Opinion
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor

Teacher-Tenure Essay Draws Passionate Response

April 14, 2015 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

David Finley’s Commentary argues that when determining teacher-tenure decisions, “two years is more than ample time for a principal to reach this conclusion.” Really?

Tenure influences the future academic achievement and growth of hundreds of students, often over several decades, since most teachers receiving tenure will remain in their districts for two decades or more. Such decisions translate into placing supreme confidence in the fact that this individual will have a positive impact on the lives of students and their learning for many, many years to come.

Often this is the case, but not always. Every district has a few grossly incompetent staff members who despite years of professional development and mentoring are either unable or unwilling to meet the needs of their students. It’s a shame that tenure gives them the right to neglect the minds of hundreds of children over the course of their careers. I continue to be amazed that we are not more outraged by how such teachers’ negligence continues to taint our profession.

In a field that has struggled for more than a century to earn the respect and admiration it deserves, we continue to be our own worst enemies by purporting to believe that good teaching is somehow innate. Mr. Finley argues that “indicators of teacher competence reveal themselves very quickly,” likening teacher quality to either a piano virtuoso or novice. It is unfortunate that we continue to see our profession in this light. Other professions demand rigorous preparation as essential for high performance.

I agree that teaching is a calling, but it is a calling that requires extraordinary preparation. I, too, believe in the importance of tenure, but I also believe that two years is hardly long enough to adequately assess a teacher’s ability to positively impact the lives of students for decades to come.

Brent Harrington

Principal

Haldane Elementary and Middle School

Cold Spring, N.Y.

For more reader opinions about Vergara v. California and the implications for teacher tenure, browse the following letters:
“Bad Leaders Damage More Than a Classroom,” April 15, 2015.
“Teachers Aren’t Alone in Being Vilified,” April 15, 2015.
“School Boards and Tedium Mar Evaluation Process,” April 15, 2015.

A version of this article appeared in the April 15, 2015 edition of Education Week as Teacher-Tenure Essay Draws Passionate Responses


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read
Teaching Profession With Vaccine Mandates on the Rise, Some Teachers May Face Discipline
With a vaccine now fully FDA-approved, more states and districts will likely require school staff get vaccinated. The logistics are tricky.
9 min read
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state in Hayward, Calif., on Feb. 19, 2021. California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. The statewide vaccine mandate for K-12 educators comes as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns of the highly contagious delta variant.
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic in Hayward, Calif. California is among those states requiring all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
Terry Chea/AP
Teaching Profession In Their Own Words Why This Science Teacher Doesn't Want the COVID Vaccine
Contrary to public health guidance, Davis Eidahl, an Iowa high school teacher, has no plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
4 min read
Davis Eidahl, a science teacher at Pekin High School in Packwood, Iowa, says he doesn't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He thinks social distancing and occasional masking will be sufficient to keep himself and others safe.
Davis Eidahl, a science teacher at Pekin High School in Packwood, Iowa, says he doesn't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He thinks social distancing and occasional masking will be sufficient to keep himself and others safe.
Rachel Mummey for Education Week