To Be or Not To Be: Will Teacher Tenure Exist in Your Future?
I am fairly certain that most prospective teachers and even many first-year educators do not spend much time pondering the topic of tenure. Indeed, aside from possible mention in the introductory courses in education I would daresay tenure is considered germane to the actual training of teachers. I don’t think much about the topic, either, until I come across articles about its eminent demise. These articles appear to be occurring more and more frequently which is why all prospective and current teachers should increase their awareness and knowledge of tenure policies and laws. Whether or not you agree with the principles of tenure, you need to understand the history, as well as the current arguments, in order to know your present situation and speak intelligently on the topic.
I encourage you to start your research with the current laws in the state in which you are searching for jobs or presently teach. That state department of education’s website and the school district’s human resources or professional development website should contain this information. If you have questions about these laws you owe it to yourself to ask for clarification. Think of this information as you would your car or home insurance policies. We tend not to read those in detail until something bad happens. That may not be catastrophic with your car, or even your home but with your job, it is definitely better to know your rights before dire situations arise.
You must next proceed to the political arena and attempt to gauge the prevailing attitudes of elected officials, from your local school board members to state legislators and the governor, to our newly elected and appointed officials in Washington. For example, there have been very recent legislative actions in Florida, New York and Ohio that were designed to alter the tenure laws in those states. It is incumbent upon you as an educator, especially those of you teaching in those states, to know more about those efforts. I highly recommend that you regularly monitor EducationWeek and other reliable sources for developing trends on this topic.
Obviously, it is in your best interest to know more about your own current and projected tenure status. Beyond that, however, it would be advantageous to the entire teaching profession for you to at least be prepared enough to intelligently respond to the question, “Will Teacher Tenure Exist in the Future?” If you are not, it is much easier for others to make it go away.