Recruitment & Retention

Is the Tenure Conversation Changing?

By Stephen Sawchuk — February 19, 2009 1 min read

The always thoughtful Sherman Dorn thinks I jumped the gun in this post. I disagree.

Although the examples I point to are proposals and may not amount to anything concrete (and they certainly wouldn’t be the first), the bigger picture is that the conversation about tenure does seem to be changing. Why? Well, districts and unions in particular are under pressure to rethink how teachers are paid, developed, and managed. Tenure falls under the last category.

Secondly, Dorn goes on to write:

“In collective bargaining agreements, there are provisions for gathering evidence that a teacher has problems in the classroom, putting the teacher in a corrective or probationary status, providing support, and then firing the teacher.”

Those provision do indeed exist but, on the other hand most districts don’t really have good measures or evaluations in place to give them any real meaning.

I could very well be wrong, but I suspect that in Ohio and D.C. at least, the issue isn’t really going to be about “getting rid” of tenure, but about setting clear performance-based standards for granting it.

Bottom line: Although we don’t have much data on whether tenure helps or hurts teacher effectiveness, I expect people to start researching it and I expect the debates on it to intensify.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.