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Tenure, Salary Premiums End for North Carolina Teachers

UPDATED

North Carolina's teaching force will no longer be eligible for tenure or to receive the pay bump that accompanies earning a master's degree, reports The Wall Street Journal's Stephanie Banchero.

When last I wrote about tenure, in 2010, a few states were beginning to tie tenure to performance evaluations, but there was less of an appetite to end it outright. That has since changed. Florida eliminated "continuing contracts" for teachers in 2011, and Idaho made tenure-granting a district option also that year, a move that was later overturned by voters in a referendum.

In North Carolina, top-performing teachers will still be able to receive four-year contracts, but otherwise continued employment will be for on one- or two-year contracts.

UPDATED, 7/30 4:59 p.m.
I should have specified here that, under the terms of the budget bill, teachers still can't be dismissed during the middle of a contract year unless it's for "cause," established during a hearing. Tenure is a slippery word in K-12 education that refers both to continuing employment and to the granting of due-process protections.

In what may be a first, North Carolina is also doing away with the salary premiums for teachers who hold master's degrees, the newspaper reports.

Paying teachers for holding master's degress is estimated to cost more than $14 billion nationally, but aside from degrees in advanced content for math and science teachers, there's not much evidence that holding them makes for better teaching.

And the action comes on top of a bunch of other legislative policymaking in the state. Among other things teacher-related, lawmakers in recent years have frozen teacher salaries and dismantled a celebrated teaching fellowship program that helped to interest promising high school students in a teaching career.

Meanwhile, Ann Doss Helms at the Charlotte Observer does a nice job putting the state's salary data into context for you. Any way you slice it, North Carolina teachers are at the bottom end of the 50 states in terms of teacher pay, she concludes.

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