree in your yard, and it's in bad shape, the solution is probably to prune it. So...what branches do you prune?

    Do you remove the young, vibrant, strong branches that help the tree continue?

    Do you prune the nearly dead branches that are only sucking life from the rest of the tree?

    Do you look for branches that still meet the needs of the tree, or do you automatically cut off all the new growth, leaving the tree stuck with just old, tired branches that have created a miss-shaped mess?

    Do you look at the tree as a whole and try to decide which branches hold the most promise for the future?

    If you can answer these questions, then you know what to do. The same is true for "tenure." As a management school lecturer once told me: Seniority is the best system yet invented to tell how long someone has worked for you. Other than that, it doesn't mean cr&%

    May 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  334. James White

    Teachers who earn tenure should have some protection, unless they do something that would harm a student. Having tenure means you have paid your dues and you know that your job is relatively safe. I don't have a problem with that.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  335. Paul in Dallas

    Getting rid of the bad teachers needs to be the objective not replacing tenured teachers with cheap teachers, fresh from college.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  336. Rick Rivard

    Tenure is grossly misunderstood even by some of those having to deal with it.
    1) With proper documentation schools can fire anyone who is not doing the job.
    2) Beginning teachers have "fresh" ideas that often are impractical.
    3) Most beginning teachers spend the first two years terrified- hence the mentoring programs most good schools have.
    4) "Dead wood" teachers are more uncommon than anecdotes would lead people to believe.
    5) The average 'tenure' of a teacher is about 3.5 years. They leave because of poor pay, lack of support, and stress.The tenure laws were made to encourage people to stay in a high stress job.

    You want to belly ache about something try 'No Child Left Untested'.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  337. Brian Wickremasinghe-Woodland Hills, CA

    "Tenure" should not be made use of by incompetent teachers to hang on to jobs, get paid by the tax dollars and be a burden on society. At the same time they should have peace of mind to perform a job without being subjected to vindictive action by those above them. There fore "Tenure" should be done away with, but a recorded trail must be maintained to get rid of those unable to produce results.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  338. Melissa Olander

    No, teacher tenure should not be done away with. The attack on public educators must stop. My observation as a parent is that the older teachers my children have had are hard working, motivated, and energetic. In addition, their classroom management skills are much better than a first year teacher. Many misinformed critics tend to remember the one bad teacher they've encountered instead of the numerous teachers that are exceptional. I believe getting rid of teacher tenure will result in school districts laying off experienced teachers and replacing them with new teachers at a lower starting salaries to save money due to budget constraints. Perhaps teacher tenure should be reexamined but it definitely should NOT be done away with.

    Melissa Olander
    Madison, WI

    May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  339. Stephanie Bonnivier

    Teachers are first hired based on qualifications, then observed and scrutinized for three years. Tenure just doesn't happen. The process continues. Many don't make the grade along the way. Please stop blaming teachers for all the problems. Try it. It's a tough job and most teach because they want to make a difference, not a pension. If you can read this, thank a teacher.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  340. Corey

    I have been married to a teacher of 12 years, and the answer is yes. Even she thinks so. But don't be mistaken into thinking that this will solve any problems. It still requires that administrators will take the iniatative to fire someone. They have so many other things on their plate, that often times they pick their battles. Letting a poorly performing non problematic teacher go causing them to add a hiring process and training process to their day is not likely.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  341. Dan

    I don't necessarily have an answer to the tenure question.

    What I do believe is that everything you take away from teachers, who are already paid very little to do a very important and difficult job, is one less thing to attract good people to the job. Our education system is dismal. Our solution seems to be to make teaching a less and less rewarding career. We should be doing the opposite.

    We live in a meritocracy. If you want good people to do good work, you have to pay them. Period. Take away tenure. That's fine. But let's include some carrots in our solution to education; that's the American way.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  342. Chris

    Jack,

    There is something to be said for being kept in your workplace because you've done a good job. That's the meritocracy that every business uses when it hires and fires people. That being said, we shouldn't shield our educational administrators from this powerful sword. Tenure, while providing a level of job security that is much envied in today's society, mostly allows teachers with poor performance to keep their job solely based on the fact that they've had the job for a long while. This is illogical at its base, and hinders the progression of our nation through the learning of our future leaders.

    Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana has introduced a merit based teacher wage scale, and we have yet to see how it will turn out. I have no doubts however, that the school rating in Indiana will increase greatly over the next few years, as ALL teachers will have to work their hardest to keep their jobs. That's the point, right? Work hard to keep your job, not work long to keep your job.

    Chris
    Los Angeles, CA

    May 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  343. Down w/ Teacher's Unions...

    I guess "last one in, first one out" to unions really means "last one in, least amount of dues paid", so they don't deserve to be protected...

    May 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  344. Regina

    Dear Jack,

    I am a NYC public high school teacher with 13 years experience. The amount of hours I have put into this job is above and beyond the pay that I have actually received. I believe if tenure is voted out, it will give the city the license to play a numbers game. Why not get rid of a highly paid teacher and get three in his or her place regardless of how good a teacher he/she was. What really needs to happen is to utilize the evaluation system which is already in place to a greater extend and get rid of the lazy teachers I work with young and old alike. By the way, why doesn't anyone ever address the 800 pound gorilla in the room," Are the students doing their job?" Here is another one for you, Do you want an experienced heart surgeon working on your heart or one fresh out of med school?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  345. Larry of Boston

    Do away with tenure; do away with unions; and put in term limits for Congress. These three groups are taking us deeper and deeper into financial oblivion. Time for everyone to play by the same rules.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  346. Sheri

    Like other public sector workers, teachers take a cut in pay in exchange for job security. Abolishing tenure logically could amount to teachers in the near future earning minimum wage with no benefits. And this is what a large swath of Americans clamor for. I'd never renounce my citizenship, but the possibility of retiring overseas and paying taxes into a foreign country that values public education becomes more appealing to me with each passing year.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  347. Don

    No one should be guanteed a job. Not the president, not the janitor, not the teacher. No tenure for teachers if not tenure for everyone.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  348. Jeremy

    I'm marrying a teacher too, and I hope they do away with Tenure. I know my fiance is and will be an amazing teacher. I have no worries that she will be able to keep her job. However, I know several "going through the motion" teachers who are only waiting for their pensions. In fact, I've noticed this most with Coaches. The high school I went to had half a dozen coaches who allowed cheating on papers and tests and knew about it. Why? They simply didn't care. I know two by name (who I had as teachers) that allowed Seniors to pass the class with an A, who failed more tests than passed. Teachers like that should be fired to make way for new, ambitious teachers who would hold students accountable for their own grades and help improve the system. I have no sympathy for teachers who can't/won't do their job to the best of their ability. It's time for a change.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  349. John O'Connor

    You're confusing seniority with tenure, Jack. Tenure is there to protect you from the mayor who wants to give his nephew a job, or from the board of education which leans to the left, while you have your class reading Adam Smith. Tenure includes a process by which teachers can be fired for violation of contract or neglect of duty. And as far as making way for the new young teachers, well you're romanticizing the image of those young idealists who must work hard and take a beating from parents, students, and administrators in a years long seasoning process. Keep tenure. Ask about seniority tomorrow.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  350. William

    Despite what people believe, tenure is an important asset–perhaps even more so in today's political climate. When it occurs, good scholarship needs protection since it is the job of university faculty to tell us what we typically don't want to hear–e.g., that the historical Jesus has little to do with the character written about in the bible and preached in churches everywhere. Without the protection that tenure affords, work on topics like the historical Jesus would be a quick ticket to the unemployment line.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  351. Charlie

    Tenure is one of the things that attracts talent to education. There is a lot of talk about how teachers are overpaid and teachers get summers off, and any number of other negative (and mostly false) impressions about the profession of educating. At the end of the day tenure is not the issue, the issue is how to deal with ineffective educators. Administrators do have tools at their disposal to deal with teachers who just don't get the job done, while maybe the process could be simplified, there is a process and fixing the REAL issue requires more determined administration of that process, not attacking teachers. How many other professions require 80 hour 7 day work weeks, a masters degree, only pay $40k, and still are able to attract talented and enthusiastic candidates?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  352. shellbe

    You can have teacher tenure and have a system in place that removes poor teachers. MCPS in Maryland has just that system. If a teacher is not meeting standard, support is given, and if that teacher continues to not meet standards, they are removed.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  353. CW

    There are a lot of low paying jobs that do not have tenure rules or last in first out rules. No one should be guaranteed a job based on the length of time. Perhaps a compromise of length of service and quality reviews, whereby your length of service can enhance your review up to a certain point. Think of veterans' preference in the postal service.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  354. Wes

    I understand tenure for college professors because they are conducting research and trying to participate in academic discussions that might be controversial or unpopular and you would need to protect them. However, elementary, middle school, and high school teachers are supposed to be providing a basic educational base. I don't understan why we should protect them from job termination?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  355. Robert

    If teachers want to be treated like professionals, then they should have a professional organization that allows peer review. I am shocked daily by the outright fraud and malpractice committed by some teachers on my staff. I report the bad behavior and provide evidence to administrators, but nothing changes. I–and the students–must suffer teachers who give an "A" to an essay when the first line of which is, "In Huck Finn Antonio decides..." and pass homework on Macbeth that indicates that there are werewolves in the play and that "Scotty" (also known as "Scotland") is an actual character in the play.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  356. Chris

    The teachers are the only profession where their jobs are guaranteed. It is next to impossible to get rid of the bad teachers. Even the President of the united States is not guaranteed his job. Our students are falling further and further behind other countries including Third world countries. Why should our children suffer because our school systems cannot get rid of the worthless teachers . They give the good teachers a bad rap. Give us a break!!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  357. Kevin

    As much as this issue may sound great on the surface, but people should know that this is part of a greater campaign that has been launched by various conservative groups to push for complete privatization of public schools.

    People need to know that the public school system may not be perfect, but it is basically free! if we fall for this trap and allow these pro-corporate conservative groups, like Koch Brothers to privatize our public schools, then the consequences will be devastating for average Americans! Getting a decent education will cost far beyond what most Americans will be able to afford.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  358. Robert

    No. Most districts have a system to replace incompetent teachers, though it requires administrators to document and first attempt to change the teacher. Teachers across the nations are leaving due to poor pay, over crowding, pressure over test results, reductions in pensions, etc. Do we want the brightest and best leaving education?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  359. Keith

    Everyone is really quick to blame teachers, when they are only a portion of the equation. Lack of discipline by administrators. Lack of involvement by parents. Teachers are the front line and it seems like they're being shot in the back by those that are supposed to support them. Yes there are a few bad teachers, but they are few and far between. I'm reminded of a button I saw recently – "Those that can, teach. Those who cannot pass laws about teaching.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  360. Jason

    It should be a combination of performance and seniority that determines who keeps their job versus who loses their job. If two teachers have equal performance measurements, the one who has seniority should keep their job. However, if a less experienced teacher has a better performance record over a "tenured" teacher, then that "tenured" teacher should be the one to go. Don't we want the best teachers guiding our kids?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  361. James

    The primary benefit of the tenure process, at least to those who aren't enjoying the job security, is that our teachers are free to say and teach whatever they want without fear of being fired for their beliefs or teaching methods. Admittedly, I'm no teacher, but from my understanding of the current system, so much of the grade school curriculum is defined by the district or government regulation that there is very little room for material controversial enough to warrant discriminatory firing. In this sense, the benefit of the tenure system, at least at the grade school level, is greatly diminished and no longer balances out the obvious detriment – the protection of "unfit" teachers. In the University system there is more wiggle-room in the curriculum and, while even that system could use some substantial overhauls, there is still an obvious need for protection. In grade school however, I'd say we could do without it.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  362. lindsayesq

    Yes, tax recipients should have no greater rights, no greater benefits and no greater retirement than their taxpayer employers. It is matter of fairness.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  363. Monica

    Yes. Retention and advancement should be merit-based, just as in any other profession.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  364. Steve in Alabama

    Tenure is essential for good teaching plain and simple. It is essentail because it provides teachers protection from administrators, school boards, and parents who want to influence what is taught, how it is taught and the grades students' receive. Teachers are trained to make these calls with the best interests of all children at heart–the only group in the community with this sole purpose in mind. All of you who cry about the deadwood tenure protects have little evidence to support these claims nor has anyone been able to show that the field of teaching produces more deadwood because of tenure. If you believe this you have been sold a bill of goods. Further, for those of you who what education to be run like a business–are you going to pay teachers what they are worth!!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  365. Barb in Pennsylvania

    Why should teachers be afforded the protection of tenure when few in the private sector have such a luxury? What other industry tells its employees, "Do a great job for X number of years and you'll have job security for life"? Even as a degreed professional the only job security I have comes from doing my job and doing it well, every single day. I have seen far too many instances of teachers nearing retirement who stop teaching, leaving students to fend for themselves. Our children deserve better. Perhaps eliminating tenure will ensure that those who enter the professional really have a passion for teaching and aren't simply looking for an easy life.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  366. BD70

    No do not remove tenure. All it will do is provide a reason for the Superintendent and board members to do away easily with experienced teachers keep the young ones and pay less. Taxes won't go down either. Teachers need protection...especially the good experienced ones from lay offs if they have attained a good salary.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  367. Joanne

    As a teacher, I agree 100% with getting rid of tenure. My job is on the line right now due to this. I've seen teachers who just want a paycheck and have tenure. I give my students 100% and have been working in public schools for over 25 years in various positions until I went to college and earned my credentials. I love teaching and it breaks my heart to see teachers being kept because of years of service. Just because you have tenure, doesn't make you the best either!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  368. Jack

    This is laughable!

    Of course they should do away with tenure. But first they should do away with the impllied tenure of all politicians! Anybody else laughing at politicians doing away with tenure? Maybe they should clean up their own profession first – that would be true leadership!

    CA.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  369. jim

    Everyone keeps on saying to hold teachers accountable, it's a pretty hard task to take on. I think a clear cut reason that majority of schools are having problems is because of this self-righteous entitlement everyone thinks they are owed. When you handcuff administration and teachers and give all the power to parents who at the drop of the hat will file a lawsuit. What ever happened to working hard to overcome adversity.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  370. Jeff in Michigan.

    Well let's see: I was a little green, but still a promising teacher back in the eighties when I started in education at 12k a year. I was a better teacher ten years later after picking up a masters degree and working my way up to 30k a year. I was even better after earning a second certification and slowly stepping up to a comfortable salary, Now, at the top of the pay scale, I continue to attend grad school, have become a professional leader, and get better all the time.

    Without tenure, none of that would matter. My cash-strapped Michigan district would ditch me in a heartbeat for that green, cheap twenty-something I once was.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  371. Marc

    I taught in a public school district (600+ teachers) for 20 years, and in all that time ONE teacher was fired. He sued, with union support, and got his job back. Can you think of any other organization in which nobody ever gets fired?

    I'm a firm believer in due process for all, but it is simply too difficult to terminate incompetent teachers. A person who does his/job reasonably well doesn't need tenure. It only protects the incompetent.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  372. Seattle Suburbs

    Jack,

    I believe that many teachers are dramatically underpaid, so that the terrible teachers can be protected under tenure laws.

    Tenure originated in higher education in order to protect professors from persecution for introducing thought-provoking material (like evolution, for example). It was never intended to protect elementary and secondary teachers, who are held to a standard of community values.

    I say we should increase pay for the really good teachers out there, and get rid of the dead weight simply being kept on because it's too expensive to fire them.

    Great teachers are worth their weight in gold. Teachers should be respected and remunerated for the very important work they do. If we paid teachers according to their worth, instead of according to a union contract, our educational system would produce kids who can read, write, think, and who are ready for the rigors of higher education. Right now, far too many of our schools are failing to meet that achievement level.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  373. David Whitman

    Tenure needs be be retained as it insures that we keep our best gualifed people. Yes some of our older teachers should be let go and tenure does not mean that they have a job for life. Tenure just means that if there is a layoff the junior people are laid off first.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  374. Glad to be done with the politics

    None of this is being debated to improve education, it is all about not wanting to pay for quality education and lowering tax rates and politicians wanting to pander to business and hope to get re-elected. There is no reason to teach today, you are not helping kids, you are not being compensated well for you education, and you are a scape goat for societies failings. Be smart don't teach!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  375. Matt

    You all realize that teachers can be fired even if they have tenure.. The process takes a little longer than a nontenured teacher, but it can be done.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  376. Gary Bonner, Lake in the Hill, IL

    Jack,

    Teaching is a thankless, grueling, tough job. Parents always think their little darlings are angels, never tell the little weasels "no," give them everything they want, refuse to teach them good maners at home and then send them to school and blame the teachers for thier lack-luster performance. Take away tenure, and explain to me what incentives would one have to take such a grueling and thankless job?

    I venture to say, that most teachers are better educated and better equipped today than they were 50 – 60 years ago. I also venture to say that most children are not nearly as disciplined, respectful and responsibility-oriented as they were 50 – 60 years ago.

    Keep tenure. Bring back parental responsibility!

    Gary Bonner, Lake in the Hills, IL

    May 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  377. Mat

    Have you ever had the cable guy come to your house to fix something or install something? Ever notice how they're all relatively new to the company or young? This is because after x many years of being a cable repairman, they get let go. It's cheaper to get a new kid paid at the bottom of your pay scale in there than it is to keep giving veterans the raises they deserve for being experienced and good at their jobs. I had a buddy that worked for the local cable company and was their 2nd most experienced field technician... at 5 years of service. They fired him.

    The learning environment is the same as the teaching environment. Do you want them to fire teachers as soon as they get experienced enough to get good at it (and a bit more expensive to the school to keep) or do you want the experienced teachers to stay so kids can benefit from their wisdom? Teaching isn't all that different from other professions: there is a lot of on-the-job training. A teacher that's been around a long time is a very valuable resource. Sure, that 45 year old might not have as much energy as the 23 year old, but they have years of experience and can be a great mentor to the new teachers. Tenure is not a bullet-proof vest for teachers and I think we will rue the day when the most experienced teacher in any school has 5 years of experience. All of the assaults on teachers and unions and tenure are doing is driving away people who feel a calling to teach. Please knock it off, for all our sakes.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  378. Pete

    Jack, What is the basis for deciding effective teaching? Standardized tests? Parents are now complaining about "high stakes" testing causing excessive stress on kids. Unlike industry, teachers have no real bottom line. We discover our success or failure only after the students are successful in college or in the work force. It takes 4-10 years to determine how effective a teacher really is. Bad teachers are obvious, and can be terminated under tenure. Tenure is not a guarantee, it is just due process. It does require effective administrators to do that, and too many administrators are political choices. Tell me, which part of the system is broken?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  379. Dee

    Tenure needs to be done away with – there is NO profession that deserves guaranteed employment forever. The original concept was to protect teachers from biased, "back lash" actions by principals and administrators against teachers who are whistle blowers. Teachers can behave a certain way before their tenure is awarded, to assure they get it. Those behaviors change after tenure, because they can. The cost of trying to remove bad teachers who have already been given tenure is exhorbitant and takes, literally, years. Teachers deserve protection from discrimination – and they have it, just like everyone else without tenure does.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  380. Chad

    Jack,

    Until people wake up and realize that teachers aren't employees in a business these problems will never end. When the starting pay for a teacher is so low, why would any district ever keep teachers into their 40s when they would cost 3x as much? Unlike in a "normal" business where experienced employees can point to a measurable increase in profit that makes up for their pay, the education system doesn't turn a profit. Imagine the impact of millions of unemployed 30-50 year old's with no job prospects in their own profession and tell me whether or not tenure is worth it.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  381. tom

    Since the 80's we have systematically shifted from a producing nation to a consuming one. We are now the consumer engine of the world. Do we need educated consumers? I think not. Do we need educated voters? Ditto. Do we really need to keep experienced teachers at higher salaries when less expensive ones can be hired right out of school? I don't think so.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  382. Brad, Portland, OR

    You don't think there's politics, favoritism, and unfairness in private industry? You don't think people get mistreated by their bosses?

    We don't have any special protections. We just deal with it.

    And teachers should, too.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  383. pnyrpbcan

    Yes TENURE should go. We have fresh talented teachers that are willing to be employed at a much lower cost. You also wont have TENURED teachers losing skills with complacency because of the benefit. Everyone will always get checked, ready to get replaced in case complacency sets in. Tenure also is like the Admirals Club lounge in the airport. If you dont have the miles, then you dont get to have your foot in.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  384. Chris

    As a teacher I have no problem getting rid of tenure. I'm over 60 years old (teaching is my second career) and bust my butt everyday to ensure my students get the best education possible. And yes the republicans want to do away with public education and go to all private schools. Problem is not enough profit in education for the greed these guys want to enrich themselves. Every starte in the union has reduce education spending over the last 20 years, and see the results we have gotten. More ignorant people who lack logic and rational thinking skills. Facts are to be ignored. Why do you think so many people are "ditto heads" Can't think for themselves. Just believe what politicans say. Believe the party line and goose step into history!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  385. zhongxin

    As a retired, tenured, public school teacher (1971-1996), I feel qualified to comment on public school issues. Those persons who have never taught in public schools before should experience at least one year teaching in a public school before they make any statements on the issue of teacher tenure, especially of how to teach public school students. Rather than question teacher tenure, why not find out any flaws in teacher training courses that prepare potential teachers for their positions in our schools.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  386. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The design of our education system is tenured and needs to be revamped and not the teachers.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  387. jim cobb

    Both of my children had problems with tenured teachers.I believe doing away with tenured,would be great for the educating of our school kids.I know of numerous parents that had problems with tenured teachers.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  388. unowhoitsme

    Excellent teachers don't need tenure. It's been a system that has allowed "bad" teachers to "put in their time" until retirement, and the results are "killing" our kids academically.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  389. Tom harrison

    Job performance should not be tied to how long you have worked. Teachers like everyone else should be evaluated each year on how they performed at the job. That is credible use if applied fairly to keep that teacher teaching. It is hard to become complacent when your work is under constant scrutiny.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  390. Greg in Illinois

    My wife is a great teacher and her kids get great test scores. She has now taught for 25 years, has a Masters Degree and a husband and 3 children covered by heath care. It also makes her one of the most expensive teachers. With tenure gone at her school district, it only takes 90 days to terminate a teacher with no appeal process. The fear is that this will be used to keep costs down rather than get rid of bad teachers.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  391. Brandon

    Jack, I work an "at will" sales job for a fortune 500 company. My company has a system in place to move underperforming employees out and make room for those that are hungry to suceed. This seems to keep everyone working their hardest and looking for new and better ways to do things.......There is absolutely no sense of entitlement here.

    I do not see why this would not work in public education. Our kids deserve teachers who will take ownership of their sucess and work through ALL CHALLENGES that stand in the way of educating them.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  392. Robert from Minnesota

    You have not correctly defined tenure. Tenure means that teachers must receive due process and be fired for cause unlike probationary teachers who can be fired for no reason. A tenured teacher can be fired for poor performance and other factors. Tenured teachers are evaulated on a cycle by administrators. In most states a teacher is on probation for the first three years of employment and is granted tenure after successfully completing the requirements for tenure during those three years. The administrator is the one who observes the probationary teacher during the three years and decides if the teacher will be granted tenure. Teachers must renew their teaching licenses every five years by taking graduate level education courses. It is acknowledged in the teaching profession that it takes five years to reach a point where you are an effective teacher; it takes a lot of time and effort. A lot of teachers leave the profession during the first three years because the job is so difficult, as in too many kids in a classroom, too few educational supplies – books, lab equipment, computers, etc., and not enough support. If you think teaching is an easy way to earn big bucks give it a try. If you care about kids volunteer in your public schools, especially the neediest schools. It is so easy to stand on the outside and throw stones. Put your time and effort where your mouth is and make a difference in kids' lives. Teach.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm |