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20 October 2004: Review of Tenure (1 of 4)

From AP, 4 July 2003: To teachers, tenure is a coveted and often misunderstood right — not a lock on a lifetime job, but assurance of fair treatment, including intervention for teachers who may be struggling to reach students.

Since the beginning of my career, it has been astounding to me that according to the laws of my state and my teaching contract, a high-school dropout earning the minimum wage has more job security than a credentialed public school teacher without tenure. In the article quoted above, Ben Feller discusses the pros and cons of tenure in public school teaching appointments. As I was reading it, the shocking truth jumped out at me; the article states that only once teachers have tenure do they have a right to “assurance of fair treatment.” Even a McDonald’s employee is entitled to a process of warnings, opportunities to improve, and justification for termination. But if you happen to be a public school teacher, don’t expect such coddling. I can speak to this from personal experience. Late in my first year of teaching I was given a non-re-elect letter by my district. I was told by my principal (who, incidentally, had never seen me teach) that she had nothing to do with it. I was told by the district that it originated with my principal. I was told by my union that it didn’t matter either way, since without tenure they did not need any justification to fire me. The contract says tenure comes at the beginning of year three, and before that it is not necessary to give any reason for dismissal.

teaching quote of the day

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.

- Chinese proverb

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