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A Quarterback Scrambles on Tenure

In our new First Person piece, a Massachusetts physics teacher argues that teacher tenure should be expanded rather than taken away, saying that job security can attract better people to the profession. Meanwhile, over at The Wall Street Journal, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, now a business entrepreneur, makes the counterargument—that tenure hurts the teaching pool. He illustrates his point, not surprisingly, with a football analogy:

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. ... 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. ... Let's face the truth about this alternate reality: The on-field product would steadily decline. Why bother playing harder or better and risk getting hurt?

But, regardless of where you fall on the teacher tenure debate, it's worth noting 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. Are there any teachers who wouldn't take one of those in place of tenure?

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