Two Lawsuits Filed Attacking Tenure Laws Following CA Ruling
By: Joseph Christensen
Emboldened by a recent verdict in California that struck down tenure laws, two groups have filed similar suits in New York City. While the suits will likely have little direct impact on our unit members, the fact that such a pervasive trend against tenure sits in our backyard should be cause for concern. Even more troubling perhaps is the basis for the public spin continually equating teacher tenure as a life-long appointment.
Teachers have an incredibly important role in shaping the future of our society. To be effective at fostering growth and success, teachers need some stability, which tenure provides. It is not a life-long appointment, but rather due process for the possibility that an issue arises in the future. As a society, we would like to believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty with verified evidence, but removing tenure would put the jobs of many educators at the whim of the employer. Even the President of the United States is guaranteed certain job protections, with respect to due process if the President is impeached. How can we expect top results from teachers if they must cater to the personal whims of employers rather than the needs of students?
The role all teachers fulfill is a vital one for our society, and sometimes they must lead through difficult situations. Without a provided guarantee for a fair grievance process, our educational system could devolve so that the many talented, dedicated teachers would be punished for the faults of the few negative performers. We can always seek methods to improve the process, but tenure must remain to serve those who dedicate their work to teaching.
As for the issues and problems in education overall, there are likely many areas of the system that need attention. Meaningful changes require engagement from all people involved, from teachers and administrations, to students and families. We need to find ways to improve the process to address concerns at every level and make sure everyone gets involved. The major threats to effective education are indifference and resistance to appropriate change. If we want our students to succeed, we must make productive changes as allies, not as adversaries.