Push for changing tenure law ignores the reasons its needed.
There are good reasons for maintaining it
Once again the Star Tribune Editorial Board has come out for changing the tenure law (March 14) so that as we lay off teachers we keep the “effective” ones.
To start with, I have a great idea. Let’s fund education in 2014-15 at the same level adjusted for inflation as 2004-05. One recent report from the Minnesota School Boards Association found that this alone would increase education funding per student by almost $700. That alone would prevent us from making any cuts in the first place.
Second, what does “effective” mean? Since even under the new teacher evaluation law teachers are observed only once a year, it always means test scores. So how do we compare a teacher who only teaches gifted and talented students with one who works with those who are struggling? What about the 60 percent of teachers who teach in an area where no standardized test exists?
The reason we have tenure is simple. Districts would have an economic incentive to lay off more-expensive teachers first. Let’s start by calculating what it truly costs to educate a child, and then fund it.
Marc Doepner-Hove, Mound
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The editorial ignored the rigorous evaluations in place before achieving tenure. It also ignored existing processes to remove teachers. These powers simply require due process.
Worse, the editorial ignored the most obvious threat to professionals — replacement by cheap, new graduates or volunteers in the name of austerity.
Reasonable protections for teachers exist to protect tireless, devoted professionals from retribution for:
• Supporting academic integrity.
• Assigning real literature like Steinbeck or Twain.
• Speaking out to protect students.
• Insisting on academic freedom.
• Writing letters to the editor.
Ultimately, the corporate movement to eliminate tenure has yet to prove tenure has an impact on performance. Schools with teacher tenure rank among both the best and the worst in America. Instead of attacking professionals in the height of their career, let’s support them and educate our children.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.