Nearly 50 Denver teachers will lose tenure status due to two consecutive years of poor ratings on the district’s teacher evaluation system. These teachers now have the same job protections as a first year, non-tenured teacher, who work on year-to-year contracts.
The district can now fire these teachers for pretty much any reason. (Tenured teachers can only be fired for specific reasons, like immorality or insubordination.)
To put those 47 educators into perspective, they represent just about 2 percent of Denver’s tenured teaching force, reports Chalkbeat Colorado. But Pam Shamburg, president of Denver’s teachers’ union, told the news website, that that figure belies a much more pervasive shift in culture.
“This happening to 47 teachers has a much bigger impact,” Shamburg told Chalkbeat. “There will be hundreds of teachers who know about this. They’ll say if they can do that to (that teacher), they can do that to me.”
Back in 2010, Colorado was part of a wave of states that reformed their teacher tenure systems in response to the allure of federal dollars under Race to the Top. Competitive grants were given to states that passed laws that held teachers accountable for their students’ test scores.
In addition to enabling districts to strip teachers of tenure due to poor evaluations, Colorado’s educator effectiveness law requires that districts draw up an evaluation system where growth in students achievement accounts for at least 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. Additionally, new teachers must now earn three consecutive years of effective ratings to get tenure status. Before the 2010 law, tenure status was automatically granted after three years of teaching.
Chalkbeat reports that of those 47 teachers, 60 percent had been in the classroom for more than 15 years, while 21 percent had more than 20 years of experience. Additionally, they found that nonwhite teachers were disproportionally affected. On the other hand, teachers working in the city’s worst performing schools were less likely, on the whole, to lose tenure. The entire story can be found here.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.