Education Opinion

Eliminating Teacher Tenure in Minnesota Is Ironic

By Walt Gardner — December 22, 2014 1 min read
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“No good deed goes unpunished” is an apt expression for what could happen in Minnesota (“Will the Gopher State Go Tenure Free?” EduShyster, Dec. 1). Known for the impressive performance of its students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the state would seem to be the last place that needs to eliminate tenure for teachers.

Yet that is a distinct possibility, as the trip to the Gopher State by Marcellus McRae, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the Vergara v. State of California case, portends. If teachers are doing such a good job there, it’s hard to understand why McRae and his ilk would want to bother to get involved in a legal battle. Principals in Minnesota already have the power to hire whomever they want. Moreover, rural parts of the state can’t find enough teachers to fill their classrooms. So what is the reason for the interest?

I wrote before in this column that the real motivation in California had little to do with making it easier to get rid of ineffective teachers. That argument was a smokescreen. The objective was to break the power of teachers’ unions in the nation’s largest state in order to set an example, in the same way that former President Ronald Reagan fired airline controllers to send the message that public employees’ unions were on notice.

Whatever credibility the Vergara team’s argument enjoyed among voters should be called into question now that Minnesota is in its crosshairs. There is no need to eliminate tenure there in light of the state’s track record. A lawsuit would be merely a power play.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.