Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tenure and The Bogeyman

In a response, of sorts, to Joanne Jacobs's note that tenure protects the bogeymen - the "bad" teachers - whether they be senile, incompetent, mean, racist, overly religious, megalomaniac, stupid or just plain lazy. Well, no, tenure doesn't protect really bad teachers. These administrators can't evaluate their people properly before they're hired nor evaluate them while they're on the job. Why should we expect them to be able to follow the steps outlined in the contract to get rid of someone?

More importantly, tenure doesn't just protect bad teachers. It also protects the good teachers
  • who dare to disagree with the "Administrator of the Year." (by which I do NOT refer to any award, but only length of service), who find said admin's pet theories to be absurd, who resist the ridiculous reforms that said admin is championing and who happen to know the correct way to teach. Regardless of merit, the "nail that sticks up is hammered down." Students and education are not part of the consideration.
  • who happen to be staunchly Republican in a faculty that is not. As the wit has it, "the reason educational politics is so petty is because the stakes are so small." I am dismayed to admit it, but more often it is the liberal side of the hallway that collects like piranha, trying to get the unwanted declared incompetent. (This is probably because more faculty are liberal than not) Allow the students to badger any opinion out of you and someone will find offense.
  • who happen to be devoutly religious (any flavor) and hold those feelings and opinions dear. Again, faculty have what seems a unique tendency to discover and grossly (if not grotesquely) magnify small "slights," opinions, habits or improprieties that offend the collective. If I were being cynical, I would assume that many teachers are vampires or the undead when I consider how much they hate the sight of a cross.
  • who happen to be pro-military. Some leeway is given to mothers of soldiers but rarely to veterans themselves or members of a military family. Salute the wrong President, face the music. Likewise recruiters. I even witnessed an alum being denied entrance to the building to visit a teacher - because "he was in uniform and that promoted guns and violence." Gob-smacked, I was.

Let's think long and hard about tenure before we all dismiss it.

1 comment:

  1. I agree most of these "bad teachers" are around because the administrators failed to do their jobs and observe and get rid of them.

    Is it hard to fire a tenured teacher? Yeah, but not impossible. Besides you can tell within 2/3 years how a teacher is going to be