Debunking Tenure Myths

  • Tenure protects an individual’s right to due process. It’s a matter of fairness and being “innocent until proven guilty.” The proposed tenure legislation promotes just the opposite: “guilty until proven innocent.”
  • Tenure protects good teachers from the politics of the job. With the proposed tenure legislation, it’s possible that a teacher who is gay, or a teacher who is unmarried and pregnant, or a teacher who is unpopular with the administration or a parent, or an experienced teacher who costs too much can be fired.
  • With the proposed tenure legislation, facts don’t matter. Regardless of whether a teacher has had satisfactory evaluations in the past or is assigned a class of low-achieving students, it is the subjective whim of the administration as to whether a teacher is fired. This is what “arbitrary and capricious” means under the proposed legislation.
  • Seniority is not the only criteria used in the retention of teachers. A teacher must also be highly qualified and certified in a subject area. There are many cases where a more senior teacher has been laid off because they were not certified or qualified to teach that subject.
  • No discussion of tenure is complete without a discussion of the evaluation system being used to determine the effectiveness of a teacher. The evaluation process and standards must be fair and impartial, created in collaboration with teachers and administrators. The evaluation system must be based on multiple measures.
  • Administrators responsible for evaluations must also be held accountable. That means training in evaluation procedures and academic leadership skills to ensure that evaluations are done fairly and effectively. There should be consequences if evaluations are not completed. 
  • With the budget cuts to education and the proposed tenure legislation, experience is rated as a negative—both in terms of performance and economics. It presumes that those teachers with the least amount of experience are inherently better and cheaper than those who have 10 or more years of experience.
  • The proposed legislation does nothing to streamline the tenure process. As a matter of fact, the legislation proposes keeping on an ineffective teacher for another year by placing them on probation again. How does that help children?
  •  Even though there are laws against job discrimination in the hiring and firing of teachers, fair dismissal procedures are a much more cost-effective way to deal with tenure and discharging ineffective teachers than lengthy and expensive court battles.
  • Taking aim at tenure and seniority does not improve the quality of education. The two separate issues have become scapegoats for what’s wrong with education. There’s no evidence that dismantling tenure will reduce class sizes, provide additional resources or restore programs.