To the Editor:
I envy the world David Finley describes in his Commentary (“Teacher Tenure: An Innocent Victim of Vergara v. California,” March 4, 2015), a world in which “there seems to be a conspiracy among politicians and the media whereby teachers are thrown under the bus, while administrators are given a free ride.”
I have been a public high school principal in Maine for more than a decade, and administrators here are vilified at least as much as teachers. Four years ago, our legislature passed a law limiting retired school employees to 75 percent pay if rehired. Two years later, the restriction was lifted for teachers. It remains in effect for administrators.
In 2012, Maine Gov. Paul LePage personally sent me, and every high school principal in the state, a cartoon with a hand-written note insinuating that we neither value technical education nor put “students first.” Gov. LePage continued his war of words in his recent second inaugural address, when he asserted that Maine has too many public school administrators and that they are overpaid.
In his Commentary, Mr. Finley says that approximately two of California’s 275,000 teachers are dismissed annually for poor performance. Five Maine principals (of approximately 1,000) were dismissed for poor performance in 2010, when the U.S. Department of Education’s Title I School Improvement Grant initiative identified 10 Maine schools as persistently low-performing and offered them millions of federal dollars to write school improvement plans and replace the principals. Comparing those data sets reveals the ratio of dismissed Maine principals is almost seven hundred times greater than the ratio of dismissed California teachers.
It would be naive to suggest that teachers are not routinely vilified by politicians and the media. It is equally naive to suggest that administrators are somehow given a free ride and not similarly stigmatized.
Donald J. Reiter
Waterville Senior High School
For more reader opinions about Vergara v. California and the implications for teacher tenure, browse the following letters:
• “Teacher-Tenure Essay Draws Passionate Response,” April 15, 2015.
• “Bad Leaders Damage More Than a Classroom,” 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