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Former NFL QB Fran Tarkenton on Teacher Tenure

What would the NFL look like if it ran on a teacher-tenure system?

"The on-field product would steadily decline," former NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton wrote in an opinion piece published earlier this week in The Wall Street Journal.

Tarkenton led his op-ed with this scenario:

Imagine the National Football League in an alternate reality. Each player's salary is based on how long he's been in the league. It's about tenure, not talent. The same scale is used for every player, no matter whether he's an All-Pro quarterback or the last man on the roster. For every year a player's been in this NFL, he gets a bump in pay. The only difference between Tom Brady and the worst player in the league is a few years of step increases. And if a player makes it through his third season, he can never be cut from the roster until he chooses to retire, except in the most extreme cases of misconduct.

Tarkenton uses this example to slam the concept of teacher tenure in his editorial, saying that tenured employees have no incentive to perform better.

"If anything," Tarkenton says, teacher tenure "penalizes those who work hard because they spend time, energy, and their own money to help students, only to get the same check each month as the worst teacher in the district (or an even smaller one, if that teacher has been there longer.")

Our friends on the Teaching Now blog posted about Tarkenton's op-ed yesterday, and pointed out that "NFL players do tend to have multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts, which give them a level of financial security known to very few working Americans."

In fact, in the new 10-year NFL collective bargaining agreement, players for the first time in league history have injury guarantees written into their contracts. If a player suffers a career-ending injury, that player will receive up to $1 million for the contract year after their injury, and up to $500,000 the year after that.

Reader Gene AR's comment on the Teaching Now post likely sums up teachers' thoughts about Tarkenton's anti-tenure argument: "When are we going to get those multi-million dollar contracts?"

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