Education Letter to the Editor

Consider the Other Side of Teacher-Tenure ‘Coin’

May 17, 2011 1 min read

To the Editor:

Only one-half of the picture was displayed in “Now Is the Time to Redefine Teacher Tenure,” (April 27, 2011). It’s true that many states are strengthening standards and pathways to teacher tenure, but that’s only one side of the coin. On the other end of the tenure scale are the due process protections that differentiate tenured teachers from probationary ones.

Some states are strengthening standards and pathways while reducing due process at the same time. Oklahoma, for example, is linking teacher tenure directly to multiyear student improvement, while also increasing the statutory grounds for terminating a tenured teacher, and simultaneously removing certain protections, leaving the final dismissal decision solely in the hands of the local school board.

Striking the right balance between attaining tenure and defining the due process protections afforded tenured teachers is a delicate but necessary process. As teachers participate in more rigorous pathways to tenure, they and their unions look toward the horizon to see if the due process protections are worth the effort. If not, exiting the profession may be the result. Trading the salary differential from the private sector for public-sector job security has traditionally been a worthwhile swap. Will that continue to be a fringe benefit of teaching as the road to tenure is strengthened and due process is weakened?

Michael Barlow

Founding Member

Barlow Education Management Services, LLC

Oklahoma City, Okla.

A version of this article appeared in the May 18, 2011 edition of Education Week as Consider the Other Side Of Teacher-Tenure ‘Coin’