Education Editorial: Teacher tenure

A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge has declared that the California teacher tenure laws are unconstitutional. Citing the 60 year old Brown decision, the judge noted that the tenure laws "impose a real and appreciable impact on the students' fundamental right to equality of education".

While much courtroom time is likely to be spent on whether or not education is truly a "fundamental right", the national debate will likely focus on whether or not tenure…called continuing contract in Virginia…is a reasonable concept.

While many advocates argue that tenure protects the right of a teacher to "speak his or her mind without fear of retribution", I have found just the opposite. If a teacher wants to blast the school division or anyone in it, immunity is instantly created by speaking in a public forum… any employment action, warranted or not, is deemed retaliation. There are an abundance of laws that protect against discriminatory or unwarranted dismissal.

The bottom line is that no one should have a property right in a job…if there is a right guaranteed, it should be to a quality education. Tenure has never been necessary to protect strong performance... but it can be a safety net for incompetence.

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