Teacher Tenure In American Public Schools

3565 words - 14 pages

Bad teachers poison American secondary education. Incompetent teachers frustrate and damage children. The culprit is tenure: allowing teachers to keep their jobs indefinitely, after a trial period. Historically, tenure protected teachers from being fired on whim or without reason in a volatile job climate. While this measure was once productive, tenure policies are now outdated, causing more harm than good. Tenure prevents bad teachers from getting fired, harming students and preventing school systems from maintaining the best teaching force possible.
Tenure promised job security to protect hard-working teachers. Originally implemented at the university level, tenure prevents skilled professors from being fired for simple reasons, working to make schools and education better. “The main purpose of academic tenure is to prevent the possibility of a faculty member being dismissed because what he or she teachers or writes about is considered by either administrators or some people outside the institution to be wrong or offensive” (De George). Tenure was needed in such an academically conservative society. How was a professor supposed to work in a lab and discover universal truths if his research and teaching were censored? If the professor’s job was in danger, he or she would likely work to please the administration rather than blaze new academic trails. The lack of job security instilled fear amongst professors. “One way to eliminate the fear and to reinforce the social and institutional desire for the advancement of knowledge is to guarantee that teachers and researchers do not place their jobs in jeopardy by pursuing and reporting the truth as they discover it.” (De George). Job security put professors at ease and proved the confidence that the university instilled in the tenured professors. By granting tenure, the university places trust in that individual, recognizing that the professor holds immense knowledge and therefore should have discretion of what to teach in their course. “The granting of tenure is seldom, if ever coupled with a list of responsibilities that go with it and few people think of those responsibilities upon receiving tenure. But a little thought will lead one to realize that for a college or university to bestow tenure with no concomitant responsibilities on the part of the recipient would make little sense.” (De George). In this sense, tenure seems like a logical way to ensure that professors will do their best to continue discovering knowledge as well as efficiently relaying that knowledge to their students.
Although tenure had positive effects in higher education, its impact in secondary education was debilitating. Twenty-six out of fifty states are currently Forced-Unionism states and therefore are affected by tenure. (National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation). Secondary education teachers do not preform research that is potentially controversial- so it is not an issue of academic freedom. In today’s...

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