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A Fair Trade?


Would you voluntarily give up your teaching seniority and tenure rights for some extra green? D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee hopes teachers in the nation’s capitol will. She has proposed a contract that would arrange such a swap, giving mid-level teachers who earn $62,000 annually the opportunity to earn over $100,000, two anonymous union members told The Washington Post. Such a pay raise would make D.C. teachers among the highest-paid in the nation.

The proposal would establish a color-coded two-tiered pay system in which teachers in the red tier would receive traditional raises and remain eligible for tenure, while teachers who voluntarily enter the green tier would lose tenure rights in favor of potentially hefty raises and bonuses possibly funded by foundations, including Broad, Dell, and Gates. “Green” teachers would be evaluated yearly and would only be allowed to continue teaching if they passed their review and raised student test scores.

Rhee hopes the plan will be seen as a way to ensure District teachers are “the most highly compensated and competent” in the country. Union members, however, expressed doubts that teachers would agree to such a trade. “You may be trading off your future, your tenure, your job security,” a union member said. “When you trade that, it seems to me you’re not getting much.”


The problem I see for this situation and any system that offers bonus pay is that a certain group of students and their teachers are going to be left out of the equation - these are the special education students and the individuals who have dedicated their careers to working with them. It is not always possible to "raise" their test scores or have them perform better in anyway - do they not deserve "excellent" teachers just the same?

Beware! This opens the door for the arbitrary decisions of administrators (those who know very little about what is real in a classroom) to "clean house" and ingratiate themselves with school boards by saving money, e.g. $100,000. There is already a system in place to rid a system of incompetent, tenured teachers. Use it!

After working in a school system where the group of 6 tenured teachers happened to be the least invested and extremely ineffective, while some of the newer (untenured) teachers happened to be the most committed to moving every child's academic performance, I fully support the removal of tenure insulation!! It was heartbreaking to see the new classrooms full of children that had to be placed with our least effective, tenured teachers every September! Anyone who has worked as an administrator in a district with an powerful union contract for teachers has experienced how few options there are for removing a harmful teacher, once tenured. In this school, their files will filled with documentation for extensive absences, failure to perform professionally, and investigations of inappropriate behavior. Tenure was introduced to protect teachers from the deep social vacilation and upheavals in the 60s to proect college professors from being dismissed because of their political views. While politicalization is still an issue in some communities, this is no longer the primary threat to retaining talented faculty. The time of tenure has passed- the stakes for our young people are too high to be our second consideration. Tenure must be phased out. Furthermoer, for teaching to become competitive as a professional field, we now need to look to more innovative ways to value those teachers who are contributing to the futures of our students. Even though it is an imperfect system, merit bonus plans will adapt over time as tools to value all teachers' success, even for special ed professionals.

Jaime Zara believes it is time to get rid of tenure.
I wonder if Jaime has ever taught at a school dominated by a bullying, incompetent, favorite playing, ego-maniacal principal. Without tenure rights, this "administrator" would be free to fire teachers on a whim, simply because they do not "play ball" and rubber stamp all decisions made by the principal.
Indeed, I have worked for such an administrator. This principal fired an excellent, second year, non-tenured science teacher that the staff had voted to be the teacher of the year, because he was not a "yes" man and was not liked by the principal.
This fired teacher went on to garner numerous state and federal accolades for his teaching prowess and success.
Yes, it is true that tenure does protect some poor teachers, but it also protects the vast majority of honest, hard-working, and caring teachers from the likes of incompetent and vindictive administrators.

It sounds like Lawrence Asrilant needs the protection that tenure gives, but I agree with Jaime that tenure does more harm than good. The arguement about the science teacher shows that the release was probably the best thing in the world for him because he was finally in a school that could praise him for excellence in his field instead of it being a battle every day to provide that excellence. I have been the target of a unskilled principal who felt threatened by me becuase I challenged her practices (that were against state and federal law) and the best thing in the world was the fact that I did not have tenure and was released. Had I been protected under tenure, I would have continued to beat my head against that brick wall for my students, eventually probably ending my teaching career early because of the stress. I have taught for 10 years now and will always be thankful that I was released from that situation, so I could find a school that would embrace the education of all students.
In my ten years, I have seen many many teachers protected by tenure because principals were not willing to go the extra mile to collect the data to dismiss them. Those same principals did not want the lawsuits that would come after the termination letters. I agree that there are too many teachers that get "comfortable" with tenure and little by little, fail to provide the level of education needed for students to be ready to be competitive in the job market.
Great teachers allow students to unlock their potential. One sub-par teacher will make a negative difference in that child's education for years.

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Recent Comments

  • Michele: It sounds like Lawrence Asrilant needs the protection that tenure read more
  • Lawrence Asrilant: Jaime Zara believes it is time to get rid of read more
  • Jaime Zara: After working in a school system where the group of read more
  • John Manear: Beware! This opens the door for the arbitrary decisions of read more
  • Laura J. Erxleben: The problem I see for this situation and any system read more




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