Educational Editorial: Tenure under attack

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – NPR recently ran a story entitled, "Tenure Under Attack." The focus was on the rising concern about the inability to get rid of teachers who are not performing well in the classroom.

New York, Chicago and Los Angeles all reported firing less than one percent a year. Unions blame administrators for not doing their jobs and administrators blame teacher unions for lobbying for policies and laws that make it virtually impossible to fire someone from the classroom.

Perhaps they are both right. The greatest impediment to the morale of a strong teacher is to think that incompetence will be protected or ignored. The teacher in the room next to me is getting the same salary, status, and security while performing poorly …so what makes me work harder?

Teachers are correct that policies must be in place to protect against arbitrary or discriminatory dismissals. In reality, many of the people that I have terminated have taken a shot in the federal courts to prove discrimination, and rarely were they not given an opportunity to make their case.

There are protections in place for teachers! And for administrators, if we want to get incompetence out of the classroom, we have to take the shots that come with it.

Redress always focuses on attacking the evaluator, not the evaluation. With increased accountability for students and schools, it seems the right time to ask if teachers should have substantive or procedural immunity.

There are many unemployed today who would like to have had a property right in a job. As for administrators, drop the hammer, take your licks and sleep better at night knowing that you protected the right person…the student.

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