In Virginia, a teacher named Violet Nichols was attacked by the principal at her school for being incompetent. It had been decided the assistant principal would observe classrooms when Nichols’ sister was taken to the hospital and when she asked to leave, no one could cover her class. The assistant principal came hours later to observe her class.
That same day her sister passed away and the teacher left for three days with worksheets for her students to continue learning. When she returned to the school, the teacher was criticized for the lack of beneficial activities for each lesson. Nichols has teacher tenure, which protected her from the remarks made by the assistant principal. Teacher tenure is the due process that gives teachers the right to know about their termination after passing a probationary period. Teacher tenure has existed since 1909, starting in New Jersey (Kahlenberg 6). It does not guarantee a life career, but it provides protection and freedom for teachers. Teacher tenure must be continued in order to protect teachers from false accusations, allow independence in teaching methods, and attract good teachers to lower-income schools.
Teacher tenure is unconstitutional because it keeps ineffective teachers, causing children to not effectively grasp the information necessary from each lesson. California judge, Rolf Treu, states that the state takes a ” two-year process for evaluating new teachers” (Martinez). The probationary process in California is much shorter than evaluations in the other states which makes it easier for unqualified teachers to be employed. The short evaluations show a limited portion of the teachers’ skills. New teachers also do not have the experience comparing to twenty-year veterans; therefore, granting them a tenure within those two years should not be permitted. Once tenure is authorized, it will be difficult to remove the incompetent teachers because discharging a unskillful teacher could potentially take the school “two to almost ten years and cost $50,000 to $450,000 or more” (Martinez). Due to the time and money that would have to be spent, school officials tend to leave teachers alone in the classrooms. The resources to remove the teacher could be placed into a more beneficial program.
Teacher tenure could harm the students’ education as new teachers granted with tenure have a lower chance of being fired, which allows them to continue to teach. Their teaching may not bring out the children’s potential or educate properly. Teacher tenure which cannot be constitutional as it touches the students’ rights of earning an education. Michelle Rhee, who was the Chancellor of the capital’s public schools and the founder of StudentsFirst, a non-profit organization dealing with education reforms, agrees with Judge Treu. She says that the ruling is a large victory across the country.
She believes the abolishment means a “high quality teacher will be in front of every child every single day” (Ford). The elimination of the tenure will remove the unprofessional teachers allowing the students to have a more effective teacher and gain an excellent education. Tenure lowers the chance of unqualified teachers being dismissed and perpetuates the problem of children not getting the proper education.
Although teacher tenure is said to be unconstitutional, it actually protects teachers from a range of prejudicial discharge which do not fall under the laws against racial and sexual discriminations. In the world, discrimination cannot be destroyed, but it can be reduced. False accusation is seen through Violet Nichols, who was a sixth grade teacher at Rose Hill in Virginia.
She was incompetent because she did not incorporate enough technology in her classrooms, handed out too many worksheets, and did not arrange the desks into groups. Nichols was also considered to be rude and unprofessional by a training teacher during a presentation (Brown). Nichols was inaccurately accused of not following the new procedures. There was nothing wrong with Nichols’ method of teaching; she accomplished the tasks that were asked of her. Nichols had laptops in her classroom, the interactive whiteboards was used whenever possible, and had same amount of worksheets as any other teacher. Several parents who volunteered in her class, spoke out for her said that Nichols does “the very things that she was accused of not doing” (Brown). Teacher tenure was able to give Nichols the right to argue that she was being discriminated against.
Tenure gives teachers the voice to be able to fight back as Nichols did. With tenure, it was decided that the efforts of removing her from her career would be dropped; the process protected her from being fired for false allegations. Students and parents make false claims about teachers and the teachers suffer from them.
According to Elizabeth de Leon, who has a Doctorate of Education, one in five teachers experience false accusation from students and one of seven by a parent making the occurrence not uncommon (de Leon 8). Tenure shields teachers from the frequent occurrence of false blame. Kahlenberg, author of All Together Now: Creating Middle Class Schools through Public School Choice and other education related books, says “teachers feel enormous pressure from parents, principals” (Kahlenberg 7). Inaccurate claims which include the reason for poor grades may lead to parent conferences and meetings with the principal. Teacher tenure protects those who are suffering from prejudice basis and gives them the security they need to be able to teach. Furthermore, the false accusation produces more stress which could potentially harm the teacher and the learning of the students.
Tenure shields teachers from being fired for small details and the effects of the false allegations. Additionally, the due process allows the educators to have the freedom in their classrooms to be able to research and publish along with teaching. Tenure gives them academic freedom to be free from institutional restriction, which includes being able to publish their research without penalty. Teachers are researchers; they find more ways to engage their students in their learning and carry out techniques that will work for their students.
They can also research outside the educational field. For instance, Marc Edwards, who is an environmental engineering professor at Virginia Tech with teacher tenure, studied lead poisoning. For a decade, the professor studied how lead poisoning was affecting the citizens of Washington D.
C. In 2015, he found one of the highest levels of lead from a blood sample of a child in Flint, Michigan. (Itkowitz). He did not believe in the claim that the water was safe for six years and during those six years, his career was not touched. Tenure protected him from being silenced and disciplined as his research offended government interest.
Tenure grants the ability to be able to publicly announce new findings without any sort of punishment.Academic freedom also allows teachers to teach how they want. Chandra Shaw educates her students differently from other teachers at her school. She uses her Master’s degree in Educational leadership and Administration and an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Elementary Education and Teaching to her teaching methods. As a new teacher, she was “trying to survive” (Shaw). Veteran teachers would provide her with materials and advice; however, it made her uncomfortable. Therefore she researched her own teaching style.
After the No Child Left Behind Act, teachers were “told what to teach, when to teach, and how to teach” (Shaw). The new law did not give teachers the freedom to teach. A national survey showed that sixty percent of the schools that responded said they would allow the reduction of the amount of time for arts, music, and physical education. Social studies and writing were not required to be taught until a certain age. The main goal was to have the children excel in reading and math to match their counterparts across the country. Despite this, Shaw continues to teach her way; educating her student with social studies, writing, and allows coloring and drawing in her classroom (Shaw). Teacher tenure protects teachers like Shaw who want to encourage learning through their own methods.
Shaw does not teach the way the principal wants; she teaches to educate, not just to receive a passing score. Shaw can teach students in a more effective way and not worry about her career ending. Tenure stops terminations that are caused from the conflicts when a teacher goes against what is asked. Moreover, tenure reels in the skilled teachers to become teachers at low-income schools. It connects competent teachers with children in lower classes who have less of chance in getting a proper education.
Pedro Noguera, a professor of education at NYU and an executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, states that the due process gives “security to call attention to the deplorable conditions” (Noguera). Schools in low income neighborhoods lack the basic supplies that are necessary for education. Tenure allows teachers to be able to state their issues with the school without fear.
High-poverty schools are less likely to have the ability to pay for school nurses, counselors, or even areas that are safe for children to play (Noguera). Teacher tenure makes low-income schools look more attractive by giving teachers freedom and a smaller chance of being fired for trying to change the school. This allows those children in poverty to have a better education that matches their affluent counterparts. Teachers can raise the standards for the poor schools and earn money from better test scores.
According to Diane Ravitch, who is currently a historian of education, was the Assistant Secretary of Education, and was responsible for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement in the Department of Education for the US, the declination low income schools are receiving is because of the “lack of resources, large classes, and the challenge of teaching the neediest children while being held accountable for their test scores.” The removal of teacher tenure will not benefit the high poverty schools because tenure attracts teachers. In schools, teachers have to find ways so that the children can understand which is protected by tenure.
As tenure attracts more skilled teachers, the schools can divide up the large classrooms and after finding the most effective methods, students will learn and earn better scores. The improvement will demonstrate that the government can send money to the schools in order to support the students.Teacher tenure provides the education that every child should receive by supporting the teachers. The teachers can incorporate activities that do not follow the curriculum, allowing students to use different parts of their brain. Tenure does not allow the personal lives of teachers to conflict with their career.
Changes that need to be made include lowering the cost of firing teachers and increasing the number of years it takes to grant teacher tenure. The potential impact of the future research will lead to the improvement of school education.