Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Talk Of Taming Tenure Track

Improve Education by Delaying Tenure

More Rand-om thoughts from Guest Blogger George Rand. Agree or disagree, George certainly gives us all something to think about on a "hot-button" issue that impacts upon the education of our children.

Critics of granting lifetime tenure to public school teachers have said that tenure effectively eliminates the ability to ensure teaching excellence. Thanks to tenure, there is no cost-effective way to discipline, control or remove a negligent teacher. Because removal can be so costly and time consuming, many districts take action only when teachers sexually abuse their students. Only federal judges have the lifetime job protection that tenure gives teachers.

About ten years ago, Debra Mazzarelli, a bright, young member of the New York State Assembly introduced a bill that would have replaced the three-year probationary tenure period with a mandatory five-year renewable tenure contract. Mazzarelli called this an effective step toward improving the quality of our public education system. The union which has always opposed periodic testing of teachers for competency, easily squelched the idea of renewable tenure.

The idea of modifying the tenure system has surfaced again now as the topic of a Newsday column by Marc Bernstein, superintendent of the Valley Stream Central High School System. Dr. Bernstein suggested that schools should have "significantly more than the current three years to evaluate the effectiveness of their new teachers before granting them lifetime tenure." Of course, Dr. Bernstein's proposal was attacked in short order by a teachers union official who linked tenure with "due process."

Whenever you see a reference to "due process" in a letter to the editor, you could be sure it's from a member of the teachers union.

Dr. Bernstein wrote in his column that he wants to link teachers' effectiveness to how well students preform. Great idea! In the business sector pay is usually based on performance. Not in our public schools: the best teachers and the least capable ones, if they are on the same line on the union's salary schedule, have identical paychecks.

No business could operate that way.

Because the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires yearly testing in grades three through eight, we now have objective date - test scores - which can be used to evaluate teachers. Many parents will agree with Dr. Bernstein's statement that we should use students' test results in deciding tenure and determining who will be teaching our children for the next 30 years.

--George Rand
The writer is a resident of Franklin Square.
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SEE also, Unions Defend Bad Teachers'Tenure - At Students' Expense.
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1 comment:

  1. basing evaluation of a teacher on the NCLB mandated tests is ridiculous. These tests serve no purpose other than to test short-term memory skills.