Recruitment & Retention

UPDATED: Colo., La. Politicians Now Pushing Tenure Reform

By Stephen Sawchuk — April 06, 2010 1 min read
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By now, I hope you’ve read my story wrapping up some of the action in Ohio, Delaware, Florida and Maryland to overhaul the system broadly known as tenure. The actual terms differ from place to place, but winning tenure generally means that teachers are granted due-process protections that require extensive documentation of poor performance before they can be dismissed.

At the end of the story, I noted that it’s unclear whether other states will follow their lead. As it turns out, just this week we’ve seen some additional movement in Colorado and Louisiana.

In Colorado, state Sen. Michael Johnston, a Democrat, plans to introduce a bill that would require teachers to be deemed “effective” in three evaluations before receiving tenure. Growth in student test scores would be a significant part of the system, according to this Denver Post story.

It’s hard to know what the chances of this measure passing are, especially since it looks like it will take on other hot-button issues like forced teacher placements. But if it did pass, it would presumably supercede the governor’s council—created as part of the state’s Race to the Top bid—that is supposed to hash out the Centennial State’s strategy for teacher evaluation and promoting teacher effectiveness.

Tenure reform can, arguably, be divided into two specific kinds of fixes. On the one hand is the proposal to raise the bar, as I focused on in my recent story, so that only teachers who are effective clear that bar.

On the other hand are reforms to due process itself, so that it’s less time consuming to dismiss chronically ineffective teachers with tenure. That seems to be the focus of the bill supported by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican.

I didn’t focus on dismissal in my EdWeek story, but several of the states are looking at it. Delaware code allows teachers with tenure to be dismissed if there is a “pattern of ineffectiveness,” usually 2-3 years of ineffective ratings on the state evaluation instrument. Johnston’s bill, in Colorado, would also contain a similar provision.

Am I missing any other proposals out there? Write in and tell me.

UPDATED: Ed News Colorado has more information on the Johnston bill, including about how it’ll mesh with Gov. Bill Ritter’s Educator Effectiveness Council.

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